Residential colleges of Rice University

Residential colleges of Rice University

The residential colleges of Rice University comprise eleven separate residential colleges which function as the primary housing, dining, and social organization for undergraduate students. The system was established in 1957 and was inspired by the residential college systems at the University of Oxford and the University of Cambridge as well as the American adaptations of the same at Harvard and Yale.[1] Each student is randomly affiliated with a residential college upon matriculation and becomes a lifetime member of the college.[2][3] The residential college system takes the place of a greek system, and has contributed to a sense of community that other universities have sought to emulate.[4][5][6][7][8]

At academic ceremonies, including Matriculation and Commencement, the colleges process in the following order: the four original colleges in the order Baker, Will Rice, Hanszen, and Wiess, followed by the other colleges in order of founding: Jones, Brown, Lovett, Sid Richardson, Martel, McMurtry, and Duncan. For the original four colleges, which became colleges at the same time in 1957, the processional order reflects the order in which the original buildings were constructed. For McMurtry and Duncan, which were built at the same time and opened simultaneously in August 2009, the processional order reflects the order in which the founding gifts were made.

The colleges are often classified by geographical location: Jones, Brown, Martel, McMurtry and Duncan are the North colleges; Baker, Will Rice, Hanszen, Wiess, Lovett and Sid Richardson are the South colleges.


History of the college system

The residential college system was instated in 1957 by converting East, South, West, and North Halls into the men's colleges of Baker, Will Rice, Hanszen, and Wiess, respectively.[9] Jones, the first residential college built on campus for that purpose, was constructed the same year and became the singular women's college. Brown, Lovett, and Sid Richardson colleges composed the initial expansion founded between 1965 and 1971. To cope with increasing enrollment,[10] Martel, Duncan, and McMurtry colleges were constructed in the period between 2001 and 2009. Today, when undergraduates are asked where they are from, many respond with the name of their college, not their home state. This is a testament to the centrality of the residential college system to the social life on the Rice campus.

Common characteristics


Each college except Sid Richardson is built around a quadrangle, which serves as the central court of the college.

Each college building includes three principal structures:

  • A residential building, where on-campus members of the college live. In addition to student rooms in various configurations, the building includes at least two apartments for resident associates. Resident associates are typically junior faculty members; their role is to serve as mentors and counselors to the students of the college.
  • A house, usually immediately adjacent to the residential building, in which the college Master or Masters live. A Master is typically a tenured or other senior faculty member who lives at the college with his or her spouse, providing leadership and guidance to the college as a whole and to individual students. (Historically the term Master was reserved for faculty members, while a non-faculty spouse held the title Co-Master. Today, both spouses are known as Masters.)
  • A commons, where college members (including on-campus and off-campus students, Masters, resident associates, and non-resident associates from the faculty and the community) take their meals and conduct other activities of college life, including study groups, lectures, theatrical productions, and parties. In addition to a large multi-purpose dining hall, each commons typically includes an administrative office, a private dining room for small group meetings, and other specialized areas.

Each college has a unique architectural style, and as a result there are a great number of different room configurations, with varying levels of modernity and condition.

Each college is also connected to a dining hall, known as a servery. Martel, Jones, and Brown colleges are served by the North Servery, while McMurtry and Duncan are served by the West Servery. In the South, Hanszen and Wiess colleges are served by the South Servery, and Will Rice and Lovett Colleges are served by the East Servery. Baker and Sid Richardson each have their own servery.

Masters and Resident Associates

Each of the residential colleges at Rice has two College Masters, a faculty member and his or her spouse. The Masters reside in a home adjacent to the college, and help cultivate a variety of cultural and intellectual interests among the students, as well as support an effective system of self-government. They administer the college and serve as liaisons between the students of the college and Rice.

Resident Associates (RAs) are Rice faculty or staff members who reside on campus with students. While each college has many associates, the RAs are selected to live on campus at the college to interact more extensively with the students. They live in apartment suites at the colleges, regularly attend meals with students, and are generally active members of student life. McMurtry College and Duncan College, due to their population size, also have Head Resident Fellows, who are meant to ease communication between RAs, the Masters, and the students.

Two of the longest-serving resident associates in Rice history are Dr. Gilbert Cuthbertson, professor of political science and resident associate at Will Rice College, and Dr. Bill Wilson, professor of electrical engineering and resident associate at Wiess College.


Each college is in charge of an annual budget in excess of $50,000 and elects a government from its students to administer the college and the budget. The college governments can exert control over everything from event organization to upgrades to the college facilities. Governing documents for many of the colleges can be found online.[11][12][13][14][15][16] Singular student presidents and chief justices are university mandated features of each college's government. Additional members vary per college, but typically include Treasurer, Secretary, and a plurality of representatives from each class. The executive officers, such as the President, Treasurer, and Secretary, form the Executive council, and the representatives combine with the council to form the college government, known by names such as Cabinet or Parliament, depending on the college. These councils meet weekly to dispense with business related to the organizational and social functioning of the college. The meetings are akin to town hall meetings and typically include refreshments; they also serve as a forum for members of the various clubs, theater groups, and intramural sporting clubs to announce and advertise upcoming events. In addition, each college elects and sends one senator to represent the college at the Student Association.


