houston innovators podcast episode 214
Entrepreneurship doesn't require a MBA from Rice University, but Dean Peter Rodriguez wants to make sure that the students who do pass through the halls of the Jesse H. Jones Graduate School of Business are well prepared for creating a successful company.
"We really want to be the deliverer of the software in people's brain of how to launch great companies and to be trumpeting the opportunities here," he says on the Houston Innovators Podcast.
Rodriguez joined the school as dean in 2016, and since then he's doubled MBA enrollment, grown the tenure-track faculty by over 40 percent, launched an online graduate degree, created an undergraduate business major, and more.
"When I came here, I thought Rice had the best strategic foundation of any university for a great business school — and a lot of that is being really closely connected to Houston and bringing in innovation," he says on the show.
And he's got more in the works, even including expansion plans for the school's physical space next to the recently renovated McNair Hall. He says the school is currently working on a 110,000-square-foot building adjacent to McNair.
"It's largely going to house our undergraduate programming, some of the MBA programming, and create a lot more space for all the things we've done in the past six or several years," Rodriguez says. "It's always a bit of a battle keeping up with investment needs and making students ready for the world."
Rodriguez calls out some of the ways Rice has increased its connection to Houston's business and innovation community, including opening the Ion, introducing innovative programs to take innovation on campus to commercialization, and more.
"We have to be hyper connected to everything going on in the city to do our job well," he says.
One of the recent way the school has connect its student body to the Houston business community is through its recent Rice Energy Finance Summit, which took place earlier this month. The student-led program has been ongoing for 15 years and gives students a chance to work with business leaders in the energy sector.
"One of the five pillars of our strategy is to be the leading business school of the country for the studying and advancement of the energy transition and decarbonization of the economy," he says. "We think that we can be the premiere school for training people in the rapidly evolving field of energy."