Gorman named dean of undergraduates at Rice University

Professor Bridget Gorman, chair of the Department of Sociology at Rice University and a magister at one of Rice’s residential colleges, has been appointed dean of undergraduates.

She will succeed John Hutchinson when he steps down as dean at the end of the academic year, June 30.

Photo of Bridget Gorman

Bridget Gorman

“We are very pleased that Dr. Gorman will serve as our next dean of undergraduates,” said Provost Marie Lynn Miranda. “She brings experience as a leader in the School of Social Sciences, in university-level service, in the residential colleges as a magister and as a highly regarded scholar of how experiences shape outcomes for young people. Most importantly, she brings thoughtful consideration, quiet strength, deep compassion and a student-focused approach to this critical position.”

The dean of undergraduates is responsible for overseeing the undergraduate curriculum and academic advising as well as all non-curricular components of student life, including the residential colleges, mental and physical well-being, career services and extracurricular and social activities for Rice’s nearly 4,000 undergraduates.

“Engaging with undergraduates has been one of the consistent pleasures of my job,” Gorman said. “Rice students are not only smart — they are creative, productive and intellectually curious.”

She said the opportunity to serve as dean of undergraduates appealed to her because the dean “plays a key role in shaping student life at Rice, and more generally in promoting the success of the university. I hope to craft an environment that supports the academic success of students while also promoting their development and well-being in an array of related areas.”

President David Leebron said, “I am thrilled that Bridget Gorman has accepted the position of dean of undergraduates. I know from working with Bridget that she exemplifies commitment and excellence in every aspect of the Rice endeavor. She brings the judgment, experience and enthusiasm we need as we navigate the evolving undergraduate experience and seek to implement the goals of our new strategic plan, the Vision for the Second Century, Second Decade (V2C2).”

Since joining the Rice faculty in 2002 as an assistant professor of sociology, Gorman has been highly involved with students. In addition to teaching classes in sociology, she has served as an undergraduate academic adviser. She once said Research Methods is her favorite class to teach because she enjoys helping students learn how to “do” sociology — figuring out how to take a research idea and develop a study design to test it.

Gorman’s effectiveness in the classroom is evident by alumni voting for her to receive the university’s top teaching award — the George R. Brown Prize for Excellence in Teaching — in 2008 and the George R. Brown Award for Superior Teaching three times. In 2007 she also won Rice’s oldest teaching honor — the Nicolas Salgo Distinguished Teaching Award — which was voted on by then-current juniors and seniors.

Students have also gotten to know Gorman through the residential colleges. A former faculty associate of Wiess and Jones colleges and former resident associate of Jones College, Gorman has served as magister of Will Rice College since 2011, along with her husband, Mike Reed. In their role as magisters, Gorman and Reed live in a house adjacent to the college and help cultivate a variety of cultural and intellectual interests among the students and support the system of self-government. They will step down as magisters June 30.

Gorman has been a strong advocate for diversity on campus. At a 2006 forum on diversity at Rice, Gorman cautioned students against having a “very narrowly construed” definition of the word. “Diversity is a broad term,” she said. “Race pops to mind first, but it is important that we also give attention to social class, gender and sexuality. Be inclusive, and think of diversity more broadly and what it means for Rice as an institution.”

As a sociologist and demographer, Gorman is interested in how social conditions and experiences shape racial and gender differences in physical and mental health among children and adults. Her research has examined disparities in morbidity, physical functioning and medical care use across major U.S. demographic groups — particularly racial, ethnic, nativity, gender and sexuality groups. For example, Gorman won a grant from Rice’s Faculty Initiatives Fund to study how gender shapes the health of Mexican-American immigrants. She has authored more than 40 peer-reviewed articles published in a variety of highly ranked sociology, demography and public health journals.

A founding faculty fellow of the Rice Center for Teaching Excellence, Gorman became a full professor in 2012 and department chair in 2014. She will step down as chair June 30 and resume teaching in the spring semester of 2019.

Gorman has been a faculty senator and has served on numerous university committees. She also is an adjunct professor of family and community medicine at Baylor College of Medicine.

Born in Maryland but raised in the Seattle area of Washington, Gorman has a B.A. in sociology from Western Washington University and an M.A. and a Ph.D. in sociology and demography from Pennsylvania State University.

Her current professional activities include serving as secretary-treasurer for the Population Association of America and as an editorial board member of the American Sociological Review. She is a former editor-in-chief of Population Research & Policy Review.

This summer Gorman and her husband will move to a house north of campus, along with their 3-year-old daughter, Frankie, two cats and a dog.

Both Leebron and Miranda expressed their deep gratitude and esteem to Hutchinson.

“We’d like to thank Dean Hutchinson for eight years of outstanding leadership and service as dean of undergraduates,” Miranda said. “Hutch’s notion of a ‘culture of care’ has been taken up by faculty, staff and students alike and represents a great legacy to Rice. I am deeply grateful for having had the chance to work with and learn from such a talented scholar and educator and truly good person. We wish him well as he returns to full-time teaching and research as a professor in the Department of Chemistry this fall.”

About B.J. Almond

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