The traditional campus-wide Beer Bike competition is the largest annual student event held on Rice campus and the source of many rivalries and traditions among the residential colleges.[17] In recent years, a tradition has emerged wherein the Sid Richardson men's team intentionally disqualify themselves using any of a variety of means, most recently with a fire extinguisher-powered "rocket bike." Sid Richardson has been disqualified in at least one race each year since 2000, with the exception of 2003 and 2007 when the biking was replaced with running due to inclement weather.[18][19] Will Rice is well-known for its dominance of the university's annual campus-wide Beer Bike competition among the residential colleges. Will Rice has held the longest winning streak on record in the alumni race (11 years from 1996 to 2006), and regularly fields strong men's and women's teams. After the inclusion of an Alumni Race, Will Rice has been the only college to have won all three of the races in a given year, which it has done on four occasions — 1983, 1986, 1999, and 2009.[18] In addition, Will Rice holds the current track records for the men's, women's, and alumni races.[18]

Baker College

Baker College
Established 1957
Namesake James Addison Baker
Masters Ivo-Jan van der Werff, Rosemary van der Werff
President Manny Fuentes
Chief Justice Keenan May
Membership 360 (approximate)
Colors Red      Black      Silver     
Location 6320 Main St., Houston, Texas, USA

James Addison Baker College was the first residential building on campus.[5][20] Baker college is named in honor of Captain James A. Baker, friend and attorney of William Marsh Rice, and first chair of the Rice Board of Governors. He served as the Rice Institute's first chairman on the Board of Trustees from June 24, 1891, until his death in 1941. He is known for having helped unravel the conspiracy surrounding the millionaire's murder, securing the future of the university.

As part of the university's original housing unit for male students, a dormitory, library, and dining room were built on campus. The now-Baker commons served as the university's central dining hall for 43 years. East Hall, which contained dormitories and is now referred to as the "Old Wing" of Baker, was completed soon afterwards. These buildings remained virtually unchanged until the residential college system was instated in 1957. The neoclassical architecture of the former East Hall was joined by a new two-story brick-colored wing, the design of which was shared with equivalent new sections being constructed at Will Rice and Hanszen colleges, in preparation for becoming residential colleges. A house for Baker's Master was also added. Baker was thus established as one of the four original colleges at Rice in the fall of 1957.

In 1973, Baker and Hanszen became the first co-ed colleges at Rice. To include upperclass women, a lottery was held for Jones and Brown women to transfer into Baker. Baker's colors are traditionally red and silver, and the college associates itself with the devil and hell in its Beer Bike themes and college cheers.[21]

In 2009, construction began on a new residential wing. A portion of the former New Section was renovated and turned over to Lovett College. Baker's new wing is located between the Old Section and the Inner Loop road, and brought with it renovations to Baker's kitchen and the college coordinator's office.

Will Rice College

Will Rice College
Established 1957 (1957)
Namesake William Marsh Rice, Jr.
Masters Bridget Gorman, Mike Reed
President Eddie Reyes
Chief Justice Albert Wei
Membership 300
Colors Rust      Gold     
Location 6330 Main St., Houston, Texas, United States

William Marsh Rice Jr. College, commonly known as Will Rice, was originally called South Hall, one of the original dormitories the university built soon after opening in 1912.

In 1957, Rice adopted the residential college system, and South Hall became Will Rice College, named for William M. Rice, Jr., the nephew of the university's founder, William Marsh Rice.[22] The second-oldest of the eleven residential colleges at Rice, Will Rice was originally an all-male college and became co-ed in 1977.

Will Rice is architecturally almost identical to Baker and Hanszen colleges; all three possess a white-painted "Old Wing" and a brick colored "New Wing". Will Rice's new section possesses a tower that rises several stories above the rest of the college, a design feature reflected by Hanszen.

The symbol of Will Rice college is the Phoenix, depicted in maroon and gold colors. The college commonly refers to itself as the "college of gods and goddesses." The elected governing body of Will Rice is called the Diet and administers a university-sponsored and fee-augmented budget of approximately $40,000 which supports social, athletic, and other programs for Will Rice's nearly 300 resident and non-resident members.

