An annual ranking recognized Rice University again — but the Houston school ranked a tad lower this year. Photo courtesy of Rice

Rice University has earned yet another accolade worth hooting about.

Niche, an education review and ranking website, has named Rice the ninth best college in the U.S., down from No. 6 last year. The Houston university receives an A+ in nine of the 12 ranking categories, including academics, diversity, and value. It gets an A for the party scene, a B+ for athletics, and a B for safety.

“We’re proud that Niche once again rates Rice not only one of the nation’s top universities, but also one of the nation’s best college values,” university President Reginald DesRoches said in 2022. “This is especially gratifying because Niche reflects the opinions of students and parents who know firsthand what outstanding education opportunities Rice continues to offer.”

Rice regularly ranks highly on lists of the best colleges and universities in the country, including those published by Niche, Forbes, and U.S. News & World Report.

“Rice is an awesome place. I went to Rice because I wanted professors who actually wanted to see their students succeed, and I can confidently say that’s what I found at Rice,” a student wrote in a Niche review. “The classes are thorough but the tests are very reasonable and focus on the material we learned in class.”

Topping Niche’s national list is Yale University, followed by Stanford University, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Harvard University, Princeton University, Columbia University, the University of Pennsylvania, and Dartmouth College.

Rice comes in at No. 12 on Niche’s list of the “best value colleges” in the U.S. and ranks first among the best colleges in Texas. Here are the top 10 Texas schools, including the eighth-ranked University of Houston:

1. Rice University
2. University of Texas at Austin
3. Texas A&M University (College Station)
4. Trinity University (San Antonio)
5. Southern Methodist University (University Park)
6. Texas Christian University (Fort Worth)
7. Texas Tech University (Lubbock)
8. University of Houston
9. University of Texas Permian Basin (Odessa)
10. Baylor University (Waco)

Other Houston-area schools in the Texas ranking are:

  • University of Houston – Clear Lake (No. 13)
  • University of St. Thomas (No. 26)
  • University of Houston – Downtown (No. 39)
  • Prairie View A&M University (No. 43)

“Choosing where to go to college is easily one of the most significant — and expensive — decisions of a person’s life. Niche’s mission is to ensure that every college-bound student has access to easy, transparent and free resources … to help them find their best fit,” Luke Skurman, founder and CEO of Niche, says in a news release.

Rice leaped forward one spot from last year's Niche ranking. Photo courtesy of Rice University

Rice University scores No. 6 rank among best colleges in the U.S. and No. 1 in Texas

something to hoot about

Rice University is a star student among the top colleges in the U.S.

A new ranking from education information and review platform Niche ranks Rice as the sixth best college in the country and the best in Texas, with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology holding the top spot nationally. Rice’s ranking is one notch above its seventh-place showing on the list Niche released in 2021.

“We’re proud that Niche once again rates Rice not only one of the nation’s top universities, but also one of the nation’s best college values,” says Reginald DesRoches, president of Rice. “This is especially gratifying because Niche reflects the opinions of students and parents who know firsthand what outstanding education opportunities Rice continues to offer.”

Rice also appears at No. 6 on Niche’s list of the best private schools in the U.S. and at No. 7 among colleges offering the best value. Both of those rankings are the highest in Texas.

Notably for locals, the University of Houston ranks No. 5 among the Top Public Universities in Texas.

Following Rice, here are the top colleges in Texas as determined by Niche:

  • University of Texas at Austin, No. 46 in the U.S. and No. 2 in Texas. UT also ranks eighth on the list of best public colleges in the U.S. and first in Texas.
  • Texas A&M University in College Station, No. 75 in the U.S. and No. 3 in Texas.
  • Southern Methodist University in Dallas, No. 82 in the U.S. and No. 4 in Texas.
  • Trinity University in San Antonio, No. 99 in the U.S. and No. 5 in Texas.
  • Texas Christian University in Fort Worth, No. 104 in the U.S. and No. 6 in Texas.
  • Texas Tech University in Lubbock, No. 148 in the U.S. and No. 7 in Texas.
  • Baylor University in Waco, No. 172 in the U.S. and No. 8 in Texas.
  • University of Texas at Dallas, No. 220 in the U.S. and No. 9 in Texas.
  • University of Houston, No. 232 in the U.S. and No. 10 in Texas.

