rice rises again

Rice University rises with plan to significantly grow student body

Rice will see a big increase in students in the coming years. Rice.edu

Houston's list-topping Ivy League of the South hub is set to see significant growth. Rice University's board of trustees has approved a plan to enlarge its undergraduate student body by 20 percent, the school announced. That means some additional 4,800 students by the fall of 2025.

To accommodate this expansion, Rice will open its 12th residential college and expand the number of students living on campus by approximately one-third — to 3,525.

Rice calculates that its number of graduate students (3,500) is expected to grow, which will bring the total number of undergrad and grad students to about 9,000 by fall 2025. The undergraduate student-faculty ratio would remain roughly the same: about six faculty members for every undergraduate student, the school adds in a press release.

With the newly announced expansion in enrollment, Rice's student body will have grown by around 80 percent over 20 years, per a press release.

This expansion isn't unprecedented: The school notes a roughly 35-percent increase in undergraduate enrollment between fall 2005 and 2013, as well as enlargement in graduate programs.

Not surprisingly, demand for a Rice education is high, as the school reports that the number of students applying to has grown around 75 percent over the last four years. The growth was aided by the Rice Investment, a financial aid program launched in 2018 that significantly expanded support for domestic students from families with incomes up to $200,000.

For example, in 2004, Rice received about 11 applications for every entering student; by 2020, the ratio had grown to roughly 28 applicants for every student opening. Almost 30,000 students applied for fall 2021, marking an increase of 26 percent from the previous year.

Students can expect new construction on the campus, including a new engineering building, a new building for the visual and dramatic arts, an additional residential college, and an expanded student center. The familiar and beloved Rice Memorial Center (the ol' RMC to generations of students) will be replaced; construction will begin in the first quarter of next year.

The school's new three-story, 80,000-square-foot student center will incorporate all of the RMC's current functions, a multicultural center, and gathering and event spaces. The facility will be designed by the international architecture firm Adjaye Associates, which spearheaded the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture.

Business-minded new students will also be able to take advantage of the university's first undergraduate major in business, which will be offered beginning this fall. Current freshmen and incoming undergraduates are also eligible. Faculty and curriculum will come from the Rice's top-ranked Jones Graduate School of Business.

New students can also take advantage of Rice's newest initiatives, including, per the school:

The Welch Institute at Rice University
Thanks to a massive, $100 million commitment from the Robert E. Welch Foundation (the largest single gift in school history), the institute will accelerate the discovery, design, and manufacture of the next generation of basic materials.

Carbon Hub
The hub, announced in 2019. will direct $100 million of basic science and engineering on an array of technologies, several of which have already been proven in the lab, to create an energy future with zero carbon emissions.

The Rice University National Security Research Accelerator laboratories
A partnership with the Army Futures Command and the Army Research Laboratory represents a new model for collaborative research on critical technologies to enhance national security, a release notes.

"Rice's extraordinary applicant pool has grown dramatically despite the challenges posed by the pandemic," David Leebron, Rice president, noted in a statement. "With the previous expansion we greatly increased our national and international student applications, enrollment and visibility. We also dramatically increased diversity on our campus, and we were able to extend the benefits of a Rice education to many more students. As before, we must undertake this expansion carefully in order to assure that we retain the best aspects of Rice culture, student experience and sense of community."

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This article originally ran on CultureMap.

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Building Houston

 
 

Craig Lawrence and Neal Dikeman co-founded a new venture capital firm focused on funding technology as a part of the energy transition. Photos courtesy

Two Texas entrepreneurs recently announced what they say is the first venture fund in Texas exclusively dedicated to investing in energy transition technologies.

Houston-based Energy Transition Ventures — led by Craig Lawrence and Neal Dikeman — officially emerged from stealth mode with anchor investment from two operating companies from the GS Group of Korea. The fund closed its first capital in February this, completed its first investment in March, and looks to close new investors for a total fund size of $75 million, according to a press release.

"In the near future, energy is going to be delivered and used completely differently. Marginal and average energy and CO2e prices are now on a long term deflationary trend," says Dikeman in the release. "There are 500 multi-billion dollar energy companies globally, and massive portions of global GDP, that are going to get disrupted in the energy transition, from energy & power, transport, real estate, industrial to consumer to agriculture."

Dikeman, who is the managing partner at Old Growth Ventures, a family office investor, also chairs the board at nonprofit cleantech accelerator Cleantech.org, virtual research institute. In 2001, he co-founded San Francisco based cleantech investment firm Jane Capital in 2001.

"We've been successful being highly selective as investors, and using our deep networks and understanding of energy and technology to avoid pitfalls other investors faced. It is exciting to be off the bench to do it again," he continues.

Lawrence, who's also been a part of the cleantech revolution for a chunk of his career, previously started and led the cleantech investing effort at Accel Partners and was previously vice president of product at software company Treverity. The duo chose the Energy Capital of the World to headquarter ETV.

"Texas is the energy capital of the world, and outside of corporate venture capital, there are not many venture funds in the state," says Lawrence. "So it makes sense to start an energy transition focused fund here as the latest wave of clean technology investing accelerates."

ETV will fund from seed to series B with select late-stage opportunities, according to the release, and will colocate a Silicon Valley office with GS Futures, the Silicon Valley-based corporate venture capital arm of energy, construction, and retail conglomerate GS Group of Korea.

"We're excited to be investing in ETV and in the future of energy," says Tae Huh, managing director of GS Futures, in the release. "Energy Transition Ventures is our first investment from the new GS Futures fund, and we've already run successful pilots in Korea with three US startups even before this fund closed an investment – we are working to accelerate the old model of corporate venture dramatically."

Jon Wellinghoff, former chair of FERC, and Deb Merril, president of EDF Retail and co-founder and former co-CEO of Just Energy, have also joined ETV as advisors. GS Energy executive Q Song moves from Seoul, Korea, to join the Houston ETV investment team, according to the release.

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