Glasscock School’s Fall Preview allows Houstonians to head back to school

Several hundred Houstonians filled the bright spaces of the D. Kent and Linda C. Anderson and Robert L.  and Jean T. Clarke Center Sept. 3 to take in the showcase of lifelong learning opportunities and attend brief preview lectures of upcoming courses in the Susanne M. Glasscock School of Continuing Studies’ new home.

Houston artist Ellen Orseck used her paintbrush to give attendees of the Glasscock School's Fall Preview an introduction to her upcoming Watercolor for All course. (Photos by Jeff Fitlow)

“This Fall Preview has drawn hundreds of newcomers to our campus,” said Dean of Continuing Studies Mary McIntire ’75. “It’s a perfect example of how our great new continuing studies space will be the magnet that unites Rice and our Houston community for the future.”

Among the courses being offered this fall are photography, history, foreign languages, philanthropy, childhood literacy and the intricacies of the college application process.

Jeanne Klein, a dental hygienist by training, has taken advantage of numerous Glasscock School offerings, in particular language courses. “Many years ago I started taking French,” Klein said. “I’ve also taken the paralegal continuing education course and art history courses. This new building is really nice; it’s going to be a big improvement over the temporary buildings that we’ve been working in.” Klein said she appreciates the school’s daytime courses. “I live fairly close, so it’s very convenient,” she said.

Walt Hoffmann, a retired librarian and frequent student in Glasscock School courses, was also impressed by the Anderson-Clarke Center and new course offerings. “I like history, philosophy and anthropology,” Hoffmann said. “I’ve been retired for almost five years now. I go to the gym almost every day, but I also need to stimulate my brain. Just being on the Rice campus, I also feel more relaxed.”

Glasscock School courses are often taught by distinguished Rice faculty members, who enjoy the opportunity to connect with the school’s lifelong learners.

Debra Dickinson, an artist teacher of opera at Rice’s Shepherd School of Music and veteran Glasscock School lecturer, is teaching a course on Harold Prince’s Broadway Reign this fall. Using video and audio clips, her course will examine in detail the blockbuster shows such as “West Side Story” and “Fiddler on the Roof” that the 21-time Tony Award-winner Prince produced and directed as well as the famous artists with whom he associated. “When I teach undergraduates, when I talk about the ‘good ol’ days,’ they have no idea of what I’m talking about,” Dickinson said of her appreciation for her Glasscock School students. “Here, the students know my topic, they love it and they want to learn more. I don’t have to explain to them who (Broadway star) Mary Martin was. They come with all of this experience.”

Glasscock School lecturer Martine Jehan, left, shared a laugh with attendees of her French language course preview.

Jeffrey Kripal, the J. Newton Rayzor Professor of Religion, who will give a course on A Brief History of the Soul, said he appreciates “existential depth” that he encounters when teaching at the Glasscock School. “I most enjoy engaging adults who have lived a lot of life and asked many questions of religion, questions which they are now willing to voice and entertain,” Kripal said. “Rice undergrads, like all teenagers or very young adults, generally think that they are immortal. Glasscock students generally know that they are not. And that makes all the difference when asking classic religious questions. That’s a bit of an overstatement and generalization, but not much of one.”

Tibetan Sound Healing Meditation will be the topic of Rice alumnus Alejandro Chaoul’s course. Chaoul ’06 is an assistant professor and director of education for the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center’s Integrative Medicine Program and has taught in the Glasscock School for a decade. Participants will learn about the practices that bring together the mind and its energy, supported by simple yet powerful ancient Tibetan vocalized sounds that work with different energetic centers, or chakras, to provide a sense of meditation, Chaoul said. “One of the first steps is to be in the moment,” he said of meditation’s focus on being fully present and the related wide-ranging benefits. “We can be deeper in our relationships, we can be deeper in our work and we can actually be more efficient.”

To learn more about the Glasscock School’s course offerings, visit

About Jeff Falk

Jeff Falk is director of national media relations in Rice University's Office of Public Affairs.