Will Rice is traditionally a strong contender in the university's annual campus-wide Beer Bike competition among the residential colleges. Will Rice has held the longest winning streak on record in the alumni race (11 years from 1996 to 2006).[citation needed] Since the inclusion of an alumni race, Will Rice has been the only college to have won the men's, women's, and alumni races in a given year, called a "sweep," which it has done on four occasions — 1983, 1986, 1999, and 2009.[18] In addition, Will Rice holds the current track records for the men's, women's, and alumni races.[18]

Each year, in the spring, the 80s and 90s section of Will Rice secede and form "Albert Patrick College," named after the man convicted of masterminding the death of the university's founder.[citation needed]

In 2009, work began on a new wing for Will Rice college, colloquially referred to as "Newer Dorm." The new wing is located on the site of the former New Section, built in 1957; this building was torn down completely. A new servery, which is shared with Lovett, is part of the construction project. During the construction, the population of Will Rice lived in the residences of McMurtry college, which was founded that year, as a sort of older-brother example college.

Hanszen College

Hanszen College
Hanszen College logo.jpg
Established 1957
Namesake Harry Clay Hanszen
Masters Rob Griffin, Ann Griffin[23]
President Coco Owens
Chief Justice Tremayne Kaseman
Membership 320 (approximate)
Colors Royal Blue      Yellow     
Location 6350 Main St., Houston, Texas, USA
The new wing of Hanszen college

Harry Clay Hanszen College was named for a benefactor to the university and chairman of the Rice Board of Governors from 1946-1950.[24] The original building of Hanszen College was built in the neo-gothic style as a part of the original campus construction plan by Boston architectural firm Cram, Goodhue & Ferguson. A new housing wing was built in 1957 in conjunction with the development of the residential college system at Rice in response to the expanding undergraduate enrollment.[25]

Rice Radio, the University's student-run radio station, and the Rice Coffee Shop began at Hanszen College.[26][27] Hanszen was the first residential college at Rice to use its own crest. Shortly after the founding of the residential college system, the students created the blue, black, and yellow crest that in time became the symbol of the college, setting a precedent for the other colleges.[28]

Hanszen often hosts guest lecturers; recent visitors include College World Series champion Coach Wayne Graham, former Rice president and renowned economist S. Malcolm Gillis, and director of the Houston Area Survey Stephen Kleinberg.[citation needed] University courses recently offered by Hanszen College have included Analytics in Sports, Spirituality in Film, and The Culture of Philanthropy.[29]

Hanszen College is administered by the Cabinet, a body consisting of the Executive Board and Class Representatives elected by members of the college on an annual basis. The Cabinet supervises an annual budget of nearly $60,000, regulates the use of public spaces within the college, and serves as an official liaison between the College membership and the university administration.[citation needed]

Wiess College

Wiess College
HRWiess Crest.jpg
Established 1957 (original building constructed 1949)
Namesake Harry Carothers Wiess
Masters Alex Byrd, Jeanette Byrd
President Charlie Dai
Chief Justice Matthew Bonem
Membership 305 (approximate)
Colors Goldenrod      Black     
Location 6340 Main St., Houston, Texas, USA
The commons at Wiess College

Harry Carothers Wiess College (pronounced /ˈwaɪs/) was one of the original four colleges created when the residential college system was implemented in 1957. In 2002, Wiess became the only college at Rice to relocate from one building to another. Wiess is currently the southwesternmost residential college, located adjacent to Hanszen and the South Power Plant. Male and female members of Wiess College are known equally as Wiessmen.

Wiess College is named for Harry Carothers Wiess (1887–1948), one of the founders and one-time president of Humble Oil, now ExxonMobil. He was elected as a life member of the Board of Trustees of Rice University in 1944 and appointed vice-chairman in 1946. He left money for the construction of a new dorm after his death in 1948.[30][31]

Wiess Hall was completed in 1949, but carried the name "North Hall" until its dedication in March 1950.[31] It was laid out as an E-shaped building, with three north-south wings, joined on the north ends by a long east-west spine, forming two open quadrangles. The building was two stories high except for the three-story center wing. The hall was designed to house about 200 students in 20 single and 90 double rooms. Each room at Wiess opened directly to an exterior walkway that wrapped around the entire building. This design incorporated two features that were innovative at the time: every room had a semi-private bathroom and every room (except room 228, which was reserved for freshmen) had windows on at least two sides—an important adaptation in the years before air conditioning.[32]

Wiess Hall became Wiess College in 1957. Converting the dormitory into a college included the creation of two Resident Associate suites, construction of Wiess House, the home of the Master and family, and construction of the Wiess Commons (designed by Wiess undergraduate architecture students Tim "Frog" Barry and Dan Canty for a class project[citation needed]), the eating hall and round-the-clock gathering space for college members.[33][original research?][30]

Because of Wiess's outward-facing architecture, life at Wiess centered on the outdoors. The two quadrangles developed distinct characters. The quad between the center and west wings became known as the "Acabowl" and was the center of the college's social and recreational activity.[citation needed] At various times students installed a trampoline ("Aca-tramp") or above-ground pool ("Aca-pool"). The other quadrangle, between the center and east wings, was known by analogy as the "Backabowl" and tended to be used for quieter activities, such as sunbathing.[34]

The original residential building suffered from rapid deterioration in the 1990s.[citation needed] In 2002, the university opened a new building for the college, located south of the original building. New Wiess encloses a single large quadrangle, which retains the "Acabowl" name. The new building also preserved what Wiessmen considered a salient feature of the old: the fact that all rooms at Wiess open directly onto exterior walkways or balconies.[35] A glass-walled commons forms the north side of the Acabowl, with three four-story residence wings forming the other sides. The portion of the Acabowl immediately adjacent to the commons is known as the Acaterrace. The original Wiess Hall and its adjoining commons were razed during the winter break between Fall 2002 and Spring 2003.

