Bryan Guido Hassin

Dear fellow Rice alumni,

Well, the challenges just keep on coming for our alma mater. It seems that every time I commend a current student on how well they have faced adversity, something new rears its head. But, if there is a silver lining, it is that the next generation of Rice alumni should be prepared to handle anything!

There is plenty of good news, though, to balance out what feels like a never-ending stream of crises. Firstly, I am proud to announce the naming of Alejandra Merheb as interim assistant vice president of Alumni Relations and executive director of the Association of Rice Alumni (ARA). She has served as the alumni relations director at Rice for more than two years, and I am incredibly excited to work with her in this new role because of her deep understanding of Rice, her fierce dedication to excellence in alumni engagement, and her openness to experimentation with new models (like pivoting to all-online program delivery during a pandemic). The ARA Board will work closely with Alejandra on important initiatives, including advancing our strategic planning process and doubling down on our commitment to diversity, equity, inclusion, and justice (DEIJ) efforts.

Speaking of DEIJ, I am very pleased to share with you more information about the ARA’s dedicated DEIJ committee. This group of tireless volunteers is providing recommendations and acting as key activators of change to enhance the culture and experience throughout the alumni community. They are balancing initiatives across alumni education, ARA Board learning, and campus engagement. I encourage you to read more about the committee’s mission, its members, and objectives, and suggest ways we can build a more compassionate, inclusive Rice community for all.

As Rice alumni, we all value hard work. It’s in our DNA to push ourselves, to be bolder and think smarter, but not without remembering the importance of balance. Indeed, the ability to find balance when times are tough — to work hard and play hard — was a key lesson many of us took from our time at Rice, and I’ve learned never to underestimate the “play hard” end of the scale. You can get a clear view of the Rice spirit when a parliament of Owls from all over the world comes together to share laughs, swap stories, and support one another. It’s in those simple gatherings that the power of the Rice community is felt, which is why we’ve created opportunities for Rice alumni to connect — from happy hours and holiday celebrations to faculty lectures and our new All-Alumni Game Nights — because a great night with Owls has the possibility to impact and inspire us all.

I end this letter with a note of thanks to our alumni community for staying involved, connected, and engaged with Rice in new ways. We miss getting to see and meet all of our Owls in person, but all of us on the ARA Board and in the Office of Alumni Relations have been so appreciative of your flexibility and resiliency. When I was pulling all-nighters as a Rice student, there were moments when I worried that the tough times would outweigh the good. However, as I quickly learned while inside the hedges, and as we’ve all witnessed this past year, the combination of the two is where the magic happens. The good prepares us to inspire, the tough challenges us to overcome, and the balance between them unlocks a Rice community with no upper limit.


Bryan Guido Hassin ’01 ’02
President, Association of Rice Alumni