Not even pouring rain could stop Rice University Owls from gathering in celebration of the Moody Foundation’s historic $100 million gift to the campus. More than 1,000 students flooded Tudor Fieldhouse April 7 for Moody X-Fest ’23.
The fête — the signature event of the inaugural Moody Experience celebrations — incorporated games, photo booths, free food and swag items, and several spots inside the fieldhouse were awash in light displays and LED-equipped attractions. The evening’s entertainment included student music groups Basmati Beats, Mariachi Luna Llena and Rice Phils as well as headliner Grouplove.
“The Moody Foundation understands the power of the student experience to change lives, to produce big ideas and to nurture the leaders our world needs to solve our most pressing challenges,” said President Reginald DesRoches, who hopes to make the event an annual tradition. “We're here to celebrate the many ways that the Rice experience will be enhanced. A Rice education extends far beyond the classroom, and thanks to the Moody Foundation, every Owl will have access to deeply enriched extracurricular experiences, expanded internships, global traveling, advanced preparation and engagement within the city of Houston, health and wellness resources, leadership experience, hands-on research in creative projects and much more.”
In 2021, the Moody Foundation made an extraordinary commitment to Rice to build a transformative student center and to create 12 endowments under the Moody Experience umbrella. It was the largest single gift in the university’s history.
Elle Moody ’14, a Rice trustee as well as a Moody Foundation trustee, joined DesRoches on stage to speak on behalf of the foundation and to underscore Rice’s impact in her own life.
“I have such a special place in my heart for this campus. My time at Rice was both formative and memorable. I was fortunate to study with incredible professors who challenged me to think critically, to study carefully and to truly consider different viewpoints,” she said. “And some of my best experiences happened outside the classroom: training and competing with the track team, taking part in the various clubs and college activities and studying abroad.”
Moody credited the holistic education she received with preparing her for life after college.
“This is what this gift is about. We want to ensure that every one of you has access to pursue any educational endeavor — whether it's leadership, artistic, athletic, global or more,” she said to the crowd. “We want to help you explore your interests, to encounter and interact with new ideas, to enrich both your lives and the lives of others.”
Arnav Garyali ’24, a business major on the pre-med track, felt Moody X-Fest captured the essence of Rice.
“Rice does a great job of bringing about a different part of me. Obviously, there's the academic side of me, but this kind of festival displays the community of Rice as well as the alumni network,” he said. “I think Rice brings a community of unity. Wherever you are, you will always feel like you're part of it. Personally, this is an experience that I've never had before. Listening to this type of music and the environment … that was something new to me, but it didn't feel like I was an outsider. It felt like everyone came together, and we were all one.”
The Moody Experience consists of 10 days of activities including the Center for Civic Leadership Showcase April 4, Rice-Louisiana Tech baseball games April 6-8, the Rice Undergraduate Research Symposium April 10-12 and the Engineering Design Showcase April 13.
The Moody Experience endowments supported by the $100 million gift include the Elizabeth Lee Moody International Fund in the Humanities and the Arts; the Elizabeth Lee Moody Junior Professorship; the Elizabeth Lee Moody Undergraduate Research Fellowships in the Humanities and the Arts; the Ross Rankin Moody Civic Engagement, Student Success and Global Leadership Fund; the Frances Anne Moody-Dahlberg Gateway Program in the Social Sciences; the Libbie Rice Shearn Moody Fund for the Arts; the Robert L. Moody Sr. Fund for Undergraduate Business Students; the Russell Shearn Moody Pathway to Research in the Natural Sciences; the Allan Watkins Matthews Fund in Baseball; the Ann McLeod Moody Fund for Student Wellbeing; the Irwin M. "Buddy" Herz Community Outreach, Leadership and Engagement Fund; and the Bevan/Warren Fund in Track/Cross Country.
Since 1964, the Moody Foundation has contributed more than $125 million to Rice.