Wiess considers itself to have an intense community spirit,[34][35] signified by the slogan and cheer "Team Wiess", which has been used consistently since the 1970s.[36]

Aspects of Wiess life include family-style dining and freshman waiting, Tabletop Theater, the Ubangee, pumpkin caroling, Night of Decadence, Hello, Hamlet!, the Pace Mannion fan club, the turning of the statue of university founder William Marsh Rice, and the War Pig.[35][37]

One of the most influential persons in Wiess history was electrical engineering professor Bill Wilson, who served as resident associate from 1978 to 2006 and as interim Master in 1982-83, which was also the year in which Wiess became a co-ed college.[citation needed] Wilson, known to generations of students as Dr. Bill, was a fixture of Rice's college system and the keeper of many Wiess traditions. In addition to his many teaching awards, he is the only person to have won the Student Association's Mentor Recognition Award twice. After his unexpected death in January 2009, his memorial service was held at the Wiess commons.[38][39][40][41] In December 2009, the Rice board of Trustees, with the consent of Wiess College, decided that the new Masters' residence at Wiess will be named Wilson House, in honor of Dr. Bill.[42] Dedicated on March 11, 2011, Wilson House is the first building at Rice named after a college Master or Resident Associate, and the first Masters' residence to bear a name distinct from that of its associated college.

Notable Wiessmen include Walter Loewenstern (1958),[43] Ken Oshman (1962), George Greanias (1970),[44] Harold Solomon, Tom Carter, Mark Dankberg (1976), Matthew Bonem (2013) and Ricky Pierce (1982).

Jones College

Jones College
Jones College garland logo.png
Established 1957
Namesake Mary Gibbs Jones
Masters Michel Achard, Melanie Achard
President Steven Boswell
Chief Justice Chance Marshall
Membership 325 (approximate)
Colors Light Blue      Green      Purple     
Location 23 Sunset Blvd., Houston, Texas, USA

Mary Gibbs Jones College, built as the first women's dormitory at Rice University, is named after Mary Gibbs Jones, wife of prominent Houston philanthropist Jesse Holman Jones. Jesse H. Jones supported its initial construction with a $1 million donation.[45]

The college was built in 1957, consisting of two four-story structures named "North" and "South." It was designed by architects Lloyd & Morgan. Not only was it the first housing for women on campus, it was also the first building designed specifically as a residential college and also the first building to be centrally air-conditioned. Lloyd & Morgan used pink marble in the construction of Jones College to indicate its status as housing for female students.[25] In 2002, an additional four-story building, "Central," was built in between North and South.[46] The new building connects to both original buildings at every level except the ground floor (a short walk separates South and Central). The wing was designed by noted post-modern architect Michael Graves.

In the early days, the culture of the all-female Jones College was quite conservative.[5] At meals, each table had a hostess, and dinner was served family style. Strict rules were enforced by house mothers when men from the south colleges visited the female students. The students even had to abide by a strict curfew - 11 p.m. on weekdays and 2 a.m. on weekends.[citation needed]

In the 1970s, Jones began phasing out many of the strictest rules, and in the fall of 1980 Jones became co-ed.[citation needed] Male students from the south colleges were given the chance to apply for transfer to Jones. Lovett, another Rice residential college, went co-ed the same year, so many of the new Jones residents were former Lovett residents. Jones women who disagreed with the decision to go co-ed were allowed to transfer to Brown College, which remained all-female until 1987. In 2001, construction began on the new Jones Commons and Jones Central. The new Jones Commons opened for use in March 2002.[citation needed] Jones Central opened in August 2002. During the same time, Jones lost its parking lot to the newly constructed Martel.

Jones' student government is set up as a Cabinet comprising the Executive Officers, elected representatives from each floor, and one elected off-campus representative.[47] The Cabinet meets bi-weekly, and by tradition Cabinet meetings are preceded by a study break.[citation needed]

Jones is a college with an indoor setup which has a kitchen and two lounges on every floor. Jones is unique among the colleges due to its large number of singles. Jones also has 4 4-single suites and 2 6-single suites, along with doubles and freshman corner doubles.

