1908, Rice’s founding president, Edgar Odell Lovett, wrote a charter outlining the establishment of “a Public Library, and the maintenance of an Institution for the Advancement of Literature, Science, Art, Philosophy and Letters …” This direction created the foundation for what would become the Rice Institute.
1912-1915, The Rice Institute formally opened on October 12, 1912, and classes began October 23, 1912. Rice quickly built a humanities program by offering courses in Latin, French, Spanish, German, philosophy, history, poetry, psychology and English.
Rice’s first humanities professor was a lecturer from Central University of Kentucky, Thomas Lindsay Blaney, who was recruited to teach German. Other faculty appointments followed Blaney’s and the areas of study grew: Stockton Axson and John Thomas McCants in English; Albert Leon Guerand in French; and William Ward Watkin in architecture. These original faculty members shaped Rice’s humanities disciplines as well as established early post-graduate opportunities in English, French and German.
1921, The Dramatic Club, which later became the Rice Players, was formed. In 1964, Neil “Sandy” Havens would become the Rice Players’ first full-time director.
1922, Owen Wister Literary Society begins. The Owen Wister Literary Society was started at Rice University in 1924 to handle the overload of its sister societies as the university grew and the need arose for additional societies for women students. In the fall of 1924, Miss Adelle Roensch, a Rice girl, saw the need for another literary society (the third) on the campus. After discussing this idea with Mr. McCann, she got the go-ahead sign. While searching for a set of initials which would spell the school's mascot (OWLS, not SAMMY), Oscar Wilde was suggested by the girls and discarded by the administration.
1933, the first humanities doctorate degree was awarded in history. The first doctoral programs in the humanities were formally established in English and history in 1951.
1934, Samuel R. Dunlap ’31 was the first of many Rice graduates to win a Rhodes Scholarship. He pursued his graduate work in English literature and received his PhD in 1939.
1939, the Rice Owl Literary Magazine merges with Rice Alumni News.
1944, Katherine Fischer Drew, '44, '45, earns her first degree from Rice. She goes on to see Rice from many more angles--as a graduate student, the first female faculty member, a department chair, and an acting dean.
1945, the Board of Trustees developed a long-range plan for Rice, including the expansion of faculty and facilities and the modification of the curriculum to require all students to take courses in language literature, history, social studies, philosophy and education.
1953, J. Newton Rayzor ’17, the first Rice graduate to serve as a trustee of Rice, endowed the Masterson chair in history and the Rayzor chair in religious studies.
1947, the cornerstone of Fondren Library is laid in December.
1953, Dr. Carey Croneis appointed Rice's first provost. He served as provost under President Houston until 1960 and at that time assumed the additional responsibilities of Acting President following President Houston's resignation due to ill health. He served as both Provost and President until the appointment of Kenneth Sanborn Pitzer as President in July 1961. In 1961 Dr. Croneis was named Chancellor and held that position until his retirement in 1970. He was thus named Wiess Professor Emeritus of Geology and Chancellor Emeritus.
1953, Konstantin Kolenda joins the philosophy faculty three years after graduating. He goes on to teach for 38 years.
1958, “The Journal of Southern History” moved to Rice.
1959, Hamman Hall, named in honor of George Hamman and largely financed by the George and Mary Josephine Hamman Foundation, was the first building dedicated to performance arts programs at Rice.
1959, William H. Masterson ’35, who received his undergraduate degree from Rice and joined the history faculty in 1951, was named the first Dean of Humanities.
1960, the Board of Governors proposed that the Rice Institute change its name to William Marsh Rice University and the new name became effective on July 1, 1960.
1960, the “SEL Studies in English Literature 1500-1900” began in the English Department as a quarterly journal of historical and critical studies seeking to explore and understand British literature.
1962, the J. Newton Rayzor Family Foundation financed the construction of a new building, Rayzor Hall, designed to house the humanities.
1961, Alan Grob joins Rice faculty in the English department and served as chairman from 1981 to 1987. He taught courses in Shakespeare, British Romantic poetry, Wordsworth and Keats and Victorian literature at Rice for more than 40 years before retiring in 2002. He was the recipient of multiple Brown Awards for Superior Teaching as well as the George R. Brown Prize for Excellence in Teaching.
1962, Semi-Centennial of Rice is celebrated with the Academic Festival, drawing 20 world-renowned scholars to campus for the “Man, Science, Learning, and Education” lecture series.
1963, J.S. Fulton appointed interim dean of the School of Humanities.
