Forum will celebrate 50 years of black undergraduate life at Rice University

Rice University
Office of Public Affairs / News & Media Relations


B.J. Almond

Forum will celebrate 50 years of black undergraduate life at Rice University

HOUSTON — (Feb. 15, 2016) – Rice University will celebrate 50 years of black undergraduate life with a public forum Feb. 18 featuring an alumni panel discussion of Rice in the 1960s and 1970s when the campus and Houston desegregated.

Titled “Reflections of the Past, Promises for the Future,” the forum will provide a historical account of Rice’s desegregation and firsthand perspectives on the early years of this transition.

Rice University and the Association of Rice University Black Alumni (ARUBA) welcome the general public to attend the program from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. in McNair Hall’s Shell Auditorium, 6100 Main St.

President David Leebron will present opening remarks. Centennial historian Melissa Kean and history professor emeritus Allen Matusow will discuss the administrative and legal process of desegregating Rice within its historical context. The original charter of the Rice Institute allowed only white students to attend. In 1963 a unanimous Rice Board of Governors filed a lawsuit to allow the school to modify its charter to admit students of all races. Two alumni sued to keep the original charter intact, but in 1966 a state appellate court upheld the modification of Rice’s charter.

A panel of four alumni who graduated in the ’70s will reminisce about Rice during that transitional period: Ronald Arceneaux (1974), Charles Szalkowski (1970), Regina Tippens 1974) and Jan West (1973). Harris County Commissioner Gene Locke will moderate the panel discussion.

The forum is part of a yearlong series of events commemorating 50 years of black undergraduate life at Rice. For more information, visit

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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 home to the Baker Institute for Public Policy. With 3,910 undergraduates and 2,809 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 is ranked No. 1 for best quality of life and for lots of race/class interaction by the Princeton Review. Rice is also rated as a best value among private universities by Kiplinger’s Personal Finance. To read “What they’re saying about Rice,” go to

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About B.J. Almond

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