To create the college rankings, Niche combines data from sources such as the U.S. Department of Education with user input — reviews and ratings from current students, alumni, and parents — in an analysis of factors such as academics, campus, and value for the financial investment. The rankings compare more than 1,000 colleges and universities across the country.

“We know that choosing where to go to college is a major life decision, and we’ve always been committed to helping students and their families make their choice with as much information as possible,” says Luke Skurman, founder and CEO of Niche. “With a mix of comprehensive data and millions of reviews, our 2023 best colleges rankings are a guide to the thousands of excellent institutions across the country.”

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This article originally ran on CultureMap.

St. John's School is ranked the No. 2 private high school in Texas. St. John's School.org

7 prestigious Houston-area high schools rank among best in Texas for 2021

report card

Several Houston-area school are among the top of their class among public and private high schools in Texas.

New rankings from education website Niche put three local institutions among the top public high schools in the state and four among the top private high schools in the state.

Carnegie Vanguard High School (in Houston ISD) leads the area best public high schools, while our prestigious St. John's School leads the private academies.

Niche ranks public high schools based on factors such as state test scores, college readiness, graduation rates, SAT/ACT scores, teacher quality, and Niche user ratings.

Meanwhile, Niche ranks private high schools based on factors like SAT/ACT scores, quality of colleges that students consider, student-teacher ratio, and Niche user ratings.

"Our 2022 rankings come at a time when so many parents are curious about the different options for their children's education, including some they may never have considered before," Luke Skurman, founder and CEO of Niche, says in a news release.

Other local schools also ranked well:

  • Top-ranked School for the Talented and Gifted (Dallas ISD).
  • Second-ranked Liberal Arts & Science Academy (Austin ISD).
  • Third-ranked School of Science and Engineering (Dallas ISD).
  • Fourth-ranked Westlake High School (Eanes ISD).
  • Fifth-ranked Carnegie Vanguard High School (Houston ISD).
  • Sixth-ranked DeBakey High School for Health Professions (Houston ISD).
  • Seventh-ranked Carroll Senior High School (Carroll ISD).
  • Eighth-ranked Westwood High School (Round Rock ISD).
  • Ninth-ranked Kinder High School for the Performing and Visual Arts (Houston ISD).
  • 10th-ranked Vandegrift High School (Leander ISD).

The top private high schools in Texas are:

  • Top-ranked St. Mark's School of Texas in Dallas.
  • Second-ranked St. John's School in Houston.
  • Third-ranked Greenhill School in Addison.
  • Fourth-ranked The Hockaday School in Dallas.
  • Fifth-ranked St. Stephen's Episcopal School in Austin.
  • Sixth-ranked The John Cooper School in The Woodlands.
  • Seventh-ranked The Awty International School in Houston.
  • Eighth-ranked Keystone School in San Antonio.
  • Ninth-ranked Cistercian Preparatory School in Irving.
  • 10th-ranked The Kincaid School in Houston.

As for the best school districts in Texas, they are:

  • Top-ranked Eanes ISD in Austin.
  • Second-ranked South Texas ISD in Mercedes.
  • Third-ranked Highland Park ISD in Dallas.
  • Fourth-ranked Carroll ISD in Southlake.
  • Fifth-ranked Coppell ISD in Coppell.
  • Sixth-ranked Lovejoy ISD in Allen.
  • Seventh-ranked Frisco ISD in Frisco.
  • Eighth-ranked Argyle ISD in Argyle.
  • Ninth-ranked Grapevine-Colleyville ISD in Grapevine.
  • 10th-ranked Allen ISD in Allen.
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This article originally ran on CultureMap.
Rice University ranks in the top 10 universities in the country, per this new report. Photo courtesy of Rice University

Annual report ranks Houston university as the best in Texas

best in class

There's something to be said for consistency. In a new report card from Niche.com, Rice University retains its No. 7 ranking among the best colleges in the U.S. and its No. 1 ranking among the best colleges in Texas.

