As the U.S. and Iran teetered on the brink of war, media outlets turned to Rice faculty and fellows for expertise on the unfolding crisis. In particular, Jim Krane of the Baker Institute was a go-to source for journalists covering the reaction of the oil markets. A single Associated Press article quoting Krane was cited by more than 1,000 media outlets, including CBS News, ABC News and the Boston Herald.
Before, during and after the Senate impeachment trial of President Trump, reporters and broadcast producers seeking perspective and commentary routinely turned to presidential historian Doug Brinkley. As a result, Rice was mentioned in more than 1,000 media outlets as diverse as the Wall Street Journal, the Associated Press, NPR, the Daily Mail and Japan Times.
A research paper on grieving spouses produced by Psychology Professor Christopher Fagundes received worldwide attention. Fagundes conducted interviews and blood tests on people who’d recently lost their husbands or wives and concluded that trying to maintain your composure while grieving for a lost loved one is unhealthy. He was interviewed by the Huffington Post and on the BBC World Service in a segment that aired on more than 1,400 radio stations around the world.
For a full list of January and February media stars,
please see the last section of this report.
New year, same high level of advocacy from Government Relations
In the new year, Government Relations launched an active advocacy push for Rice’s state and federal priorities. We participated in the Association of American Universities’ annual strategic planning conference on federal relations, worked with the Office of Research preparing for upcoming appropriations requests and hosted U.S. Rep. Michael McCaul’s new district director for a tour of campus and a briefing on Rice’s federal agenda. We also worked with our Public Affairs colleagues in University Relations and News and Media Relations to support the Rice Management Co. innovation district project in Midtown.
February found Government Relations working with the Baker Institute’s Center for Energy Studies on a plan to approach the state government about a carbon policy working group. Rice’s U.S. congressman, Dan Crenshaw, also came to campus twice in February — first for an interview with the “Amanpour and Company” show on PBS, and second when Rice was the venue for his second annual Health Care Innovation Summit — with Government Relations supporting both visits. Finally, our department also made a trip to Washington in late February to conduct 14 meetings over a two-day period covering a variety of topics including our appropriations priorities, the Texas Flood Registry and foreign influence in academia.
A safer, greener and more profitable Rice Village
After more than a year of negotiations between the Rice Management Co. (RMC), the city of Houston, property owners and the Rice Village Alliance (the merchant association for the Rice Village), University Relations has helped to broker an agreement that will make a long-neglected section of University Boulevard safer, greener and more profitable for merchants and property owners.
For nearly two years, Houston Public Works has been planning the reconstruction of University Boulevard between Kirby Drive and Main Street, and a key question has been the fate of head-in parking spaces between Morningside Drive and Kirby. The existing parking spaces are partly in the city right of way and partly on private property, presenting a dilemma: Either the city would have to rebuild the street with parking contained entirely in the city right of way (necessitating a change to parallel parking at a loss of more than two-thirds of the existing spaces) or 100% of the property owners would need to agree on an alternate plan and grant the city an easement to build on their private property.
Although property owners were receptive to the idea of preserving more parking, RMC felt that improvements could and should be made to the existing streetscape.
RMC worked with Lake Flato Architects on a plan that University Relations helped pitch to landowners, the Rice Village Alliance and the city of Houston. The plan employs angled parking, making it safer for cars to enter and exit while preserving more spaces than the city’s default parallel parking plan. It also creates space for safer crosswalks, required handicapped parking spaces, the addition of street trees and an enhanced pedestrian realm with a 3-foot green zone planting area to separate parking and pedestrians. As RMC has already proved with its successful Morningside Square project on another Rice Village street, such enhanced pedestrian amenities create a more welcoming experience for shoppers and diners which leads to increased foot traffic and sales for area merchants.
With the new design concept approved by all parties, the city can proceed with the final engineering design. The street renovation could be completed as early as 2023.
Creative Services designs “event marks” for various campaigns that recognize unique events on campus. These visual marks are designed to work in conjunction with the official university brand standards. In these cases, the Rice Media Center was celebrating 50 years of lens-based media programs, and Administrative Systems was looking to introduce an internal campus audience to a new operations system.
Scientia Lecture Series promotional material
To promote the Scientia Lecture Series’ spring events, Creative Services designed and edited three banners to display over Fondren Library in addition to flyers and program cards. The goal behind this year’s theme — Panoply: A Wide Ranging and Impressive Display — is to introduce the audience to an array of research and creative works. Scientia is a faculty-led institute that promotes interdisciplinary engagement.
