UnConvention: Calling all Houstonians

When Houstonians visit the Rice University campus April 12-14 for the UnConvention, they’ll be treated to the most unconventional open house in Rice’s history.

From a display of inventions by student engineers and an Asian Film Festival, to Shepherd School of Music concerts and a lecture about the role of civic scientists, the UnConvention will give campus visitors several days of many ways to educate and entertain themselves.

“In honor of Rice’s centennial year, we’re opening our doors and hedges to the people of Houston so they can experience firsthand the unconventional wisdom that has become the motto of our university,” said Linda Thrane, vice president for public affairs. “We want to invite families and friends from throughout the city to help us celebrate our centennial through the more than 120 feats of derring-do that only a school as unconventional and wise as Rice can offer. We guarantee you’ll have fun, you’ll learn something you didn’t know before you got to campus and you’ll want to come back.”

Bill Courtney, Public Affairs’ director of marketing, was inspired to organize the UnConvention after reading yearbook and newspaper articles about Rice hosting its first engineering show in 1920. “The headline in the Houston Post read, ‘10,000 people see science marvels at Rice exhibit,’” Courtney said. “Nearly a century later, Rice has much more to marvel at, so we’re hoping for a tremendous turnout from the community.”

Courtney has arranged for billboard, radio and newspaper ads that invite Houstonians to campus, and Public Affairs is also using social media and the Web to spread the word.

Tours, lectures, research demonstrations, concerts, athletic events, theater and dance performances, art exhibits, competitions, films, activities for children and other events are on the UnConvention schedule posted at unconvention.rice.edu. A Guide to the UnConvention can be downloaded too. Most activities are free, and the descriptions on the UnConvention website will indicate those for which tickets must be purchased. Rice is providing free parking during the UnConvention.

Although the UnConvention is officially Thursday through Saturday, the festivities get an early start Wednesday night with student film, video and photography contests, Shepherd School recitals, a lecture on “Philosophy, Politics and Academic Freedom” and a student art exhibit.

A sample of the many other offerings:

Thursday, April 12, 12:30-2:15 p.m. in McMurtry Auditorium, Duncan Hall: Sociology Professor Stephen Klineberg, co-director of Rice’s Kinder Institute for Urban Research, will present “Interesting Times,” a new film about his 31 years of tracking the city’s economic and demographic changes via his annual Houston Area Survey.

Friday, April 13, noon-3 p.m. in Tudor Fieldhouse: The Rice Undergraduate Research Symposium will feature poster presentations and design projects by undergraduate students in a competition that is open to all disciplines at Rice, including humanities, social sciences, natural sciences, engineering, architecture and music.

Friday, April 13, 5-7 p.m. in Rice Gallery, Sewall Hall: An opening reception will be held for the site-specific installation Japanese artist Yasuaki Onishi created on commission from the Rice University Art Gallery.

Saturday, April 14, 9 a.m. to noon in Rice Memorial Center’s Grand Hall: Rice student and staff volunteers will prepare a pancake breakfast to benefit the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research.

Saturday, April 14, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. in the Activity Tent in the Central Quad: A “Children and Youth Zone” will enable kids of all ages to watch a science magic show and a traditional Chinese dragon dance, have fun with math, meet Sammy the Owl and engage in other activities.

Saturday, April 14, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on the third floor of the Space Science and Technology Building: The Smalley Institute for Nanoscale Science and Technology will offer lab tours where children can make their own buckyball model and visitors can see a replica of the 1996 Nobel Prize in chemistry won by Rice professors Robert Curl and the late Richard Smalley.

Saturday, April 14, 11-11:30 a.m. in the Central Quad next to Rice Memorial Center: A ceremonial tree will be planted as President David Leebron and Richard Johnson, co-chair of Rice’s Lynn R. Lowery Arboretum, discuss Rice’s designation as a Tree Campus USA.

Saturday, April 14, 1-4 p.m. in the Symonds Lab at Duncan Hall: A tour of the George R. Brown School of Engineering begins with an introductory video followed by self-guided walks to observe lab demonstrations in chemical and biomolecular engineering and computer science.

Saturday, April 14, 1-4 p.m. in the Kyle Morrow Room and Lovett Lounge on the third floor of Fondren Library: Fondren Library will host an open house that will feature arts and crafts for kids of all ages and a library treasure hunt.

As noted on the UnConvention website, several events are also scheduled for Sunday, including a men’s tennis match against UT-Arlington at 1 p.m. that will be Rice Coach Ron Smarr’s last home match before he retires, the conclusion of the Asian Film Festival at 5 p.m. at the Rice Media Center, a performance of “Shakespeare’s Will” featuring Rice Theatre Program Director Christina Keefe at 3 p.m. at Hamman Hall, art exhibits in the Rice Gallery (11 a.m.-5 p.m.) and Rice Media Center (noon-5 p.m.), and a Campanile Orchestra concert at 8 p.m. in Stude Concert Hall at Alice Pratt Brown Hall.

The UnConvention is made possible in part by a grant from the Mayor’s City Initiative Grant Program of the Houston Arts Alliance.

Rice employees and students who want to volunteer for the UnConvention can sign up at http://centennial.rice.edu/volunteer.aspx.

About Rice News Staff

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