Weeks before Russia invaded Ukraine, reporters and television producers across the nation began consulting with Rice faculty experts for their perspective on what has developed into the largest European military conflict since World War II. Skyrocketing oil and gasoline prices triggered by the war led to an avalanche of requests for interviews with the university’s energy experts, notably the Baker Institute’s Mark Finley, Ken Medlock, Anna Mikulska and Francisco Monaldi. The Ukraine war and its impact on world oil markets accounted for more than 9,200 mentions of Rice in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, BBC and scores of other outlets.
As paralysis in Congress leads national political reporters to focus more attention on state legislatures, Texas elections are coming under growing media scrutiny. The Texas primaries in March led journalists from across the U.S. to call on Rice’s stable of political scientists for their expertise, including their perspective on unprecedented problems at polling places in Houston. Texas political stories led to hundreds of mentions of Rice in media outlets, including USA Today, U.S. News and World Report, the Hill and Reuters.
Rice bioengineers proved they could eradicate advanced-stage ovarian and colorectal cancer in mice in as little as six days. Their treatment could be ready for human clinical trials later this year. Although many journalists and media outlets are reluctant to report results of studies conducted on mice, the results of this research were so remarkable that they generated coverage in U.S. News and World Report, the Daily Mail, NBC News Right Now and dozens of science and pharmaceutical journals.
For a full list of March and April media stars,
please see the last section of this report.
Government Relations supports D.C. trips and hosts congressional visits
In March, Government Relations activity saw an uptick as we supported a trip by the provost to Washington, D.C., and shared the long awaited Texas House of Representatives interim charges with numerous audiences across campus. During Provost Reginald DesRoches’ trip, we facilitated his participation in the Research!America 2022 Advocacy Awards reception, introduced him to Sens. Roy Blunt, R-MO, and John Hickenlooper, D-CO, and invited several Rice alumni working on Capitol Hill to join us at the event. We also arranged a series of congressional meetings for DesRoches, including with Rep. Lizzie Fletcher, D-TX, and Sen. John Cornyn, R-TX.
April was even more active, with DesRoches making another trip to Washington, several members of Congress visiting campus, and our preparation and submission of several fiscal year 2023 appropriation requests to Rice research groups. The provost returned to D.C. in early April, where we helped him arrange meetings with Rep. Frank Lucas, R-OK, Sen. Ted Cruz, R-TX, and Dr. Erwin Gianchandani, the newly named assistant director for the National Science Foundation’s new Technology, Innovation and Partnerships (TIP) Directorate. Government Relations also assisted on campus with several congressional visits, including Rep. Michael McCaul, R-TX, for a Baker Institute Director’s Lecture Series talk about the war in Ukraine and Rep. Dan Crenshaw, R-TX, for a Healthcare Innovation Summit at the Anderson-Clarke Center, at which Rice’s Jacob Robinson was a featured panelist.
Rice celebrates opening of Brockman Hall for Opera
In April, University Relations partnered with Media Relations, Multicultural Community Relations and the Shepherd School of Music to celebrate the opening of the new Brockman Hall for Opera. The University Relations team secured a mayoral proclamation for the new building’s ribbon cutting that took place during the April 9 community open house and helped to promote the event to community contacts. The team then hosted neighborhood leaders and city officials at the April 14 and 16 public performances of Mozart’s "Don Giovanni" and welcomed Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner at the April 22 gala fundraiser and concluding performance.
Public Affairs’ Faith Neyra holds the proclamation presented to Shepherd School Dean Matthew Loden by District C City Council chief of staff Lance Gilliam at the April 9 community open house and ribbon cutting.
Rice alumna and Houston Public Works Director Carol Haddock ’91 was among the community guests who enjoyed the first performances in the new Brockman Hall for Opera.
Former Shepherd School Dean Robert Yekovich and current Dean Matthew Loden celebrate the opening night performance on April 14.
Bravi! The opening night cast and orchestra take a well deserved bow.
Our first full academic year in the Welcome Center since COVID
While we reopened campus tours with the Welcome Center in June 2021, this was our first full academic year hosting tours since the pandemic. Below you can find more details on the groups we were able to welcome back to campus.
The Welcome Center hosted 85 campus tours from August to May and interacted with over 4,400 participants.
The following two images depict where the visiting schools are located around the city. Schools came from 24 districts, as far north as Spring and Kingwood and as far south as Alvin.
Ken Kennedy Institute conference program
Creative Services designed an event program for the 2022 Energy High Performance Computing Conference, held annually in the spring. The program book was part of an overall package that included pop-up banners and other signage.
Carbon neutral campus
As part of a campaign featuring Rice’s announcement that it would be moving the campus to carbon neutrality by 2030, Creative Services produced a flyer and a series of digital ads driving viewers back to a web page featuring all the related stories.
Humanities Big Questions
Working with the School of Humanities, Creative Services created promotional materials advertising the fall 2022 Big Questions series. The 92 courses included “What is a Fact?” and “What is an [Ab]normal Body?” Other materials included posters, social media graphics and easel display boards.
Multicultural Community Relations
Celebrating Black History Month with celebrated writer
In honor of Black History Month, Multicultural Community Relations was able to score a coup by securing Jelani Cobb, a staff writer for the New Yorker and journalism professor at Columbia University, to participate in a panel discussion with two Rice professors and a Rice alumna. MCR raised most of the funds to pay for Cobb’s talk, “The Half Life of Freedom: Race and Justice in America Today,” which was attended by participants from around the country.
