HOUSTON – Rice University President David Leebron announced that he will step down on June 30, 2022, which will conclude an eighteen year term as president of the institution.
“To many, it may seem that 18 years is an odd number, but in fact this number has special significance in the two cultures that dominate my own family,” Leebron said in a letter to the Rice community. “In the Chinese culture it symbolizes good fortune, and in Jewish culture and Hebrew language it represents “life.” And certainly I could not have asked for more good fortune than to serve for a significant part of my life as Rice’s president.
“I am so grateful to Rice University for this incredible opportunity and to the extraordinary people who make up the Rice community and have time and again demonstrated our common values and commitment to excellence, creativity and compassion,” he added. “Together, we have been driven by our desire to contribute to the betterment of our world and by our constant ambition to become an ever better university. I am thankful to the Rice Board of Trustees, which offered this opportunity and has supported me as president during this time of dramatic evolution and progress.”
Leebron has led Rice University as its seventh president since 2004. Under his leadership, the university’s student population has grown about 55% from 4,855 when he arrived in 2004 to about 7,500 in fall 2020, according to a release. Leebron has also overseen the transformation of Rice’s campus, which is in the midst of completing a $1.8 billion capital improvement plan, and the addition of many new research institutes and initiatives.
“I am proud of so many things that we’ve accomplished at Rice,” Leebron said in a release. “But I’m especially proud of the community’s constant desire to provide greater opportunities and address the most important challenges facing our city, our country and our world.”
Leebron’s long tenure as Rice University President is is second only to the institution’s founding president, Edgar Odell Lovett, who held the post for 34 years.
After graduating from Harvard Law School in 1979, the Philadelphia native served as a law clerk for Judge Shirley Hufstedler on the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in Los Angeles. Prior to taking the helm at Rice, Leebron served stints teaching at UCLA School of Law in 1980, the NYU School of Law in 1983 and at Columbia Law School where he was later appointed its dean.
A search committee will be formed to find the university’s next president, Rice announced in a release.