Rice’s Glasscock School celebrates 50 years with ‘A Festival of Curiosity’

Free lectures, family activities, performances and more bring community to campus

More than 700 members of the Rice and Houston communities helped celebrate the Susanne M. Glasscock School of Continuing Studies’ 50 years of commitment to education outreach at “A Festival of Curiosity” April 8 at the school’s Anderson-Clarke Center.

The front lawn of the Glasscock School’s Anderson-Clarke Center was a bustle of activity April 8. Photos by Jeff Fitlow

The celebration gave guests a look at the Glasscock School’s personal and professional development programs that serve 20,000 students per year.

Outside on the Anderson-Clarke Center’s front lawn and plaza, individuals and families were able to enjoy a colorful array of hands-on activities, art and entertainment: a photo booth and collage wall; sidewalk chalk art by Houston Via Colori artists; local food trucks; kid-friendly activities that included making owl masks and acting out “Owl Babies”; a LEGO community build of the Rice University shield; and performances by the Rice Marching Owl Band (The MOB) and DJ Mycle.

Dozens of Glasscock School staff and volunteers wearing blue T-shirts with the hashtag “staycurious” imprinted on the back were on hand to answer questions about programming and events. The school offers numerous enriching courses each semester, including meditation, photography, project management, human resource education and more. “A Festival of Curiosity” featured three free lectures with some of the school’s most celebrated faculty and community experts.

In the school’s Hudspeth Auditorium, Dean Mary McIntire introduced the guest lecturers, including Peter Brown and Ashlyn Davis, who spoke on “The Evolution of Photography: Two Generations in Conversation.” Brown, an award-winning photographer and Glasscock School educator, and Davis, executive director of the Houston Center for Photography, engaged in a lively “conversation across generations.” They explored how the art of photography has evolved and what creative directions may be on the horizon in this field.

Rebecca Richards-Kortum spoke on “Rice 360°: Innovating and Educating for Global Health Impact.” It will be 150 years before a baby born in Africa has the same chance of survival as one born in North America, said Richards-Kortum, the Malcolm Gillis University Professor, director of Rice 360° Institute for Global Health, professor of bioengineering and of electrical and computer engineering and a recipient of the 2016 MacArthur Fellowship. She discussed an innovative project in Malawi, NEST (Neonatal Essential Solutions and Technologies), whose goal is reducing this time frame to 10 years. Her team seeks to prevent 85 percent of current neonatal deaths in that country and repeat these results around the world.

Finally, Debra Dickinson spoke on “The Creative Magic of ‘Hamilton: An American Musical.’” “Every action’s an act of creation,” proclaim the iconic lyrics from the musical “Hamilton.” Dickinson, teacher of opera studies at Rice’s Shepherd School of Music, former Broadway actress and artist, explored the creative decisions that have made “Hamilton” such an acclaimed and beloved musical.

A public art campus tour with Evan Garza, director of Rice Public Art, also took place.

In a Rice News video about the 50th anniversary and the school’s history, Rice President David Leebron spoke to the importance and impact of the school that opened in 1967. The Glasscock School and Rice’s identity are “inseparable,” Leebron said. “We’re proud to be in Houston, and we’re proud to serve the city of Houston and its thirst for knowledge and understanding at the Glasscock School,” he said.

The video also included comments from the school’s namesake, Rice alumna and trustee emerita Susanne M. Glasscock ’62, who echoed Leebron’s comments about the connection to the broader community. “To be able to offer professional development courses, to be able to offer language to non-English speakers, to be able to offer leadership training for nonprofit leaders, I could go on and on,” Glasscock said. “This school has been a center for Houston and the things that are important to Houston.”

To view the video, click here.

About Jeff Falk

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