Rice University was founded by William Marsh Rice in
1891 and was originally named The William Marsh Rice Institute for the Advancement of
Letters, Science, and Art.
Before Rice Institute could be opened, there were challenges to be endured. William Rice died in 1900, and his will had been changed to leave his entire estate to Albert Patrick, his butler. Patrick
was imprisoned for murder in 1901, after it had become obvious that he had both poisoned
Rice and changed the will. Legal challenges to William Rice's will continued through 1904,
when the Rice Institute received a $4.6 million funding endowment. This millionaire "murder mystery" is believed by some to be,
though it is impossible to prove as, the source of the common saying "the butler did it."Edgar Odell Lovett
was the first president of the Rice Institute, and visited 78 institutions of higher learning across the world in 1908 and 1909. The cornerstone was laid for the first campus
building, Lovett Hall, in 1911. In 1912, coursework
began and Rice was unusual at this time for allowing both men and women students. The first class had 48 male and 29 female
students. They voted to adopt an Honor System in 1916, and in the same year were Rice's
first commencement exercises.In 1930, the founder's memorial statue, a landmark to the campus, was dedicated.
Rice Stadium opened in 1950, and it
remains Houston's largest outdoor stadium. The residential
college system was adopted in 1957, some twenty years after Yale University did the same. As of
2005, Rice and Yale remain the only U.S. universities where every undergrad belongs to a residential college.In 1959, the Rice Institute Computer went online. 1960 saw
Rice Institute formally renamed Rice University. Rice donated much of its land to form NASA's Manned Space Flight Center (now called Johnson Space Center) in 1962, prompting President John F. Kennedy to make a speech at Rice Stadium announcing that the United States intends "to become the world's leading space-faring
nation." The relationship of NASA with Rice University and the city of Houston has remained
strong to the present day.Rice charged tuition for the first time in 1965, and in the same year launched a $33
million development campaign. $43 million was raised by its conclusion in 1970. In 1974, two new schools were founded at Rice, the Jesse H. Jones Graduate School of Management and the Shepherd School of
Music. The Brown Challenge, a fund-raising program designed to encourage annual gifts, launched in 1976, ending in 1996 having raised $185 million. The Rice
School of Social Sciences was founded in 1979.Rice University Studies (formerly Rice Institute Pamphlet
, begun in 1915) became
the Rice University
Press in 1985. The Economic Summit of Industrialized Nations was held at Rice in 1990. In 1993, the James A. Baker III Institute for Public Policy was created. In 1997, the Edyth Bates Old Grand Organ and Recital Hall and the Center for Nanoscale Science and Technology were dedicated at Rice. In 1999, the Center for Biological and Environmental Nanotechnology was created.
Rice Owls baseball was ranked #1 in the nation for the first time in that year
(1999), lasting eight weeks at the top spot beating UT in the College World Series. In
2003, they won their first national championship.