Houston Newsmakers: Rice University’s historic change at the top

Provost named first African American president

Rice University President David Leebron & Rice University Provost Reginald DesRoches, Ph.D. (KPRC)

Class first began at Rice University in September of 1912 under a charter that called for the free education of the “White inhabitants of Houston and Texas.”

It wasn’t until 1965, 53 years later, when the first Black students were admitted for classes. Next Summer, 110 years after the doors of the school opened, Rice University will install its first Black President.

Rice Provost Reginald DesRoches, Ph.D. , was named in November as the heir to the position held by President David Leebron for the past 18 years.

”It was time for a change,” Leebron said. “Both for me and a change for the University.”

Leebron is a guest on this week’s Houston Newsmakers with Khambrel Marshall and talks about the achievements during his tenure, what more needs to be done, and the pride in the history-making decision to name Provost DesRoches as president.

“The single most important thing to me was values and integrity and ambition for the University,” he said. “We generally search with a committee and this really was a unanimous conclusion of that committee.”

Provost DesRoches says while it is an honor to be named as the first Black president, being “first” is a title to which he has grown accustomed.

“It’s always been the first,” he said. “I was the first Black Chair of the department at Georgia Tech, first Black dean at Rice, first Black Provost and I think when you look like me when you’re an underrepresented minority and you’re moving through the ranks you have to break barriers. That’s the nature of where we are right now.”

Lebron and DesRoches share a passion for the University that comes through in this week’s conversation with these amazing leaders. DesRoches said his focus will be across many areas.

“Making sure that our research has an impact and gets out into the community as quickly as possible, growing the reputation of our graduate programs while we maintain the excellence at the undergraduate level,” DesRoches said.

For More Information on this week’s interview:

David Leebron, J.D., President, Rice University

· Website: https://president.rice.edu/

Reginald DesRoches, Ph.D., Provost, Rice University

· Website: https://provost.rice.edu/office-of-provost/reginald-desroches

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