David Brancaccio, the host of American Public Media’s nationally distributed “Marketplace Morning Report,” stopped by Rice Oct. 26 for a special conversation with President Reginald DesRoches about the benefits of attending college and the university’s focus on access and affordability as well as advancing diversity, equity and inclusion. The show’s countrywide distribution led to more than 1,460 mentions for the university.
The campus community lit up with excitement Oct. 12 when Rice English professor and acclaimed author Kiese Laymon was awarded a MacArthur Fellowship, the prestigious honor popularly known as the “genius grant.” A Black Southern writer from Jackson, Mississippi, Laymon’s work bears witness to the forms of violence that mark the Black experience. Laymon is the university’s second-ever recipient, after bioengineer Rebecca Richards-Kortum in 2016. The news led to more than 970 media mentions for Rice in media outlets including the Washington Post, NPR and Forbes.
As the Russia-Ukraine war has passed the eight-month mark, media interest in talking with Rice experts about the energy implications in particular have heightened. Baker Institute nonresident fellow Anna Mikulska racked up more than 1,250 media mentions while helping media including NPR’s “Marketplace,” Newsweek and Deutsche Welle make sense of the impact on natural gas prices in Europe and the implications for the natural gas industry in the U.S.
For a full list of September and October media stars,
please see the last section of this report.
A giant leap for Government Relations
A great deal of Government Relations’ September schedule was spent preparing Rice to host the major celebration of the 60th anniversary of President Kennedy’s iconic Sept. 12, 1962, speech at Rice Stadium. With NASA’s Johnson Space Center (JSC) and the Houston Independent School District as partners, the three-day event commemorated Kennedy’s historic address while looking ahead to NASA’s Artemis missions, which will return Americans to the moon and then, eventually, lay the foundation to travel to Mars. The celebration — originally conceived by Government Relations nearly 10 months prior — included a selfie taken from space (a “Spelfie”), a large NASA exhibit pavilion, and dozens of industry and university research exhibits. The main event of the weekend occurred on the anniversary date, when NASA Administrator Bill Nelson, Rice President DesRoches, Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner, Johnson Space Center Director Vanessa Wyche, most of Houston’s congressional delegation and several astronauts gathered in Rice Stadium with hundreds of Rice community members and thousands of Houston ISD students to discuss the significance of Kennedy’s vision, both then and now. The overall effort was another successful step in efforts by our team and many others across campus to renew and build a more robust research relationship between Rice and NASA.
In October, Government Relations returned to Washington, D.C., for a series of Capitol Hill meetings and several national security-focused conversations between President DesRoches and federal agency representatives. We also helped arrange an opportunity for Katharine Neill Harris, the Alfred C. Glassell III, Fellow in Drug Policy at Rice’s Baker Institute for Public Policy, to testify before the Texas House of Representatives’ Interim Study Committee on Criminal Justice Reform. Her testimony addressed the committee’s inquiry into policies and penalties for drug offenses.
Also in October, we were honored to be able to help the Baker Institute’s Neal Lane and Kirstin Matthews as they successfully hosted a daylong visit by National Science Foundation Director Sethuraman Panchanathan, which included meetings with President DesRoches, Provost Amy Dittmar and Baker Institute Director David Satterfield, among others.
University Relations hosts community guests at JFK and inauguration events
For the University Relations team, September and October were busy with school tours, the 60th anniversary of the JFK Rice Stadium speech and the inauguration of Rice’s new president. From Sept. 10–12, thousands of community guests enjoyed exhibits by NASA’s Johnson Space Center and NASA’s space industry partners, set up in the Waltrip Indoor Training Center and an additional large temporary tent, concluding with a televised commemoration program attended by more than 5,000 Houston high school students. In addition to assisting in the planning and execution of these efforts, University Relations also updated the permanent JFK moon rock exhibit in Fondren Library to include the addition of a new Rice astronaut and former NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine ’97. They also arranged for the temporary exhibit at Rice of the original JFK Rice Stadium lectern, which University Relations loaned to Space Center Houston in 1993.
In addition to hosting its usual fall campus tours for elementary and middle school visiting groups, the Rice Welcome Center planned and provided guided shuttle tours and walking tours for hundreds of visiting delegates to the inauguration of President DesRoches. For the inauguration, the University Relations team also helped confirm and coordinate the participation of Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner; facilitated the design and sourcing of commemorative souvenirs for students, delegates and other campus and community guests; and assisted with planning and promoting the celebration’s unique illuminated drone sound and light show.
Inauguration invitations and programs
For the inauguration of Rice President Reginald DesRoches, Creative Services produced and edited 12 different invitation designs that were mailed to Rice alumni, faculty, staff, graduate students and undergraduates in addition to delegates from other universities and institutions of higher learning. Creative Services also designed and produced five programs, including the 20-page investiture ceremony program, for the various inauguration events. A total of 84,725 invitations and 8,100 programs were printed and distributed for this historic occasion.