Ken Kennedy Institute lecture poster
Creative Services designed and edited a poster for the Ken Kennedy Institute to help promote a lecture titled “Probabilistic and Machine Learning Approaches for Autonomous Robots and Automated Driving.” Throughout the academic year, the Ken Kennedy Institute hosts a lecture series that brings information technology leaders from both academia and industry to Rice.
Multicultural Community Relations
The path to education
Representatives from Rice’s Houston Education Research Consortium, the Rice Risk Management Department and Prevention Institute gave informative presentations at the K-12 Outreach Council meeting Feb. 6. Multicultural Community Relations (MCR) organizes the quarterly meeting with members of the Rice community who engage in K-12 outreach. The purpose of the meeting is to identify opportunities for greater collaboration among outreach groups at Rice. Separately, MCR co-hosted KIPP Texas’ Dream Big symposium, a college admission information program for 120 high school juniors and seniors. As part of the Feb. 13 event, Rice undergraduates shared their stories about the path they took to get to college.
Rice contributes to middle school career day
Feb. 14, MCR co-hosted the first event with its new community partner, Baylor College of Medicine Biotech Academy, at Rusk, a Houston Independent School District middle school. During the half-day event, close to 420 students were regaled by inspirational and informative presentations about college and careers. MCR recruited many of the presenters, who included a Rice engineering professor, a commercial airline pilot, an MBA student, the assistant director of project management and engineering at Rice and members of the Rice undergraduate chapter of the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers.
Rice celebrates Black History Month at Ensemble Theatre
MCR partnered with the Ensemble Theatre Feb. 6 to provide a networking opportunity for Rice’s black undergraduate and graduate students to meet members of the Association of Rice University Black Alumni. The group attended Ensemble Theatre’s production of “The Green Book,” a play inspired by events that occurred during racial segregation in the U.S.
Marketing and Digital Communications
In January and February, Rice social media channels received more than 2.9 million impressions and more than 100,000 engagements. Videos were viewed on social media 68,547 times.
Impressions: The number of times the content was seen. Engagements: The number of interactions (likes, shares, comments, clicks, etc.) on a post. Followers: The number of people who follow the main Rice accounts. Video views: The number of video views from Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn. This does not include YouTube video views.
Twitter’s top post included two photos of Rice alumni who recently got engaged. Calvin Anderson ’18 plays for the Denver Broncos and Monika Patterson ’16 is a local physician. The post received 65,599 impressions and 7,886 engagements.
Facebook’s top post was repurposed content from the new Students of Rice Instagram account. The post received 15,679 impressions and had an engagement rate of 11.6%.
LinkedIn’s top post announced a new pilot program, Coursera for Rice. The program opens all online courses to Rice students, faculty and staff for free. The post received more than 30,000 impressions and had an engagement rate of 6%.
Instagram’s top post was a beautiful sunrise shot of Lovett Hall taken by videographer Brandon Martin. The post received 16,843 impressions and had an engagement rate of 14%.
As of Feb. 29, Public Affairs and the Office of Information Technology have successfully launched 48 Drupal 8 websites. Most notable are the Boniuk Institute, Center for Civic Leadership, ImagineOne, Neuroengineering, Office of Multicultural Affairs, Office of the President, Office of the Provost and V2C2.
The two departments are collaborating on 62 additional websites as part of the migration from Drupal 7 to Drupal 8. Some of the websites currently under development are:
Center for the Career Development
Children’s Environmental Health Initiative
Dean of Undergraduates
George R. Brown School of Engineering
Glasscock School of Continuing Studies
Houston Education Research Consortium
Office of Academic Advising
Profiles (faculty, staff and students)
Rice At Large
Rice News and Media Relations
School of Humanities
School of Social Sciences
Kristian Coates Ulrichsen, fellow for the Middle East at Rice’s Baker Institute for Public Policy, had the highest number of media mentions — 1,611 — during January and February, mainly for comments about the coronavirus impact on Middle East holy sites. Below are members of the Rice community who were mentioned in the media 10 or more times in January and February.
Kristian Coates Ulrichsen
Elaine Howard Ecklund
Trey Murphy III
Katharine Neill Harris
Jon Kimura Parker
Sibani Lisa Biswal
Ilenne Del Valle
Quan Anh Nguyen
Botao Farren Song
The chart below shows Rice’s media mentions since 2007. The green column reflects the number of Rice media mentions for Jan. 1–Feb. 29, 2020.
Rice’s News and Media Relations team continues to set records by closing out 2019 with 155,577 media mentions. Our top media performers are shown below.