1963, Katherine Tsanoff Brown, who entered Rice at age 15 and graduated in 1938, returned to the university to teach art. She served as the dean of undergraduate affairs from 1973-1983.
1963, Allen Matusow joined the history faculty, specializing in 20th century U.S. history. He served as Dean of the Humanities from 1981-1995.
1963, Civil War scholar and Rice professor, Frank E. Vandiver, secures sponsorship from the university to start the Jefferson Davis Association. Editorial offices open in December 1964, and after several years of scouring the country for documents, the first volume is published in 1971.
1964, Philip Wadsworth appointed dean of the School of Humanities.
1964, Neil "Sandy Havens becomes the first to serve as Rice Players' full-time director and the first tenured professor of theatre. Sandy goes on to teach for over 30 years and later served as department chairman of the Department of Art and Art History 1994-96.
1965, Rice established the Department of Fine Arts. Katherine Tsanoff Brown, James Chillman, John O’Neil and David Parsons were the original faculty for this department, which offered courses in art history, architecture, and visual and dramatic arts.
1966, Charles Garside, Jr., arrives to become part of the History Department faculty.
1967, after a flood, the Department of Fine Arts moved from Fondren Library to new temporary facilities in Allen Center while Sewall Hall is constructed.
1967, Virgil Tapazio appointed dean of the School of Humanities and Social Sciences.
1967, Louis H. Mackey (Philosophy), Trenton Wann (Psychology), Alan Grob (English), and Louis P. Galambos (History) are five of the six recipients of the inaugural George R. Brown Award for Superior Teaching. Professor Alexander X. Byrd received the award in 2006 and 2013.
1968, the Bachelor of Arts program in Linguistics is established, and linguistics post-doctorate degrees are awarded through the particular language departments and Anthropology. The Department of Linguistics will officially be founded in 1968.
1968, the Board of Trustees appoints William Masterson, former dean of the School of Humanities, the university president--only to have him resign five days later amidst student and faculty protest.
1968, art benefactors Jean and Dominique De Menil moved their spectrum of art activities from the University of St. Thomas to Rice. The Department of Fine Arts becomes the Department of Art and Art HIstory and includes film, photography, studio art, and art history.
1968, the Department of Religious Studies was founded.
1969, the new Institute for the Arts held its first exhibition titled, "The Machine as Seen at the End of the Mechanical Age," co-sponsored by the Museum of Modern Art. The Machine was one of the most important exhibitions of the 1960s dealing with art and technology.
1969, the Media Center (part of the Fine Arts Department) began courses on film with James Blue as instructor (pictured left). The Rice Media Center was the founded by art patrons Jean and Dominique de Menil to provide a channel through which different peoples of the world could communicate through film and art. The Media Center continues to serve as a vital part of the Department of Visual and Dramatic Arts today.
1969, Houston arts patrons John and Dominque de Menil brought a team of art historians and staff, an art library, and a photography and film program to the university’s Fine Arts department. As the department gained momentum with the de Menils’ ongoing support, the Rice Media Center was established, alongside the Rice Art Museum and the Rice Institute for the Arts. The sites quickly developed reputations for presenting the most innovative art, photography and film exhibitions in the city.
1969, Professor Dennis Huston joined the faculty of the English Department. He went on to teach 47 years at Rice.
1969, Professor Geoff Winningham joins the faculty of the Rice Media Center, part of the Department of Art and Art History, to teach photography. Winningham, earned his undergraduate degree in English from Rice and his work in photography and film-making supported by numerous fellowships and awards, including two Guggenheim Fellowships and 5 grants from the National Endowment for the Arts. Professor Winningham continues to each photography in a teaching career that spans almost 50 years at Rice.
1969, well-known Dickens scholar Robert Patten, now the Lynette S. Autrey Professor Emeritus in Humanities, arrives at Rice. Specializing in 19th-century British literature and art. Professor Patten taught from 1969-2012.
1971, Sewall Hall was built to accommodate the visual and dramatic arts at Rice, as well as a gallery space.
1979, The School of Social Sciences is founded, splitting from the School of Humanities and moving to Sewall Hall.
1981, Allen Matusow appointed dean of the School of Humanities.
1984, the George R. Brown Forensic Society was formed, replacing the original Rice Forensic Society, as the university’s competitive intercollegiate speech and debate team.
1984. Herring Hall was completed and named for Robert J. Herring, former chair of the Rice Board of Trustees.
1985, The university’s fifth president George Rupp, was inaugurated and became the first Rice president to have a background in a humanities discipline (religious studies).