Niche.com, which helps students and parents pick schools, relies on data from sources such as the U.S. Department of Education to compile its annual rankings, as well as reviews and ratings from current students, alumni, and parents.

Here are the top 10 schools in Niche.com's ranking of the country's best colleges:

  1. Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  2. Harvard University
  3. Stanford University
  4. Yale University
  5. Princeton University
  6. Duke University
  7. Rice University
  8. Brown University
  9. University of Pennsylvania
  10. Dartmouth College

Only two of the top 10 schools — Rice and Stanford — are west of the Mississippi River.

In this year's ranking, Niche.com de-emphasized the importance of SAT and ACT scores by 50 percent. In making that decision, Niche.com cited socioeconomic and racial disparities perpetuated by standardized tests, challenges making appointments for in-person tests due to COVID-19, and a rising number of institutions adopting test-optional policies.

"Our team recognizes that the COVID-19 pandemic, especially as new variants such as the delta variant arise, will continue to have an outsize impact on the college admissions process this year," Luke Skurman, founder and CEO of Niche.com, says in an August 16 news release. "We wanted to make sure our 2022 rankings reflect the current reality."

Rice is no stranger to accolades like the Niche.com ranking. It appears at No. 16 on U.S. News & World Report's most recent list of the top national universities, and at No. 16 in the most recent The Wall Street Journal/Times Higher Education rankings of top U.S. colleges. In both cases, Rice is the top-rated school in Texas.

On Niche.com's national list, the highest-ranked Texas school behind Rice is the University of Texas at Austin (No. 52). Meanwhile, UT holds the No. 14 spot nationally among the best colleges for student life, making it the top Texas school in that category.

Among nationally ranked schools, UT Austin is followed in Texas' top 10 by:

  • Texas A&M University in College Station, No. 80
  • Southern Methodist University in Dallas, No. 88
  • Trinity University in San Antonio, No. 96
  • Texas Christian University in Fort Worth, No. 115
  • Baylor University in Waco, No. 145
  • LeTourneau University in Longview, No. 162
  • Texas Tech University in Lubbock, No. 168
  • University of Texas at Dallas, No. 209
Rice has risen to the top again. Photo courtesy of Rice University

Rice University rises to top of Texas schools in prestigious U.S. News & World Report ranking

Head of class

Rice University continues to rise in national surveys. The latest: U.S. News & World Report's2021 Best Colleges, released September 14, anoints Rice as the best university in Texas. The prestigious Houston school — dubbed the "Ivy League of the South" — ranks No. 16 among national universities, up one spot from last year.

This is in step with last year's U.S. News & World Report's Best Colleges list, which also named Rice the best university in Texas.

The trusted report compared more than 1,400 undergraduate institutions across 17 measures of "academic quality" this year. Acknowledging the ongoing impact of the coronavirus pandemic on students and schools, the publication made several updates to its methodology, notes a release.

For 2021, U.S. News added two new metrics to measure student debt. It also increased the weight of the outcome category, which measures graduation rates, retention rates, and social mobility, and reduced the weights for standardized test scores, high school class standing, and alumni giving. And, for the very first time, the report ranks test-blind schools (those that don't require an SAT or ACT score for admission).

"The pandemic has affected students across the country, canceling commencement ceremonies and switching classes from in person to remote," said Kim Castro, editor and chief content officer, in a release. "Whether students have slightly altered their college plans or changed them entirely, it remains our mission to continue providing students and their families with the tools they need to help find the right school for them."

Now, on to the rankings. Here's how Rice scores in the prestigious report:

  • No. 6 in Best Undergraduate Teaching
  • No. 8 in Best Value Schools
  • No. 18 in Most Innovative Schools (tie)
  • No. 224 in Top Performers on Social Mobility (tie)
  • No. 19 in Best Undergraduate Engineering Programs (tie)

For 2021, the University of Texas at Austin ranks No. 42 nationally, up a significant six spots from 2020. It's also the school's highest ranking on the report since 1985, touts a news release from the university. Among the country's public universities, UT Austin climbed four spots from the previous year, landing at No. 13.

