Gift from Houston couple launches fundraising for new home for Rice’s Continuing Studies

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Gift from Houston couple launches fundraising for new home for Rice’s Continuing Studies
Susanne M. Glasscock School of Continuing Studies to expand, serve more Houstonians

Rice University unveiled the site of the new building for the Susanne M. Glasscock School of Continuing Studies last week and also announced a significant Centennial Campaign gift from the school’s namesake. Including the gift from Houstonians Susanne and Melbern Glasscock and other gifts and pledges, the school has raised nearly $9.5 million for the $24 million facility.

About 100 Rice and Glasscock School alumni and community leaders, including City Councilmember Oliver Pennington ’60, attended the ceremony at the building site on what is now a parking lot between Rice Stadium and campus Entrance 8 at University Boulevard and Stockton Drive.

“Susie and Mel’s dedication continues to contribute to the quality of this university and our engagement with the city beyond measure. Words cannot express the appreciation we have for their support,” said Rice President David Leebron. “The Glasscock School helps Rice University expand our visibility and service to one of our most important constituents: the city of Houston.”

Located on the south side of campus, the new building will allow the Glasscock School to expand the size and scope of its personal and professional development programs. Enrollment is expected to increase from 12,000 a year to 15,000, and e-learning and daytime programs will be added.

Thousands of Houstonians attend classes at the Glasscock School each year, less than 10 percent of them Rice alumni. In addition, more than 4,000 college-preparatory teachers from all over the country attend its professional development courses and the English as a Second Language program has attracted students from more than 100 countries over the past 10 years.

“In our vision for the future, we see a Glasscock School at the center of Rice’s efforts to engage the broader Houston community,” said Mary McIntire, dean of Continuing Studies. “As the oldest and possibly best-known educational outreach of the university, the school has a nearly 45-year-old place in the shared lives of Rice and Houston.”

The three-story, 51,000-square-foot facility will include 24 classrooms, conference rooms, a language center, an auditorium and a commons area and terrace for events. McIntire said it will be completely funded by philanthropic gifts and noted that 100 percent of the school’s administrative staff have contributed a total of $65,000 to the new building fund. ”That’s how committed we are to our mission and this facility,” she said.

“You’ve heard a lot of the word ‘Houston’ when talking about the school — they’re simply not separable,” Susanne Glasscock said. “This new building is a community effort, just as it’s a community building. … This building isn’t just about Continuing Studies and all its programs. This is a building where Rice University can greet, involve, engage and maybe even entertain our neighbors, the city of Houston and the world.”

For many of its programs, the school collaborates with organizations such as the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; the Houston Museum of Natural Science; the Greater Houston Preservation Alliance; the Writers’ League of Texas; the Association of Fundraising Professionals Greater Houston Chapter; and HR Houston. 

The Glasscock School offers noncredit programs in personal development, professional development, teacher professional development and languages. A degree program, the Master of Liberal Studies, has grown into the second-largest master’s program at Rice.

“You can go to Rice University by participating in its School of Continuing Studies … all that’s required is a love of and desire for knowledge,” Mel Glasscock said. “All you have to do is enroll in the school. And I’m happy to report that Susie and I at this moment are enrolled at Rice University.”

The Glasscocks have been regular Continuing Studies students for about 30 years. In 2006, the School of Continuing Studies at Rice was officially renamed the Susanne M. Glasscock School of Continuing Studies in honor of an endowment gift — believed to be the largest endowment ever for a U.S. university continuing education program — from the Glasscocks.

Susanne Glasscock earned her bachelor’s degree in economics from Rice in 1962 and currently serves on the Rice Board of Trustees. She is the co-chair of Rice’s Centennial Campaign, which is two-thirds of the way toward its $1 billion fundraising goal. Mel Glasscock earned a Bachelor of Science in mechanical engineering from Texas A&M University in 1959 and his master’s degree in mechanical engineering at Rice in 1961.

The new building will be built to the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design standards. Construction will begin when the fundraising has been completed.

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