Light pole banners
Creative Services developed new designs for the light pole banners around campus to highlight President DesRoches’ inauguration as well as shed light on the Be Bold Campaign (giving.rice.edu/be-bold) and highlights of campus life and culture. Approximately 150 light pole banners feature more than 75 unique designs. The banners were installed across campus prior to inauguration festivities and will remain in place for several months.
Creative Services designed a multitude of printed materials used by the university during a weekend of events celebrating 60 years of collaboration between Rice and NASA. Two brochures were developed and designed by Creative Services and then distributed at the main event at Rice Stadium Sept. 12, 2022 — the commemoration of the 60th anniversary of President John F. Kennedy’s moon speech.
To emphasize the importance of this university milestone, the Fall 2022 issue of Rice Magazine featured “We Choose to Return to the Moon,” a comprehensive story celebrating Rice’s relationship with NASA as well as Rice’s influence on future Mars missions (magazine.rice.edu/issues/fall-2022).
For Fondren Library, Creative Services also designed and printed a pop-up banner that illustrated many Rice University “firsts” with NASA, including alumni and faculty members who have been instrumental in the space program.
Multicultural Community Relations
Student leaders of color meet Office of Public Affairs staff
Multicultural Community Relations (MCR) and the Vice President for Public Affairs Linda Thrane hosted annual luncheons for the leaders of undergraduate and graduate student clubs of color Sept. 22 and 27 at Cohen House. The student groups included the Hispanic Association for Cultural Enrichment at Rice (HACER) and the Black Student Association. These luncheons allow Public Affairs to network with student leaders to determine how to best support the groups’ activities and programs and create opportunities for them to interact with the Greater Houston community.
Turley discusses new research strategies at community luncheon
Ruth Lopez Turley, sociology professor and new director of the Kinder Institute for Urban Research, delivered an inspiring presentation at MCR’s Community Dialogue Luncheon Oct. 7. Turley talked about her experiences working with underserved communities and how she has created a strategy for conducting research that provides applicable solutions to tough urban problems. More than 30 community leaders attended the luncheon at Cohen House.
Partnerships for a better K–12 education
On Sept. 6, for the first time since the beginning of the COVID pandemic, members of the K–12 council met in person in Fondren Library. David Pillen, associate athletic director of marketing at Rice, talked about K–12 activities he has planned for this academic year. Amy Kavalewitz Dern, executive director of the Oshman Engineering Design Kitchen (OEDK), discussed opportunities for connecting the Houston community with the OEDK. Najah Callander, executive director of Family and Community Engagement with the Houston Independent School District (HISD), discussed how to develop partnerships with HISD.
Keeping in touch with Houston communities
MCR attended and supported a host of activities in September and October. They included a dinner sponsored by Arte Publico Press, the Mexican Consulate “Ohtli” Award Ceremony honoring U.S. Rep. Sylvia R. Garcia, a reception honoring the first Black student athletes at Rice, a luncheon with the Mexican Consulate at Cohen House and a flamenco concert at the Grand Hall sponsored by the Consulate General of Spain. In addition, David Medina gave a talk to 200 people at Tomball High School’s Spanish Honor Society. MCR also sponsored a documentary presented by the Spanish Consulate.
MCR garners recognitions and awards
On Oct. 19, CASE District IV awarded MCR the Best of CASE District IV Award for its writing entry “Growing Pains,” an article written by David Medina in the Fall 2021 edition of Rice At Large.
The Texas Diversity Council selected David Medina as a recipient of the Individual DiversityFIRST Leadership Award, which was presented Oct. 27.
Marketing and Digital Communications
Inauguration marketing campaign — Fall 2022
A special media buy was put together to promote the inauguration of Rice’s new president to the Houston community. The buy focused on digital homepage takeovers with chron.com and the websites of local channels 2, 11 and 13. A print buy in the Houston Chronicle included a full-page color ad Friday, Oct. 21, and Sunday, Oct. 23. The digital ad featured a click through to the president’s webpage, which also included a link to the inauguration webpage, which Public Affairs created.
Total impressions: 994,777
Total clicks: 786
Sunday circulation: 220,000
Friday circulation: 175,000
The one-day digital campaign on four platforms generated almost 1 million impressions in the Greater Houston market. This contributed to the overall goal of bringing Rice to the Houston community.
The click-through rate (CTR) was also higher than average, delivering a 0.08% rate vs the average of 0.05% for similar campaigns.
Print circulation is used to calculate readership overall, which for this placement reached an estimated 770,000.
Combined circulation for chron.com e-subscribers and Houston Chronicle print subscribers reached a total circulation of 646,000 and total readership of 1,370,000.
Digital creative: animated three-panel placement with longest time spent on third panel
Print creative for Friday and Sunday
Visits to the homepage increased by 20% during September and October from the previous two months, accounting for the many events happening around President DesRoches’ inauguration as well as homecoming, reunion and families weekend (Owl Together 2022). Total page views were 510,650, with visitors spending an average time of 3 minutes, 20 seconds on the site, which continues to show that they are finding the information they need.
