Bryan Guido Hassin

Dear fellow Rice alumni,

This year has been unlike anything we’ve ever experienced. However, while so many things are out of our control, it’s up to us to respond to the unique challenges in front of us and build a brighter future. I am proud to say that, as always, Rice finds a way.

By now, you have likely heard how Rice made national headlines for its swift, creative response to protecting its students and campus community. Students, on campus and remote, have shown compassion to each other and unmatched determination as they embark on a school year like no other. Our brilliant faculty and students have captured global acclaim for the development of an affordable and accessible emergency ventilator to help hospitals worldwide. Meanwhile, across industries, Rice alumni have made impactful contributions in the fight against COVID-19, including leading the development of vaccines and fighting food insecurity for high-risk populations. Rice finds a way.

While we miss getting to see you in person, the opportunities to connect with one another haven’t slowed down. An increase in online engagement efforts has led to the creation of new programs, including the Beyond the Hedges podcast, Wellness Wednesday activities, Young Alumni Life Series, monthly socials and other events highlighted through our VirtuOWL Connections page. This focus on virtual programming has also transformed our volunteer landscape, removing geographic barriers so Owls everywhere can attend events regardless of distance. To top it off, more alumni than ever before are serving as mentors on Sallyportal, helping students and fellow alumni with career ambitions and goals. Rice finds a way.

Our cyber pivot peaked in October when we combined Homecoming & Reunion and Families Weekend into a unified online experience. Owl Together, a week-long celebration of Rice alumni, students and families, offered 100+ virtual events and connected more than 3,000 Owls from all over the world. This first-of-its-kind experience was only possible thanks to the work of tireless Rice staff and hundreds of dedicated volunteers. We learned a tremendous amount about how to serve our global alumni base virtually, and we will keep learning, such that alumni events will keep improving, even once in-person gatherings are practical again. Rice finds a way.

The Association of Rice Alumni (ARA) Board of Directors is committed to continuing two important efforts into the new year, including our Committee on Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Social Justice focused on creating a more welcoming environment for all of our Owls. We are also hard at work advancing our strategic plan to build the alumni organization of the future and create lifelong value for our growing alumni population. We welcome your input on both endeavors, so please share your suggestions and ideas through this contact form. Challenging circumstances are no excuse not to strive continually to better serve our members. Rice finds a way.

I speak for all of us at the ARA when I express our heartfelt gratitude for all that you do for Rice. I hope all of you have a safe and happy holiday season, and there is no doubt in my mind that we will rise from this a stronger and more resilient community.

Rice finds a way.

Go Owls,

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