Before I moved to Houston six years ago, a co-worker and Rice grad passed along a tip. “Check out The Ginger Man — a great old pub with character.” Opened in 1985, the pub is hardly “old” by Rice Village standards, but as my co-worker’s advice indicated, it had earned the status of beloved icon — the kind of place and experience you want to share with others. Soon enough, I was a Village regular — carefully carrying a latte through the crowded tables of Croissant-Brioche, meeting new friends at Salento and browsing for bargains at Half Price Books.   

The Rice Village is home to many iconic places — El Meson, British Isles, Dromgoole’s, Main Street Theater — or to their lasting memories — Alfred’s Deli, Variety Fair 5 & 10 and the Cultured Cow, for example. In recent months, the Village has seen a great deal of change as a result of steps taken by the Rice Management Company (RMC), the investment arm of Rice’s endowment. More outdoor seating, new shops and restaurants, public art and — to the consternation of some — parking meters have sprung up. What’s the goal? “Rice Village should be, and it needs to be, one of the best urban shopping districts in the country,” said Ceci Mesta Arreola ’09, real estate manager for RMC.

These days, the Village’s eclectic mix of local, regional and national offerings are indispensable to my Houston life — where else can you get your clothes cleaned, your car inspected and pick up a to-go order of tacos within a three-block radius? And there’s even a Gap! Read about this multimillion-dollar investment project in our story, “Rice’s Village.”

Next, turn your attention to Scientia, a faculty-led institute that sponsors an annual colloquia of ideas. Each lecture draws a crowd of faculty and students who are hungry for thoughtful and expert insights into timely topics. This year’s topic — facts — was turned over and examined from a wide range of disciplinary perspectives. The results were thought-provoking and frequently entertaining to boot. “The key to deciding what information to accept involves being clear about the standards of evidence, but not all facts are subject to the same standards and oftentimes those standards are disputed. What then to believe?” asked Rick Wilson, Scientia director. Read “The Life of Facts,” check out the videos and decide for yourself.

Writing about team sports offers an opportunity to go beyond the scoreboard to explore themes of commitment, competition and endurance. You can find these stories in any sport, played at every level. For this issue, we just happened to find one in the aspirations of Rice’s club water polo teams. Check out our story, “In the Zone.”

We hope you enjoy these features as well as our regular departments exploring research, creative achievements, campus life and alumni accomplishments. Send your feedback to [email protected].