1986, Larry McMurtry, who earned his master’s degree in English from Rice in 1960, won the Pulitzer-Prize for his novel “Lonesome Dove.”
1987, The Humanities Research Center was established by a faculty working group.
1988, in 1988, Professor Richard Smith, George and Nancy Rupp Professor of Humanities and Professor of History at Rice University, established Rice University's Asian Studies program and Asian Studies major. During its twenty-five-year history as an undergraduate major, the Asian Studies program was supported by the enthusiastic participation of Rice faculty and also by grants from various foundations such as the Chiang Ching-kuo Foundation.
1989, the Program in Ancient Mediterranean Civilizations is established.
1992, the newly founded interdisciplinary Program for the Study of Women and Gender enrolled its first majors. The program expanded its course offerings, establishing a graduate program and later changed its name to the Center for the Study of Women, Gender and Sexuality.
1994, Sewall Gallery is renamed Rice University Art Gallery and a full-time director, Kim Davenport, is hired. A year later, the gallery will showcase its inaugural exhibitions – "Leon Golub: New Work and Adrian Piper’s Cornered." Rice Gallery has been the only university gallery in the nation dedicated to commissioning site-specific installation art.
1995, Judith C. Brown is appointed dean of the School of Humanities.
1997, the Center for the Study of Languages was established under its first director, Regina Kecht, and housed in Rayzor Hall.
2000, the School of Humanities celebrated the opening of the Humanities Building, which includes Pitman Tower, the Phoebe and Bobby Tudor Conference Room and the Lee and Joe Jamail Courtyard.
2000, Gail Stokes is appointed dean of the School of Humanities.
2003, Gary Wihl is appointed dean of the School of Humanities.
2003, Art History and Visual Arts became two distinct departments, growing out of what was previously the Department of Fine Arts. Within a few years, Rice Theatre was established and in 2007, the Institute for the Arts became the Rice Cinema Program.
2004, English professor Justin Cronin established "R2: The Rice Review," an undergraduate literary journal published annual in the spring.
2005, The Campbell Lecture Series was established thanks to a generous gift from T.C. Campbell ’34.
2006, the School of Humanities establishes the Center for the Study of Women, Gender, and Sexuality (CSWGS), which houses the Program in Poverty, Justice, and Human Capabilities (PJHC), and "Feminist Economics," an internationally-renowned journal whose founding editor, Diana Strassman, is director for PJHC.
2006, the Rice Theatre Program leaves the Department of English to return to the Department of Visual Arts. The new department is now the Department of Visual and Dramatic Arts.
2007, the Houston Enriches Rice Education (HERE) Project was established to advance Rice’s relationship to the larger Houston community while enhancing faculty research and both undergraduate and graduate education.
2007, the interdisciplinary Program in Jewish Studies was established.
2009, Allen Matusow appointed interim dean of the School of Humanities.
2010, Nicolas Shumway became Dean of Humanities.
2017, Rice Art Gallery closes its doors with the Sol LeWitt exhibition, Glossy and Flat Black Squares (Wall Drawing #813), 1997. The next exhibition will be the final installation at Rice Gallery. This exhibition will be a re-installation of the work LeWitt originally created for the Gallery in 1997. This majestic work will be a fitting tribute to the installations presented over the past 22 years, the exceptional artists who made them, and all those who have supported this idea, this space, and its artists.
2018, Kathleen Canning began as Dean of Humanities.
2019, Humanities students interested in health care careers will have a new pathway into medical school thanks to an agreement struck between Rice University and the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth). The medical humanities is the study of the social, cultural, ethical, and historical dimensions of how doctors, patients, and communities understand the lived experience of health and disease. The Program at Rice is the first of its kind in the United States and a response to a nationwide demand for more intellectual diversity among medical school applicants.
2019, the Center for African and African American Studies opens in the School of Humanities to serve as Rice’s primary location for curriculum and research related to Africa and to people of African descent in the Americas and beyond. Offering a broad base for teaching and pedagogical resources as well as interdisciplinary scholarship and programming that brings Rice into national and international conversations, the center is a clearinghouse for critical conversation, instruction, cutting-edge research and community outreach in an interdisciplinary fashion.
2019, the Center for Environmental Studies opens in the School of Humanities. The center is one of only a few research center in the world specifically designed to foster and incubate research on the energy/environment nexus across the arts, humanities and social sciences.
2020, Rice history professor Caleb McDaniel won the Pulitzer Prize for his critically acclaimed account of a woman who twice survived enslavement and eventually triumphed in a historic court case against one of the men responsible for her captivity.