Rice to open its doors for UnConvention April 12-14

David Ruth

Rice to open its doors for UnConvention April 12-14
Open house features family friendly events, tours, research demonstrations and more

HOUSTON – (April 5, 2012) – As part of its centennial year celebration, Rice University will open its campus up to all Houstonians April 12-14 for the UnConvention, 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. 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.”

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 www.unconvention.rice.edu. Most are free, and the descriptions on the 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.

Media who want to learn more about the UnConvention, interview Courtney or set up live shots should contact David Ruth at david@rice.edu or 713-348-6327.

A sample of the many activities at the UnConvention:

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.

Thursday, April 12, 6 p.m. at the Baker Institute, Caltech biologists David Baltimore and Alice Huang will be the featured speakers at the 2012 Civic Scientist Lecture. Baltimore and Huang will discuss their roles as scientists beyond the laboratory and classroom. Their lecture will highlight the role scientists play in helping improve the public’s and policymakers’ understanding of science, as well as the role science in helping to improve international relations.

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, the conclusion of the Asian Film Festival, a performance of “Shakespeare’s Will,” art exhibits and a Campanile Orchestra concert.


Located on a 300-acre forested campus in Houston, Rice University is consistently ranked among the nation’s top 20 universities by U.S. News & World Report. Rice has highly respected schools of Architecture, Business, Continuing Studies, Engineering, Humanities, Music, Natural Sciences and Social Sciences and is known for its “unconventional wisdom.” With 3,708 undergraduates and 2,374 graduate students, Rice’s undergraduate student-to-faculty ratio is 6-to-1. Its residential college system builds close-knit communities and lifelong friendships, just one reason why Rice has been ranked No. 1 for best quality of life multiple times by the Princeton Review and No. 4 for “best value” among private universities by Kiplinger’s Personal Finance. To read “What they’re saying about Rice,” go to www.rice.edu/nationalmedia/Rice.pdf.

About David Ruth

David Ruth is director of national media relations in Rice University's Office of Public Affairs.