Galas, galas and more events
In between the waves of the pandemic, many Houston nonprofit organizations took advantage of the pause by hosting galas. MCR represented Rice at five galas hosted by Teach for America, the Chinquapin School, KIPP, Lunar New Year and Phi Beta Kappa. MCR also partnered with the Development Office and the MultiCultural Center to support the Black Student Association (BSA) gala, which resulted in a sold-out event. Provost Reginald DesRoches served as keynote speaker and received an award for being an excellent professor and mentor. On March 31, MCR partnered with the Office of Multicultural Affairs to host an appreciation event for Rice support staff from Housing and Dining and Facilities Engineering and Planning. In late April, the Shepherd School of Music celebrated the opening of the Brockman Hall for Opera by hosting a community open house. MCR helped promote the event by inviting K–12 teachers and their families.
How to get into college: Admission trends
On April 14, at MCR’s Community Dialogue Luncheon, Vice President for Enrollment Yvonne Romero Da Silva gave an informative talk about college admissions trends. Attending the luncheon were representatives from the city of Houston’s department of education, a board member from Houston Community College, two board members from Houston Independent School District and an education representative from the office of the consulate general of Spain. Later in the day, MCR organized a private tour at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston for members of the Association of Rice University Black Alumni (ARUBA), as well as Black faculty, staff and students, to view the Dawoud Bey and Obama portrait exhibits. Attending the tour were the newly elected president of Rice’s Black Student Association, Malaika Bergner; ARUBA member Merinda Watkins-Martin, who provided generous support for the exhibits; and Monique Shankle, the president of the Association of Rice Alumni. On April 19, MCR hosted a cultural event with community partner La Casa de España.
Diversity Conference honors President Leebron
MCR’s director served on the planning committee for the April 22 Diversity Summit. President David Leebron was recognized at the event for his achievements in diversity, equity and inclusion. Also, Richard Baker, executive director of institutional equity and EEO, took part in a panel discussion on diversity in higher education.
Rice finds a friend in the Fifth Ward
In a recent issue of Rice At Large, the newsletter that highlights Rice’s engagement with the Houston community, one story featured a former Rice professor who started a nonprofit group to help Wheatley High School in the Fifth Ward. Also in the issue are stories promoting summer camps at Rice for precollege students.
Marketing and Digital Communications
Visits to the homepage decreased during March and April, largely due to spring break and the removal of the Canvas login page (which now resides on the Learning Environments website as part of OIT). Total page views were 421,286, with visitors spending an average time of 3 minutes, 36 seconds on the site, which continues to show that they are finding the information they need.
March/April Page views: 421,286 Average time on page: 3 minutes, 36 seconds Bounce rate: 70.94%
As of April 30, Public Affairs and the Office of Information Technology have successfully launched 268 Drupal 8 websites. On March 31, 2022, the KnOWLedge Café website launched in the Rice-branded Drupal theme, replacing one half of Human Resources, antiquated WordPress site with a new design, real-time content and a new user experience.
The two departments are also collaborating on an additional 39 new websites that have come into the Rice-branded theme. Some of the websites currently under development are:
Center for Engaged Research and Collaborative Learning (CERCL)
Earth, Environmental and Planetary Sciences
Genetic Design and Engineering Center
Geofluids Lab | Helge Gonnermann
Houston Wastewater Epidemiology
Inauguration of Reginald DesRoches
Office of Faculty Development (OFD)
Organization & Workforce Laboratory (OWL)
Rice Center for Quantum Materials (RCQM)
Rice Emergency Medical Services
The Chemistry of Art
The Kinder Institute for Urban Research
Vice President for Administration
Impressions reflects the number of times the content was seen. Followers reflects the number of people who follow the main Rice accounts. Engagements reflects the number of interactions (likes, loves, shares, comments, clicks) on a post.
Social media channel overview for March and April:
Gained 3,694 followers
11,235,008 impressions. This is a 244% increase from January and February.
335,972 engagements. This is a 93% increase from January and February.
74,821 post link clicks.* This is a 171% increase from January and February.
Total followers across platforms: 256,230
*Post Link Clicks counts number of times users clicked on links from posts.
Total followers: 41,789 Gained: 609 followers. This is a 7% increase. Top post: Rice University has announced tuition for the 2022-23 academic year Second-highest post: Rice bioengineers have created tiny implants that activate immune cells to destroy cancer
Total followers: 60,496 Gained: 469 likes. This is a 128% increase. Top post: The Shepherd School of Music Brockman Hall for Opera grand opening Second-highest post: Rice bioengineers have created tiny implants that activate immune cells to destroy cancer
Total followers: 102,092 Gained: 2,014 followers Top post: The Shepherd School of Music Brockman Hall for Opera grand opening Second-highest post: The Brockman Hall for Opera is officially open
Total followers: 48,170 Gained: 875 followers. This is a 3% increase Top post: The return of Beer Bike Second-highest post: Owl Days for class of 2026
The opening of the Brockman Hall for Opera had a high engagement rate.
Boosting posts in March and April added to the overall impressions.
Instagram growth slows as prospective students stop following once they receive their notice of acceptance.
Francisco Monaldi, fellow in Latin American energy policy at the Center for Energy Studies, the Center for the United States and Mexico, and the Latin America Initiative at the Baker Institute for Public Policy and a lecturer in energy economics at Rice, had the highest number of media mentions — 3,678 — during March and April, mainly for comments about global oil concerns. Below are members of the Rice community who were mentioned in the media 10 or more times during March and April.
James Baker III
Yan "Anthea" Zhang
Lesa Tran Lu
Kristian Coates Ulrichsen
Elaine Howard Ecklund
Katharine Neill Harris
Duy Xuan Luong
Michelle Michot Foss
The chart below shows Rice’s media mentions since 2007. The green column reflects the number of mentions through April 30, 2022.