President welcomes suggestions for his ‘walkabout’

President David Leebron is looking for ideas for a campus “walkabout” this semester. The plan is to schedule 100 activities or meetings that will help him understand the university more deeply as he begins his 10th year as president next summer.

At the Nov. 27 town hall meeting, Leebron announced that he will set aside five days in the first few months of the spring semester to visit 100 campus workplaces and activities. He followed up on that announcement with a letter to the Rice community in December.

“I believe that I have gotten to know Rice well since I arrived in 2004, but as I look forward to beginning my 10th year next summer, I would like to know our university even better,” Leebron said. “Thus during the remainder of this centennial academic year, one thing I want to do is to make some time for a campus ‘walkabout,’ and engage, even if briefly, with more and very different parts of our endeavor.

“This engagement will be much more meaningful if the vast majority of those hundred visits are the result of your ideas and suggestions. My hope is that we will include things that involve all parts of our community — faculty, staff and students — and everything from maintaining our grounds to engaging in cutting-edge research.”

Among the examples he mentioned were:

* Spending time at the Rice University Police Department dispatch station.

* Walking through Anderson Hall at midnight to observe architecture students at work.

* Attending a college cabinet meeting.

* Eating dinner with graduate students at the food trucks by Hamman Hall and the Mudd Building.

* Visiting the registrar’s office.

* Watching and learning as research is conducted in a lab.

* Sitting in on one of the new Program in Writing and Communication classes.

Dates that have tentatively been set aside for the walkabout are Jan. 15 and 24 and Feb. 1, 6 and 11 – all of which fall on different days of the week. For Leebron to accomplish his goal of 100 activities or visits, his “to do” list will need to include both short items of 10 to 15 minutes and longer activities of half an hour or more. The president wrote in his note to the Rice community that some suggestions might not be possible on those specific dates, but he is flexible in adding other times as well.

“I am open to any idea that will deepen my understanding of what all of you are accomplishing every day, and what will help assure Rice’s continuing success,” Leebron said.

Asked about the initial response to his note in mid-December, Leebron said he “was amazed by the quick and enthusiastic response. Within days at a time when many were away from the campus, we had about 75 suggestions from students, faculty and staff. People at Rice are rightfully proud of what they contribute to the university.”  The President’s Office is already scheduling about 50 of the visits, but is keeping open the last 50 to allow people to make additional suggestions early in the semester.

To submit a suggestion or invitation to Leebron, email him at



About B.J. Almond

B.J. Almond is senior director of news and media relations in Rice University's Office of Public Affairs.