Dear Rice Owls,
Greetings from hot and muggy Houston! While we tolerate the swampy air of summer, this time of year always reminds me of my first-ever visit to Rice in 1992.
My family was traveling to the Texas beaches for vacation and had planned several college stops along the way. Dad added Rice to the list (“a best buy!” he said), and I begrudgingly agreed. Houston was literally 100 times larger than my hometown, and I didn’t see it as a “fit” for me. But from the very minute we entered the enchanting tree-lined drive at Entrance No. 1, I was hooked. The sprawling greens of our campus lawns, the grandeur of the academic quad and Mediterranean Revival-style buildings, and the happy squirrels hopping about campus made me feel like I was somewhere truly special. And after spending the day learning about the stimulating academic environment, the college system and welcoming Rice community, I began a 27-year (and counting!) love affair with our university. Today, I love that so many of my friends (Owls and non-Owls alike!) enjoy the beauty of our campus by running the trail, picnicking with their kids or enjoying our expanding public art display. We have a gathering place for students, alumni and all Houstonians that would make William Marsh Rice proud.
As the 2019 fiscal year comes to a close, I am also reflecting on an inspiring and humbling year serving as president of the Association of Rice Alumni. Connecting Owl students and alumni across the globe at events like Homecoming and Reunion, holiday parties, externships, and (virtually) on Sallyportal has only deepened my passion for the people of our university. I’m also grateful to the members of the hard-working ARA Board who have made a lasting impact through their support of The Rice Investment and by leading the successful 24 Hour Challenge (over 4,600 donors!) to invest in the talented students at Rice. As my tenure comes to a close, I am proud to pass the gavel to my friend Frank Jones ’63, who is passionate about Rice and has exciting plans in the works to celebrate the ARA’s 100th anniversary this fall over homecoming weekend. Save the date for Nov. 1 & 2!
I hope this newsletter connects you to your Rice roots and inspires you to reach out to a fellow Owl, whether a friend from your college days or a current student who could benefit from your Owl wisdom. This summer, one great way to connect is to attend our New Student Celebrations for the Class of 2023 as they embark on their own memorable campus experience.
To Rice be true,
Michol McMillian Ecklund ’97
2018–19 President, Association of Rice Alumni