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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: Celebrating 50 Years of Black Undergraduate Life at Rice

Join us on Saturday, Oct. 1, 2016, as we celebrate the contributions and achievements of some of Rice’s most accomplished alumni and friends at the ARUBA Blueprint for Excellence Gala. The gala is 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. 

We welcome you to reconnect and attend these activities as the Rice University community joins together in honor of this significant occasion. 

Reception at 6:30 p.m.
Dinner and program at 7 p.m.
The Bell Tower on 34th, 901 W. 34th Street, Houston, Texas 77018

See additional weekend event information below.

Blueprint for Excellence Award Recipients

Rice University, the Office of the President and ARUBA are pleased to recognize the following recipients of the Blueprint for Excellence Awards: 

Outstanding Achievement in Service and Contributions to the University

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

Outstanding Achievement in Career

Joseph Branch ’04

Outstanding Achievement in Civic and Community Service

Janis Scott ’74 

Legacy Award

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.

50th Celebration Reunion Party
Sept. 30, 2016 | 8 p.m.-midnight | Anderson-Clarke Center
Rice alumni, friends, and current students are invited to kick off the Blueprint for Excellence Gala weekend at our exciting and lively all-campus party! Join us as a nationally known DJ plays music covering all five decades of this celebration, from Motown and New Jack Swing to Neo Soul, Reggae and current hits. This party will be a fun and casual way to reconnect with members of the Rice community.

State of Black Life at Rice University: Panel & Luncheon
Oct. 1, 2016 | 11:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. | BioScience Research Collaborative
Provost Marie Lynn Miranda and Dean of Undergraduates John Hutchinson will talk about the state of black life at Rice University today and the role and vision the university has for engaging and supporting diversity. Following their remarks, hear from a panel of Rice alumni, staff and faculty as they discuss how the Rice community can continue making progress in these areas.

Blueprint for Excellence: Farewell Brunch
Oct. 2, 2016 | TBD
Details for this event are still being finalized by the Celebration of 50 Years co-chairs and volunteer committee. Registration is available, however, for those who wish to complete it at this time.

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

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. 

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