California couple pledges $32 million to Rice

California couple pledges $32 million to Rice

Rice News staff

Houston natives Deedee and Burt McMurtry have proven that their reputation as two of Rice University’s most generous supporters is well-deserved by pledging $32 million to their alma mater, Rice President David Leebron announced June 15.

Photo by Jeff Fitlow
Houston natives Deedee and Burt McMurtry have pledged $32 million to Rice University. Recognizing their lifetime of contributions to their alma mater, Rice will name the 10th residential college ”Burton and Deedee McMurtry College.”

”Deedee and Burt have been both extraordinarily generous and tireless in their support of Rice,” President Leebron said. ”Like true philanthropists, they have always responded to the university’s most pressing needs and have provided inspired volunteer leadership that has impacted the lives of many generations of Rice graduates. With this new pledge, coupled with earlier, undesignated gifts, the McMurtrys will help us make some strategic investments as we begin to implement our Vision for the Second Century.”

The university will use the McMurtrys’ earlier undesignated gifts, plus a portion of the new pledge, to create a long-term operating and maintenance fund to support Rice’s 50-year-old residential college system, which Burt played a role in planning back when he was a student at Rice. He was a student representative on the 1955 committee that set out the original mission and basic organizational design of the residential colleges. Under this living arrangement, each undergraduate student is a member of one of nine residential colleges. Each college has its own dormitory, dining hall and public rooms; a faculty master lives in a house adjacent to each college.

”We have long understood that the residential college system is a truly distinctive feature of undergraduate education at Rice,” Deedee McMurtry said. ”As Rice moves into its second century, we want to do our part to help preserve it for future generations of students.”

In addition, the McMurtrys’ contribution will also go toward the construction of Rice’s 10th residential college. Robin Forman, dean of undergraduates, underscored the importance of this new college.

”Rice is about to embark on a 30-percent expansion of the undergraduate student body,” he said. ”To carry this out while preserving, and even enhancing, the unique residential nature of undergraduate education at Rice, we need to build two additional colleges. We could not be happier that the McMurtrys will help us build the first of these two new colleges.”

Recognizing their lifetime of contributions to Rice, their volunteer leadership and their commitment of time to their alma mater, Rice will name the 10th college ”Burton and Deedee McMurtry College.”

”Naming a residential college is one of the most enduring legacies at Rice, and there is no alumni couple more dedicated to the aspirations of Rice than Burt and Deedee McMurtry,” said James Crownover, chairman of the Rice Board of Trustees. ”We are thrilled to add ‘McMurtry’ to the list of distinguished names attached to our residential colleges. We were truly sorry to see Burt leave the Rice board [in 2004] to become chairman of the board at Stanford University, but we could not be more grateful for Burt and Deedee’s enduring love for their undergraduate school.”

Burt and Deedee McMurtry met at Houston’s Lamar High School but did not begin dating until they came to Rice. He was the Student Association president, and she was the vice president.

Deedee McMurtry received her Bachelor of Arts in English from Rice in 1956. She is currently an active civic volunteer in the Silicon Valley, including serving on the Director’s Advisory Council at the Cantor Art Museum at Stanford University.

Burt McMurtry received Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Science degrees in electrical engineering from Rice in 1956 and 1957, respectively. He continued his education at Stanford, where he earned a Master of Science and a doctoral degree in electrical engineering in 1959 and 1962, respectively. A Rice trustee emeritus, Burt McMurtry is currently a private investor and a founding partner of Technology Venture Investors and Institutional Venture Associates in California. His venture firms have backed such companies as KLA-Tencor, Adaptec, Altera, Compaq, Intuit, Linear Technology Corp. and Microsoft.

The McMurtrys have a long history of support to Rice. They have established two endowed professorships and two endowed scholarships. The McMurtrys have also given to the Rice Annual Fund, the Class of 1956 Scholarship Fund and Anne and Charles Duncan Hall, where McMurtry Auditorium is named in their honor, in addition to many other areas of the campus.

”As Rice prepares to enter its second century with a new vision, now seemed the right time to make an additional investment in Rice and strategically combine some of our past support with new gifts to help David Leebron achieve his goals for the university,” said Burt McMurtry. ”We are glad that it all came together at a time when we could be helpful.”

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