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Celebrating 50 Years of Black Undergraduate Life

During 1965 and 1966, the first black undergraduate students were admitted to Rice University, marking one of the most significant milestones in the school's history. In celebration of 50 years of black undergraduate life, Rice University, in conjunction with the Association of Rice University Black Alumni (ARUBA) and partners across campus, is featuring a yearlong series of events designed to reflect upon Rice's history, to celebrate cultural heritage and inclusiveness, and to foster the exchange of ideas across generations. Rice alumni, students, faculty, staff, parents and friends are all welcome on this journey to chart an ever-brighter future for Rice. 

2016 Blueprint for Excellence Gala

Blueprint for Excellence Gala Weekend

On Saturday, Oct. 1, 2016, Rice University celebrated the contributions and achievements of some of Rice’s most accomplished alumni and friends at the ARUBA Blueprint for Excellence Gala: Celebrating 50 Years of Black Undergraduate Life at Rice. The gala was the featured event in a weekend filled with 50th anniversary celebration activities, including an alumni party on Friday, Sept. 30, a luncheon and panel discussion on Saturday, Oct. 1, and a farewell brunch on Sunday, Oct. 2. Read more about the events in Rice News.

Rice was pleased to recognize the following recipients of the Blueprint for Excellence Awards: 


Alex Byrd, Ph.D., ’90 
Andrea Ehlers ’88


Joseph Branch ’04


Janis Scott ’74 


Rodrigo Barnes ’73
Roland Smith, Ed.D.

2016 Events & Activities

Rice's celebration will feature several events throughout the year and will culminate with a gala in fall 2016. Be sure to check back as new details are added, and visit our Year in Review page for a chronicle of events to date.

Celebrating the Opening of the National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C.
Oct. 5, 2016 | 4 - 5:30 p.m. | Farnsworth Pavilion, Rice Memorial Center
In partnership with Houston museums of African American history and culture, Rice University will celebrate the opening of the National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC) in Washington, D.C.  Of note, ARUBA's own Travis McPhail '05, Ph.D. '10 was the lead Google engineer for the groundbreaking 3D interactive exhibits featured in the NMAAHC. The local celebration will feature excavations that Rice archaeology classes have done in Freedmen’s Town and Camp Logan in Memorial Park. Speakers include Sarah Trotty of the R.B.H. Yates Museum, Kheli Willetts of the Houston Museum of African American Culture and Major Williams of the Buffalo Soldiers National Museum. The event is organized as part of an anthropology course on The Politics of the Past and is sponsored by the Black Student Association, the African Studies Program and the Office of the Provost. 

Black History at Rice

View the interactive black history timeline
Rice acknowledges and celebrates those who paved the way for integration and have made remarkable contributions to the advancement of the universityExplore the history of black undergraduate life at Rice through this interactive timeline.

Be a part of the legacy!
Submit your photographs and memorabilia (event programs, videos, newspapers, T-shirts, etc.) to be included in the university's black history archives. If practical, you are encouraged to send original items. Please include the names of the individuals pictured, an item description and the year. 

Email photos to Mail items or drop them off between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. to:

Woodson Research Center
Fondren Library MS 44
Rice University
P.O. Box 1892
Houston, TX 77251-1892

50th Anniversary Legacy Endowment

The proceeds from the Blueprint for Excellence Gala will be used to establish a legacy endowment to promote diversity initiatives at Rice University and substantially impact the black community on campus. If you would like to make a contribution to the endowment, please contact or call 713-348-4111.

Stay Connected

Get the latest updates on the 50-Year Celebration and other Rice Alumni events by updating your contact information via our Express Update Form. In addition to connecting with our proud community of Owls, you'll receive invitations to Rice events, alumni news, networking opportunities and more.  

Connect with ARUBA

The Association of Rice University Black Alumni (ARUBA) provides opportunities for Rice's black alumni, students, parents, faculty and staff to reinforce old relationships and develop new relationships with each other and with the Rice community as a whole. Learn more. 

Celebrating Trailblazers in Rice Athletics

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