As for Texas' other top schools, Southern Methodist University and Texas A&M University are tied at No. 66 nationwide, while Baylor University and Texas Christian University rank No. 76 and No. 80, respectively.

The lofty U.S. News & World Report ranking is just the latest in accolades for the Owls. Rice was recently named the seventh best college in the U.S. and the best college in Texas by Niche.com.

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This article originally ran on CultureMap.

Rice University joins prestigious schools such as MIT and Harvard. Photo courtesy of Rice University

Houston university declared No. 7 in the nation and best in Texas by new study

POMP AND PRESTIGE

The Owls of Rice University have a lot to hoot about. The Houston school has been ranked as the seventh best college in the U.S. and the best college in Texas.

Niche.com's latest college rankings, released August 21, rely on U.S. Department of Education data coupled with reviews from current students, alumni, and parents to judge American colleges on 12 factors, including academics, campus, dorm life, and professors. Niche.com helps parents and students choose colleges and K-12 schools.

Last year's Niche.com list of the best colleges put Rice at No. 10, so it jumped up three spots this year.

On the new list, Rice ranks fourth among the colleges with the best professors, 10th among the colleges with the best value, and 16th among the hardest colleges to get into.

Here's Niche.com's new report card for the country's 10 best colleges:

  1. Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Boston
  2. Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts
  3. Stanford University, Palo Alto, California
  4. Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut
  5. Duke University, Durham, North Carolina
  6. Princeton University, Princeton, New Jersey
  7. Rice University
  8. California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, California
  9. Brown University, Providence, Rhode Island
  10. University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia

Known as the "Harvard of the South," Rice "is a premier research institution with a 300-acre campus that serves as a green oasis in the heart of Houston," Forbes noted in 2019.

In Niche.com's ranking this year, Rice earns bragging rights as the best college in Texas. Here are the state's top 10, according to Niche.com:

  1. Rice University
  2. University of Texas at Austin
  3. Texas A&M University, College Station
  4. Southern Methodist University, Dallas
  5. Trinity University, San Antonio
  6. Texas Christian University, Fort Worth
  7. Baylor University, Waco
  8. LeTourneau University, Longview
  9. Texas Tech University, Lubbock
  10. University of Texas at Dallas

Shortly after the Niche.com rankings came out, Rice appeared at the top of The Princeton Review's list of American colleges and universities with the overall best quality of life. Every year, The Princeton Review rates colleges and universities based on critiques submitted by students at 386 schools.

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This article originally appeared on CultureMap.

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CultureMap Emails are Awesome

3 Houston innovators to know this week

who's who

Editor's note: Every week, I introduce you to a handful of Houston innovators to know recently making headlines with news of innovative technology, investment activity, and more. This week's batch includes a podcast with the founder of a new venture firm, a former astronaut and recent award recipient, and a health care innovator with fresh funding.

Zach Ellis, founder and managing partner of South Loop Ventures

Zach Ellis explains on the Houston Innovators Podcast that South Loop Ventures plans to invest in promising companies from across the country and bring them into Houston's ecosystem to grow and scale. Photo via LinkedIn

Houston has a lot of the right ingredients for commercialization and scaling up companies, so when Zach Ellis moved to town to stand up a venture capital firm that made investments in diverse founders, he decided to go about it in an innovative way.

South Loop Ventures, which Ellis launched two years ago, invests in pre-seed and seed-stage startups across health care, climatetech, aerospace, sports, and fintech. While the first handful of investments, which have already been made, are into Houston-based companies, Ellis explains on the Houston Innovators Podcast that the firm plans to invest in promising companies from across the country and bring them into Houston's ecosystem to grow and scale.

"Any investor wants to feel like they are looking at the best possible investment opportunities in which to deploy capital," Ellis says on the show. "So that's reason No. 1 to cast your net as widely as possible.

"At the same time, you want to give any investment that you make greatest chances of success," he continues. "The biggest factor of success outside of the team and the capital you give them, is the customers that they can call upon. In bringing targeted companies to Houston or connecting them with Houston, you introduce the opportunity for them to achieve rapid scale and work with world-class partners very efficiently." Read more.