Notable alumni from Jones include George P. Bush and current Mayor of Houston Annise Parker.

Brown College

Brown College
Brown College logo.jpg
Established 1965
Namesake Margaret Root Brown
Masters Steve Cox, Laura Cox
President Joey Spinella
Chief Justice John Lloyd
Membership 353
Colors Maroon      Gold     
Location 9 Sunset Blvd., Houston, Texas, USA
The new Brown College commons

Margaret Root Brown College is currently the third largest of the eleven residential colleges at Rice, behind both McMurtry College and Duncan College are larger now that they are fully populated since fall of 2010. Founded in 1965 as an all-women's college, Brown became co-ed in 1987.

The history of Brown dates back to the early sixties, when Jones College was the only all women's college on campus.[48] This caused such a severe housing shortage that some Rice women were housed in the dorms of nearby Texas Women's University. Through the generous $1 million donation of George R. Brown and his wife Alice Pratt Brown, a new women's residential college was established in the memory of their sister-in-law, Margarett Root Brown. Up until her death in 1985, Alice Pratt Brown was an active patron of the college, giving the college much of the furniture and art in the first floor lobbies and private dining room.

The old wing of Brown College

In the beginning, Brown College was filled primarily with women who had volunteered to leave Jones in order to start a new college. Brown had a housemother who lived in the resident associate’s apartment and required all women to check in and out of the building at night and on weekends. The first Master of Brown was Frank Vandiver, who later became president of Texas A&M. In 1966 he resigned from Brown because of a “scandal” – the members of Brown voted to drink alcohol in their own rooms (provided they were of legal drinking age). Vandiver resigned because he considered it inappropriate behavior for young ladies.[48]

Brown was the last single-sex female college after Jones went co-ed in 1980. Male members were accepted into Brown in 1987.[48] However, the community bathrooms on all floors remained coed[dubious ] until 1994, when the bathrooms were remodeled and separate facilities for men and women were built on each floor. The new 4-story wing at Brown opened in 2002.[46] The new wing houses 56 additional students, making Brown the largest residential college on campus (it was previously the smallest) until the opening of McMurtry and Duncan. Unlike the tower, which consists of double and single rooms with community bathrooms, the new wing is made up of four-person suites. Each suite has four small single rooms, a large common room, and a private bathroom.[48]

Lovett College

Lovett College
Lovett College shield.png
Established 1968
Namesake Edgar Odell Lovett
Masters Matteo Pasquali, Marie-Nathalie Contou-Carrere


President Bri Bennet [50]
Chief Justice Enrique Vasquez
Membership 375 (approximate)
Colors Navy Blue      Yellow     
Location 6310 Main St., Houston, Texas, USA
The residential building of Lovett College

Edgar Odell Lovett College is the seventh-founded residential college, named after the university's first president.[25][51] Lovett opened in 1969 as an all-male college, becoming co-ed in 1980 when members of the college exchanged places with the female members of Jones College.[citation needed] Its first class mostly comprised volunteers from other colleges. Lovett sponsors numerous community and social events throughout the year, including theater productions and the Lovett Undergraduate Research Symposium. Lovett's college crest is interestingly based upon the Lovat family crest,[52][original research?] who are not related to Edgar Odell Lovett.

Lovett College during construction

The distinctive brutalist architecture of Lovett has led many to compare it to a giant toaster.[53] This is due to the concrete grating that surrounds the third, fourth, and fifth floors, a design feature intended to make Lovett riot-proof in reaction to the student riots of the late 1960s, most notably the Abbie Hoffman riot of 1967.[citation needed] Other riot-proofing features include the limited reach of the elevator, which does not reach the sixth floor, to prevent students from throwing furniture off of the only exposed higher floor.

"The grating" now protects Lovett students from hurricanes; in fall of 2005 Lovett students were among the only Rice students allowed to stay in their rooms during Hurricane Rita and Hurricane Ike.[citation needed] As a tongue-in-cheek homage to Communism and the purported Soviet architecture of the college, the men of the founding class named their college government the Central Committee.[citation needed] The main body of the crest was taken from the Clan Fraser of Lovat and modified by adding a stag to each side.[citation needed]

Lovett is made up of four buildings: a six-story residential building, an additional two-story residential building (known as Stinky Leebron or the E-Z Bake Oven), which was acquired from Baker in fall of 2010, a single-story commons, and the Masters' house.[citation needed] All of these buildings are structurally connected but have separate entrances and spaces. The majority of the rooms in the residential building are two-person suites, connected in pairs by a shared bathroom. Lovett House is a full two-story home in which the masters reside. The masters often host dessert at their house for special occasions, as well as private Central Committee meetings. The Lovett basement contains a number of facilities for use by the college members, as well as storage space for the various committees. The basement has a game room with various gaming tables, a movie room with couches and a projector, a kitchen, computer room, music room, weight room, and other spaces. The Wiener Hole is Lovett's public study space. It contains the Lovett test file, which contains records of previous tests in various classes. Lyle's, named for former Lovett resident associate Lyle Angene and also known as the Lovett Undergrounds, is a combination bar and performance space located in Lovett's basement. Lyle's is equipped with a sound system, stage, and lights, as well as bar equipment, including a kegerator. Seating for more than two hundred people can be moved into the space for performances. Lovett Theater and various Rice-wide performance groups, such as the Rice Philharmonics and Spontaneous Combustion, often use Lyle's for their performances; it also often acts as a space for smaller private parties.

