Rice U.’s Housing and Dining receives top marks from Princeton Review

Rice culinary workers

Two Rice University core services earned high praise from The Princeton Review in its recent Best Colleges rankings. In the quality-of-life category, Rice ranked No. 12 for best college dorms and No. 18 for best campus food, marking yet another year in which the two services have ranked within the top 20 in their respective categories.

“These rankings affirm our mission to help our students reach their full potential and that we are striving together towards excellence in our pursuits,” said Beth Leaver, interim executive director for Housing and Dining.

The Princeton Review’s lists are entirely based on what students say about their experiences. The organization tallied the rankings based on survey data from 160,000 students at the schools in its “The Best 388 Colleges” book.

Leaver mentioned some of Housing and Dining’s efforts that likely generated the positive results.

“We are always recruiting the best talent to achieve the overall vision for the department. From industry chefs to hospitality professionals, our goal is to align high-quality food and service, while providing fresh residential spaces and a relational connection,” she said. “Something of value is that we are self-operated. While leveraging developmental and educational resources as Rice staff, this structure has allowed us to have more creative control and exploration."

“Our dining program is chef-driven, where they are able to generate their own menus and recipes. We have chefs from all over the world, anywhere from Asia, Africa, Europe to the Americas, and they are able to educate and connect our community by their taste of home. Our housing staff is also very diverse where students are able to converse in other languages and not be too far from familiarity within their cultures.”

Other new dining practices adopted in recent years include fostering an undergraduate culinary internship program that provided students with employment opportunities while teaching them a lifelong skill like cooking, adding more international foods to match the increase in Rice’s international population, and implementing nontraditional dining times like “munch,” which takes place between lunch and dinner, to accommodate students’ class schedules.

For housing, Leaver points to effective capital planning to support growth like the recent construction of Hanszen College’s new wing.

“We developed a new wing that is the first mass timber building on campus and residential building in the Houston area,” she said. “We are adding more bed capacity on the campus to support an increase in undergraduate growth. This is important because we guarantee first-year housing to incoming students.”

For a full list of The Princeton Review’s rankings, click here.