Toby R. Hamilton, founder and CEO of Hamilton Health Box

Dr. Toby Hamilton has secured $10 million to grow his company. Photo via tmc.edu

A Houston company that is working on a value-based model for primary care has fresh funding to support its mission.

Hamilton Health Box announced the completion of a $10 million series A funding round led by 1588 Ventures with participation from Memorial Hermann Health System, Impact Ventures by Johnson & Johnson Foundation, Texas Medical Center Venture Fund, and the Sullivan Brothers.

The company, founded in 2019 by Dr. Toby R. Hamilton, will use the funding to fuel its expansion into rural areas to help assist those living in Health Professional Shortage Areas, or HPSAs. Read more.

Ellen Ochoa, former astronaut and center director at the NASA's Johnson Space Center

Ellen Ochoa was recognized for her leadership at NASA Johnson and for being the first Hispanic woman in space. Photo via NASA

Two astronauts recently received Presidential Medals of Freedom from President Joe Biden for their leadership in space.

Ellen Ochoa, the former center director and astronaut at the NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston, and Jane Rigby, senior project scientist for NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope, were honored at the White House on May 3.

Ochoa spent 30 years with NASA, which included being the 11th director of JSC, deputy center director of JSC, and director of Flight Crew Operations. She served on the nine-day STS-56 mission aboard the space shuttle Discovery in 1993, and became the first Hispanic woman in space. She flew four more times to space with STS-66, STS-96, STS-110, and more.

“I’m so grateful for all my amazing NASA colleagues who shared my career journey with me,” Ochoa says in a NASA news release. Read more.

Houston health care institutions receive $22M to attract top recruits

coming to Hou

Houston’s Baylor College of Medicine has received a total of $12 million in grants from the Cancer Prevention & Research Institute of Texas to attract two prominent researchers.

The two grants, which are $6 million each, are earmarked for recruitment of Thomas Milner and Radek Skoda. The Cancer Prevention & Research Institute of Texas (CPRIT) announced the grants May 14.

Milner, an expert in photomedicine for surgery and diagnostics, is a professor of surgery and biomedical engineering at the Beckman Laser Institute & Medical Clinic at the University of California, Irvine and the university’s Chao Family Comprehensive Cancer Center

In 2013, Milner was named Inventor of the Year by the University of Texas at Austin. At the time, he was a professor of biomedical engineering at UT. One of his major achievements is co-development of the MasSpec Pen, a handheld device that identifies cancerous tissue within 10 seconds during surgical procedures.

Skoda is a professor of molecular medicine in the Department of Biomedicine at the University of Basel and the University Hospital Basel, both in Switzerland. He specializes in developing treatments for myeloproliferative neoplasms, which are a group of blood diseases including leukemia.

Other recruitment grants provided by the institute to Houston-area organizations are:

  • $4 million for recruitment of Susan Bullman to the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center. She was an assistant professor at Seattle’s Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center, where she studied the connection between microbes and cancer.
  • $4 million for recruitment of Oren Rom to the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center. Rom is an assistant professor of pathology and translational pathobiology at Louisiana State University Shreveport.
  • Nearly $2 million for recruitment of Lauren Hagler to conduct RNA cancer biology at Texas A&M University. She is a postdoctoral scholar in biochemistry at Stanford University.

The institute also awarded grants to five companies in the Houston area:

  • $4.7 million to 7 Hills Pharma for development of immunotherapies to treat cancer and prevent infectious diseases.
  • $4.5 million to Indapta Therapeutics for the Phase 1 trial of a cell therapy for treatment of multiple myeloma and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
  • $2.75 million to Bectas Therapeutics for development of antibodies and biomarkers to overcome a type of resistance T-cell checkpoint therapy.
  • $2.69 million to MS Pen Technologies for development of technology that differentiates between normal tissue and cancerous tissue during surgery.
  • $2.58 million to Crossbridge Bio for development of an antibody-drug combination to treat certain solid tumors.