Rice Day features service and celebration

Events include Habitat for Humanity construction projects, campus-wide picnic

BY AMY HODGES

Rice News staff

Rice University kicked off the yearlong countdown to its Centennial Celebration with the semiannual Town Hall meeting Wednesday morning, but the activities marking Rice Day, the annual Oct. 12 celebration of the university’s founding, didn’t stop there.

As part of the ongoing Centennial Celebration, the Rice chapter of Habitat for Humanity is partnering with the Houston Habitat chapter to build a commemorative home in honor of Rice’s centennial. Members of the Rice chapter set up shop in the grassy space adjacent to Rice Memorial Center and could be seen and heard all afternoon hammering away as they constructed walls for local Habitat houses.

Tawfik Jarjour, a McMurtry College senior and director of the Rice Centennial House Project, said he hoped their efforts would draw attention to the project.

“We wanted to have a chance to tell the Rice community about the project, and what better way than to have construction efforts taking place here on campus?” Jarjour said. ”People are asking questions, and we hope they’ll get involved, either through building or fundraising,”

According to Jarjour, Rice students have designed and constructed homes for Habitat three different times — in 1997, 2000 and 2001 — and are excited for the opportunity to do it once again.

The day’s building projects drew a wide range of participants, including Rice Provost George McLendon, a longtime supporter of Habitat for Humanity.

“I’ve been working with Habitat for over 20 years,” McLendon said. “I’m so glad Rice is doing this. It’s just one great way we can do something for the community, and the chance for me to work with these students is terrific.”

Later in the day, the campus community came together for a picnic featuring turkey legs, sausage on a stick, green beans, cornbread pancakes, sweet potatoes, soft pretzels, assorted drinks and a variety of pies for dessert. Undergraduates and grad students sported custom T-shirts designed by Public Affairs especially for the day’s events. In addition, Rice community members had the opportunity to contribute to the Centennial Story Project, which had a booth set up in front of Lovett Hall.

Ginny Johnson, a Martel College junior and member of the Centennial Student Involvement Committee, said it was great to see a large turnout from the Rice community at the event.

“We wanted to raise awareness and celebrate the yearlong countdown to the centennial, and it’s great to see everyone to come out and celebrate what a wonderful place that Rice is,” Johnson said.

Sumedh Warudkar, president of Rice’s Graduate Student Association, said it’s an exciting time to be a student at Rice.

“We’re seeing a lot of excitement and positive developments on the campus,” Warudkar said. “It’s probably going to be the biggest celebration Rice has ever seen, and it’s just a fun and great time to be a student here.”

Enthusiasm and anticipation for the centennial are apparent in Rice students and alums alike, including Greg Marshall ’86, a Baker College alum and director of university relations in the Office of Public Affairs.

“Rice changed my life,” Marshall said. “To be here at this moment in history for this institution that’s meant so much to so many people, including me, is the opportunity of a lifetime. There’s no part of my life that wouldn’t be the way it is if I hadn’t been involved with Rice.”

For more information on Rice’s Centennial Celebration, visit http://centennial.rice.edu/home.

About Rice News Staff

The Rice News is produced weekly by the Office of Public Affairs at Rice University.