Because I live in an apartment just five blocks from campus, I walk to work. My daily commute begins on Wroxton Court and ambles south along Ashby Street. After a dash across Rice Boulevard, I enter campus via the “Bob Curl gap” — a reference to a well-worn path taken to and from the neighborhood by former resident Robert Curl ’54, University Professor Emeritus. I cross the North Lot and make my way to Allen Center, varying my route according to time and inclination. With luck, I’ll stop for several “sidewalk meetings” along the way. It’s a pace I enjoy and not a bad way to begin a workday — sauntering, chatting with colleagues and appreciating the natural beauty of campus.

So here you have a new issue of Rice Magazine. How will you read it? Do you dash through the headlines and photos? Stop to visit with someone you know? Place a copy on the coffee table to be read as time allows? Regardless of your pace, here are some stops we recommend. 

Last September, when Rice announced revolutionary changes in its financial aid policy, students reported both cheers and tears across campus. For domestic students who depend on financial aid to attend Rice, the announcement was nothing short of miraculous. “It just felt like a weight was lifted off my shoulders,” said sophomore Mai Ton, who was quoted in a Sept. 26 Rice Thresher story. In this issue, “A Bold Step” delves into the details of The Rice Investment.

The most famous faces in this issue belong to the esteemed guests at Rice’s Baker Institute for Public Policy 25th anniversary gala held in November. It’s worth checking out the conversation between former President Barack Obama and former Secretary of State James A. Baker III, moderated by historian Jon Meacham, linked on our website. In “The Thought Factory,” we take stock of the institute’s founding and development into one of the top university think tanks in the country.   

It was a happy surprise when Ruth Oh Reitmeier ’92 sent us a draft of a personal essay — “In Pursuit of Nothing” —  she wrote recounting several days spent on a retreat sponsored by Rice’s Barbara and David Gibbs Recreation and Wellness Center. We were hooked by descriptions of hiking in the Appalachian Mountains — a respite from her daily routine at the Doerr Institute for New Leaders.  

Not into the contemplative? Check out the profile of “Night Owl” Tim Faust ’09 and his wrestling startup called Party World Rasslin’. Oh, he’s also an expert in health care policy. That’s a well-rounded Rice grad. 

We hope you enjoy your route through this issue’s features and departments, while taking in the incredibly diverse view of the Rice community. As always, send your comments, quibbles and story ideas to

— Lynn Gosnell