In 2009, work began on renovating a portion of Baker College's former New Section, which was transferred over to become Lovett's New Section starting the in 2010 fall semester.[54] A new servery, shared with Will Rice College, is currently being built as part of the construction project.

Notable alumni include José Cruz, Jr.,[55] John Doerr,[56] Brock Wagner, John Kline, Ann Saterbak, Alberto Gonzales,[57] and Matt Anderson.[58] Nobel Laureate Robert Curl was the first college Master, and George H.W. Bush served as a community associate.[59][60]

Sid Richardson College

Sid Richardson College
Sid Richardson tiny logo.gif
Established 1971
Namesake Sid W. Richardson
Masters Dale Sawyer, Elise Sawyer
President Mia Velasquez[50]
Chief Justice Adrianne Waddell
Membership 310 (approximate)
Colors Black      Red      Gold     
Location 6360 Main Street,

Houston, Texas, USA

The southern side of the Sid Rich tower

Sid Richardson College (also referred to as Sid, SRC, Sid Rich, or Richardson College) opened in 1971 as a men's residential college. Like the other residential colleges on the Rice campus, Sid Richardson College provides undergraduate residential and dining facilities, social organizations and student government, as well as faculty, alumni, and community associates. A $2 million pledge from the Sid Richardson Foundation, which was established by Texas oilman, cattleman, and philanthropist Sid W. Richardson (1891–1959), funded the construction of the college. The college became co-ed in 1987.

Sid Richardson College is the tallest building on the Rice campus. It has seven floors, each of which is split into an upper and lower level, effectively giving the building fourteen stories. Unusual among Rice buildings, the 153 feet (47 m) high-rise was a response to a shortage of University land and was designed by the architectural firm Neuhaus and Taylor.[61] Sid Rich has enough beds to accommodate 220 students.[5] Original plans called for the eventual construction of a second tower, but the plan was never followed through.[25] In similar fashion to Lovett, the Sid Masters' house is connected to the residential tower; it comprises the first floor of the tower, while the mezzanine of the residential building is actually the second floor of the tower.[62] The first floor of Richardson College features a commons, a private dining room, and an "off-campus" lounge. The lounge consists of a pool table, two television sets, and a Nintendo 64. In between the commons and the "off-campus" lounge are 16 cubbies. It has become a popular pastime for Sidizens to attempt to fit inside the said cubbies.

Although Richardson College is not built around a quad, there is a similar outdoor feature of the college known as the "country club." The country club consists of a field, volleyball court, tether ball, hammocks, and an adult-sized swing set.

A banner hung from Sid during a game against the Aggies

In addition to providing basic residential and social services to its residents, Richardson College is rich with traditions, which have included some notorious pranks. For example, Richardson students have made use of the six balconies towering above the main entrance of the college to "douche" unsuspecting visitors—including past Rice University president George Rupp and his wife—with buckets of water as they climb the steps to the double doors. While such "free-flowing water" is the only sanctioned projectile, rogue students have also flung flour tortillas and, in one particularly infamous situation, a couch.[63]

Another prank that is quickly becoming a tradition is the Orc Raid. Sidizens dress up by smearing themselves with black paint, wearing black clothes and carrying around torches with doll heads. They then proceed to run around campus at night to terrorize the other colleges and crash events.

Other unique pastimes include Balcony Ball, Vatoring, and Death Ball. Every Friday afternoon from 3:00-6:00pm, the college's main speakers, affectionately known as the "stacks," blast music in what is known as "Radio Free Sid" (the named derived from Radio Free Europe of the Cold War era) across the campus from the 7th floor balcony. Radio Free Sid begins and ends each roughly 3-hour-long set of music with AC/DC's "Back in Black," widely considered to be the college's theme song.[64][65]

Sid Richardson has also hosted the last five Houston Conferences on Theoretical Neuroscience (starting in 2004), thanks to a relationship between the GCC and former Sid Richardson Master Steve Cox.[66]

Martel College

Martel College
Martel College logo.jpg
Established 2002
Namesake Marian and Speros P. Martel
Masters Beata Loch, Ted Temzelides
President Amy Buxbaum
Chief Justice A.J. Jolly
Membership 350 (approximate)
Colors Azure (sky blue)      Argent (white)      Maroon     
Location 99 Sunset Blvd., Houston, Texas, USA
Martel's sally port
The rotunda, with the sundeck
The cathedral-like Commons
The infamous "Beer Goat" keg holder