September/October Page views: 510,650 Average time on page: 3 minutes, 20 seconds Bounce rate: 69.88%
As of Aug. 31, the Office of Public Affairs and the Office of Information Technology have successfully launched 288 Drupal 9 websites. On Sept. 19, 2022, the Kinder Institute for Urban Research website (kinder.rice.edu) launched in the Rice-branded Drupal theme. On Oct. 18, 2022, the School of Social Sciences launched their strategic plan website (sssp.rice.edu), which lays out the path to take their place as the “preeminent home for social sciences research worldwide.”
The two departments are also collaborating on an additional 33 new websites that have come into the Rice-branded theme. Some of the websites currently under development are:
AGEP PRIMED Alliance
Afro-Diasporic Houston Symposium
Center for Engaged Research and Collaborative Learning (CERCL)
Center for Teaching Excellence (CTE)
Curriculum Management (Office of the Registrar)
Energy and Environment Initiative
Geofluids Lab | Helge Gonnermann
Innovation at Rice (VP of Innovation)
National Network of Education Research-Practice Partnerships (NNERPP)
Mathematics (site revamp)
Moody eXpErIeNcE (DAR)
Office of Faculty Development (OFD)
Organization & Workforce Laboratory (OWL)
The Chemistry of Art
** Website restructure/content update as well as the calendar system (LiveWhale) version update
Finally, all Drupal 9 websites have the new Google Analytics 4 set up and are tracking through the Google Search Console and Google Tag Manager. We are currently working on upgrading the reporting system that displays the vast amount of data from these websites and should have that in place before the EOL (End of Life) of Google Analytics 3 (aka Universal Analytics) at the end of June 2023.
Impressions: the number of times the content was seen. Total Audience: the number of people who follow or like the main Rice accounts. Engagements: the number of interactions (likes, love, shares, comments, clicks, etc.) on a post.
Social media channel overview for September and October:
Total net audience growth: 7,318 followers
Total impressions: 5,038,601
Total engagements: 330,896
Engagement rate per impression: 6.6%
Post link clicks: 30,431
Total audience across platforms: 267,339
Performance summary overview:
Impressions were up 40.5% for the period of Sept. 1–Oct. 31 as compared to the previous reporting period of July 2–Aug. 31. Engagements were up for the two-month period by 31.1% over the prior two-month period. The significant rise in both impressions and engagements were in part due to the JFK60 event and the presidential inauguration and homecoming.
Audience showed consistent growth throughout the reporting period. Twitter audience showed a one-day decline Sept. 24, coinciding with the Twitter rumor of it as a doomsday date; audiences regained momentum across Twitter the following day when it was shown to be false information. Net follower growth remained up, with a 7.4% gain over prior reporting period.
Twitter: Total followers: 44,169 Gained: 837 Engagement rate per impression: 3.1% Total published posts: 91 Top Post: 60 years ago, Sept. 12, 1962, President John F. Kennedy reaffirmed the country’s moon landing goal in his Rice University moonshot speech Second highest: Video — “This is a place where the greatest problems of the world can and will be solved,” said President Reginald DesRoches.
Total fans: 63,089 Gained: 527 Engagement rate per impression: 7.3% Total published posts: 100 Top Post: 60 years ago, Sept. 12, 1962, President John F. Kennedy's moonshot speech. Second highest: Rice Engineering named 10 Future Faculty Fellows
Total followers: 109,754 Gained: 4,540 Engagement rate per impression: 4.1% Total published posts: 56 Top Post: 60 years ago, Sept. 12, 1962, President John F. Kennedy Second highest: The inauguration of Reginald DesRoches.
Total followers: 50,302 Gained: 1,389 Engagement rate per impression: 8.0% Total published posts: 78 Top Post: 60 years ago, Sept. 12, 1962, President John F. Kennedy's moonshot speech. Second highest: Video — “This is a place where the greatest problems of the world can and will be solved.”
In spite of Facebook and Instagram seeing overall losses in organic engagement due to increasing popularity of TikTok videos, we have remained strong due to content that inspires interaction from our followers, with 330,896 engagements this period compared to 257,027 during the prior reporting period.
Impressions increased significantly over the prior reporting period, up from 3,643,289 to 5,038,601, with many more followers sharing content with their friends.
Post link clicks showed an increase, up from 17,195 in the prior two-month period to the current period’s 30,431 link clicks, with an increase in the number of YouTube links posted influencing the rise.
President Reginald DesRoches had the highest number of media mentions — 1,519 — during September and October, mainly for comments about how Rice navigates the changing landscape of higher education. Below are members of the Rice community who were mentioned in the media 10 or more times between September and October.
Kristian Coates Ulrichsen
Katharine Neill Harris
Jose Ivan Rodriguez-Sanchez
Xue (Sherry) Gao
Alexander Hernández Romanowski
Ruth López Turley
Robert Tesoriero Jr.
The chart below shows Rice’s media mentions since 2007. The green column reflects the number of mentions through Oct. 31, 2022.