Glasscock School’s Master of Liberal Studies program celebrates milestone

The start of the school year marked a milestone for the Susanne M. Glasscock School of Continuing Studies’ Master of Liberal Studies (MLS) program. On Sept. 11, nearly 100 current students and alumni of the popular program gathered at the school’s Anderson-Clarke Center to celebrate its 10th anniversary.

From left, Rice trustee emeritus Susie Glasscock, English Professor Dennis Huston, a frequent instructor in the Master of Liberal Studies program, and Glasscock School Dean Mary McIntire celebrated the program's 10th anniversary at a reception Sept. 11. Photo by Jeff Fitlow

Despite its youth, the program, which offers a part-time liberal arts degree, has already grown to appeal to a wide spectrum of students, with doctors, attorneys, homemakers and recent college graduates among its participants. It features engaging classes taught by Rice and visiting faculty that encourage intellectual discussions and allow students to explore the social sciences, humanities and natural sciences, according to MLS Program Director John Freeman, a professor emeritus of space physics and astronomy at Rice.

“It’s an opportunity for adults who are in some kind of a standard adult life to move out and do some more interesting things,” Freeman said of the program. “It’s really a kind of a new start for many folks.”

For program alumna Wanda Pan ‘09, a Houston oil and energy industry professional, her capstone research was a complete diversion from contemporary society and concerns. Her topic was “The Hours of Jeanne d’Evreux,” an illuminated prayer book in the Gothic style, which was created for an early 14th-century queen of France.

“I had no interest in medieval art before I took my first art history class from (Associate Professor of Art History) Linda Neagley,” Pan said. “During my course of studies, I fell completely in love with medieval art. The research took me to a fascinating world that actually taught me quite a bit about the Christian religion.”

Peggy Roe, a now-retired Houston fundraising executive who graduated from the program in 2013, said the degree appeals to people who are curious and eager to learn new things. Roe’s capstone was on fallen angels in the Bible, two ancient books and “Paradise Lost.”

“I just think that if you have a proclivity for learning and you want to do something exceptional to address that need in you, this is the place you should go,” she said.

“The Glasscock School is all about creating a community of learners,” said Glasscock School Dean Mary McIntire ‘75. “In many ways, the Master of Liberal Studies program epitomizes that goal. We have students who are in their 20s, we have students in their 70s and maybe even a little older. They come from all professions and some are retired. They all get together, and they learn from wonderful faculty.”

For more information about the MLS program, go to http://mls.rice.edu.

About Jeff Falk

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