Marian and Speros P. Martel College is the ninth-founded residential college. It was established with a $15 million donation from the eponymous Marian and Speros Martel Foundation, a longtime benefactor of Rice University. The college's building was designed by noted architect Michael Graves and housed its first students during the 2002-2003 school year.[67][68] Martel is one of eleven residential colleges at Rice University; it is located adjacent to Jones and Duncan colleges on the north side of campus, sharing the North Servery with the former. The college prides itself on its adopted Greek heritage, a tribute to its benefactors' country of origin. Aspects of Greek culture are incorporated into a number of college events. The second and fourth quadrants of Martel's crest represent the cross and stripes of the Greek flag, while the other two are reserved for the Athenan owl, a symbol of wisdom taken from the University's academic seal, and the "MC" glyph representing the college's name. The crest was designed by the building's architect.[citation needed] The Martel College colors are representative of the Greek flag and the building's architecture. The blazon of the Greek flag is "Azure, four bars Argent; on a canton of the field a Greek cross throughout of the second." While azure often associates with a deeper blue, Martel College uses a lighter tincture of azure known as bleu celeste or "sky blue." Also, the argent used by the College favors a bright, reflective white instead of the more silvery tincture. Maroon represents the building's brick and paint scheme. Members of Martel College are known as "Martelians."

As the third-most-recently founded college, Martel's history is short, and commonly includes the story of Speros Martel, the Greek immigrant whose estate provided the funding necessary to build the college.[69] The official groundbreaking of the new Martel College took place on April 10, 2000. Among those attending were the newly instated Martel Masters Joan and Arthur Few, who had previously been Masters at Baker College from 1994 to 1999.

The first new students accepted as members of Martel were required to live off campus during the fall 2001 semester until the completion of the College's construction, which was scheduled for early 2002. However, in June 2001, Tropical Storm Allison struck the Houston area and delayed this by two months.[citation needed] Applications for freshman transfers were made available in October 2002. Sixty-three freshman were accepted, five each from Brown and Jones Colleges, and up to 12 from each of the other colleges. Martel members named physics instructor Gary Morris and intramural sports director Tina Villard as Martel's first resident associates.[70][original research?]

Martel's student government is named the Parliament, and meets weekly in the college commons. Elected officials include President, Vice President, Prime Minister, Treasurer, Secretary, Chief Justice, and Class Representatives (4 per class).

Michael Graves, architect of Martel College, designed the four-story, 134,000-square-foot (12,400 m2) building.[71] Formed around a central quadrangle, Graves’s design follows the style of the 1910 general plan of Boston architect Ralph Adams Cram for the Rice campus. Martel was erected on the parking lot that formerly served the adjacent Jones College. Martel is an open, four-sided shape. Each side of the shape forms a wing of the college. The wings terminate on the side closest to North Servery in a five-story rotunda, a spiral staircase enclosed within a stack of rounded floors, providing the college with its sundeck, where many events are held. The easternmost wing contains common areas, the game room, a kitchen, and the TV room. The rotunda leads into the Commons, a cathedral-like room with a high ceiling that serves as a cafeteria, meeting room, and auditorium, among other functions.[46] The college also includes two apartments for Martel's resident associates, a faculty apartment for visiting professors, and a neighboring house for the College Masters and their family. Martel is also the only college to feature a sally port in its construction; newly matriculated students traditionally walk through it passing a torch between themselves as the final step to becoming new Martelians.

Alumni include Jason Colwick, 2009 NCAA pole vault champion.[72][73]

McMurtry College

McMurtry College

Mcmurtry crest.jpg
Established 2009
Namesake Burt and Deedee McMurtry
Masters Karim Al-Zand, Dereth Phillips
President Gilbert Hernandez
Chief Justice Matt Rohde
Membership 420 (approximate)
Colors Royal Purple      Silver     
Location 1605 Rice Blvd., Houston, Texas, USA

Burt and Deedee McMurtry College is the tenth college founded as part of Rice's residential college system.[74] McMurtry College was named after Burt and Deedee McMurtry, graduates of the Rice class of 1956.[75] Burt McMurtry was part of the student-faculty committee that evaluated the need for and eventually instituted the college system at Rice University, beginning in 1957 with the original five colleges. The College was conceived jointly with the adjacent Duncan College as part of Rice's Vision for the 2nd century, which includes plans to increase the size of the student body by 30%.[76] The College opened its doors on August 16, 2009.

Despite its status as a young college, McMurtry has already established its own unique culture. During the Spring 2009 Beer Bike, McMurtry was christened in the Thresher newspaper as the "Mongol College," as it had not been finished at the time yet it was involved in pranks during Willy Week, and it could not be pranked by any other college as McMurtry wasn't complete. This was due to O-Week coordinators and advisers and co-advisers of McMurtry (chosen a semester ahead) showing their spirit for the upcoming new college. McMurtry has been assuming much of this "Mongol" culture by referring to the round commons as "Yurt," a name that also references the fact that, due to construction delays due to Hurrican Ike, McMurtry was forced to use a tent as commons for weeks until the actual commons was completed. Due to its ties with Scottish culture, the Loch Ness Monster ("Nessy") is a popular candidate for McMurtry's mascot.

The building was designed by Hopkins Architects, a leading English firm specializing in sustainable architecture. It offers 324 beds for student housing. The college is constructed as a single, squared-off horseshoe-shaped wing surrounding a central quad, rising to a height of five stories, dwarfing the nearby Martel and Jones Colleges. The college has double and single rooms that open directly out onto interior hallways, in contrast to the exterior hallways at Martel and Wiess, which were previously the two most recently renovated colleges. Common showers are located around the stairwells at each "elbow" in the building, and fully functional pod bathrooms are located in each double bedroom. The first floor contains classrooms and the only circular commons on campus.

McMurtry College is across from Duncan Hall and the Inner Loop road. Duncan College is immediately north of it, connected to McMurtry by West Servery, which is parallel to Abercrombie Engineering Laboratory.

Duncan College

Duncan College

Duncan College FLAG.jpg
Established 2009
Namesake Anne and Charles Duncan, Jr.
Masters Marnie Hylton and Luis Duno-Gottberg
President Ruben Sandoval
Chief Justice Garrett Roland
Membership 400 (approximate)
Colors Forest Green      White      Gold     
Location 1601 Rice Blvd., Houston, Texas, USA

Anne and Charles Duncan College is the eleventh college founded as part of Rice's residential college system.[74] Duncan College was named after Anne and Charles Duncan, Jr., long-standing contributors to Rice University who donated money for the new college. The college was conceived jointly with the adjacent McMurtry College as part of Rice's Vision for the 2nd century, which includes plans to increase the size of the student body by 30%.[76] Duncan opened its doors on August 16, 2009, right in time for O-Week 2009, which saw the arrival of the first Duncan freshman class. Due to renovations in Baker College and in order to help the new college adapt to the university, Baker College students lived in Duncan with the first freshman class. This led to the joint name of "BaDunc" for sporting and other events. Duncan began to operate by itself beginning in fall 2010 with a new freshman class, a returning sophomore class, and upperclassmen consisting of students from other colleges who accepted invitations to transfer. The college's first Masters, Marnie Hylton and Luis Duno-Gottberg, have chosen to stay with Duncan for several more years, and the final constitution is going through its last stages before approval. It has also chosen its colors as forest green, white, and gold. It chose government officials, RAs, and a College Coordinator in the spring of 2010, and the crest was revealed during the fall 2010 semester at the dedication ceremony.

Due to the request and contribution of Anne and Charles Duncan, Duncan College is one of the "greenest" buildings on Rice campus, as well as the entire city of Houston. Like nearby McMurtry College, the five-story building was designed by Hopkins Architects of London and offers 324 beds for student housing. The building is the first gold-level Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) facility at Rice and the only LEED student residential-housing in the United States.[77] The facility is designed to retain water for irrigation purposes and has motion detector lights which will turn on or off according to the flow of people. The building will decrease energy consumption by up to 25% as well as cut back on water usage. Air conditioners power off when windows are opened.[78]

Going into its third year of existence, Duncan College has already begun to establish its own culture and traditions. Duncan is well known for its techno dance parties. Often after forum meetings, music will suddenly begin to play and students will spontaneously have a dance party. It also has its own techno theme song, originating from Baker and Duncan's "The Kids Want Techn-O-Week." Duncan College has also established a Monday night tradition, known as "Monday Night Lights." When a few students went down to play ping-pong one night, they noticed that the ping pong table they had played on actually belonged to Baker College, who took its table back. Instead of going to bed, they made a makeshift table in the quad out of extra tables and using toilet paper as the net. People noticed the table and came down to the quad join in, watch and even play acoustic instruments. Monday Night Lights is now a weekly event.

Architecturally, Duncan has the same features as McMurtry with minor differences emphasized in order to establish its uniqueness. For example, Duncan Commons is rectangular in shape, contrasting the round McMurtry Commons. Also, Duncan quad has different features from McMurtry, such as a fountain by the Commons, smaller trees, and walkways that go across the quad. The interior, however, is virtually the same, as both colleges contain mostly doubles in the hallways and single rooms in the corners, with doubles having a pod bathroom inside and singles sharing common bathrooms. Both also have green roofs and fifth floor doubles and suites that open to the outside. The interior hallways of both Duncan and McMurtry were designed as contrasts to the other two most recently built residential colleges, Martel and Wiess, which have exterior hallways.


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