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A roundup of news from Rice Business and beyond

Rocket Man

Julian Duncan ’06 is back in Houston as the Rockets’ new CMO.

Julian Duncan

Julian Duncan returned to his hometown of Houston this summer as the new chief marketing and strategy officer for the Houston Rockets. He was previously the chief marketing officer and senior vice president of social responsibility for the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Duncan is a double Rice alum: He played football as an undergraduate in the Class of 1999 while double-majoring in sport management and English, then went on to earn his MBA from Rice Business in 2006.

After leaving Rice, Duncan played football in the NFL Europe and the Canadian Football League, then returned to Houston for the first time as a business analyst in the energy field. He later joined Nike as their global brand director. During his time at Nike and later Under Armour, he promoted the brands of iconic athletes including LeBron James, Stephen Curry, Serena Williams and Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson.

“As a native Houstonian, it is a dream come true to have the opportunity to come back home and join the Rockets,” said Duncan. “I am excited to be part of an organization with such a rich history and to help build upon a brand that is endeared by Rockets fans across the globe.”



Rice Business celebrated the Class of 2021 and 2020 at this year’s Investiture ceremony in May. The ceremony, which formally “invests” grads with their degrees, was held virtually in 2020 because of the pandemic, so this was the first chance 2020 grads had to walk the stage and receive their master’s hood from the dean. The ceremony was held in the Rice Football Stadium.

Click the buttons to view photo albums from the festivities.

Investiture (2020 & 2021)      MAcc Graduation



Rice Business Wins Brillante Award

Rice Business is the recipient of the 2021 Brillante Award for Educational Excellence from Prospanica, the association of Hispanic MBAs and business professionals.

The Brillante Award, the most prestigious honor granted by Prospanica, recognizes the exceptional contributions of exemplary individuals, corporations, and universities to the Hispanic community. Brillante Award recipients are distinguished experts in their fields and demonstrate strong leadership capabilities as well as the resilience to adapt to and overcome obstacles. Their effective and innovative solutions leave significant impacts on the business world, Hispanic business professionals and the Hispanic community at large.

The Brillante Award for Educational Excellence recognizes an institution or individual who advocates on behalf of diverse communities and students. The recipient has a successful track record dedicated to fostering Hispanics and preparing them for advanced educational, career and leadership opportunities.

“We always strive to ensure that everyone feels welcomed, valued, safe and respected. As an educational institution, we are grateful to be recognized by Prospanica with the Brillante Award for Education Excellence,” said Rice Business Dean Peter Rodriguez.

Recipients were recognized at Prospanica’s annual conference on September 30.



Expanding Operations

Amit Pazcal
Amit Pazcal
Tolga Tezcan
Tolga Tezcan

Rice Business is expanding its operations management program due to growing demand from students and industry. This summer, the school launched a new operations management faculty group.

Amit Pazgal, the Friedkin Professor of Management at Rice Business, and Tolga Tezcan, a leading scholar in business analytics and operations management who joined Rice Business this summer from the London School of Business, will be the first two faculty in the new operations group. Three additional faculty are expected to be hired in the next year to further expand the areas of focus.

All of the school’s tenured and tenure-track professors are assigned to a faculty group. We previously had five groups: accounting, finance, marketing, organizational behavior and strategy-environment. On July 1, operations management became the sixth. Pazgal moved from the marketing group to the operations management group, but will retain a courtesy affiliation with the marketing group.

“Our operations management faculty aim to deliver a deeper understanding of a company’s competencies rather than a technical engineering view of operations,” said Jeff Fleming, deputy dean of academic affairs at Rice Business. “Tolga and Amit’s work will elevate Rice Business’ current offerings and pave the way for innovation in an expanding industry.”


New Alumni Program for the Classes of 2021 and 2020

In recognition of the effect the pandemic has had on the Classes of 2021 and 2020, Rice Business is introducing a new alumni program for these recent graduates. This dedicated initiative is designed to narrow the experience gap for new alumni and facilitate continued networking, learning and professional development.

Highlights of the program include complimentary executive education courses, audits of Rice Business MBA elective courses and more. The alumni office will offer additional professional and social networking events along with complimentary memberships to Rice Business Partners, the Rice University Faculty Club and the Petroleum Club of Houston.

Alumni from the MBA Class of 2021 will also have access to complimentary international immersion programming and to Doerr Institute for New Leaders programs, including Activation 1:1 coaching, Catalyst workshops, and CoachRICE training.

For more information, visit


Riley Receives National Humanism in Medicine Award

Dr. Wayne J. Riley
Dr. Wayne J. Riley

In June, Dr. Wayne J. Riley, MBA ’02, received the Arnold P. Gold Foundation National Humanism in Medicine Medal, which honors caring and compassionate mentors in medical school education. Riley, the president of SUNY Downstate Health Sciences University in Brooklyn, NY, was honored alongside Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, and Dr. Eric Topol, founder and director of the Scripps Research Translational Institute.

The prestigious award honored Riley’s leadership of SUNY Downstate when its teaching arm, the University Hospital of Brooklyn, was designated a COVID-only hospital in one of the U.S. hot spots hit hardest by the pandemic. It also recognized his advocacy for health equity and anti-racism in medicine. Riley sits on the New York Governor's Vaccine Equity Task Force and joined with other Black leaders to create a task force to ensure that the COVID vaccine was readily accessible to Black New Yorkers and to address concerns in Black communities about the vaccine’s safety. He was profiled in the Spring 2021 issue of Rice Business magazine.


Faculty News

Barbara Ostdiek

Ostdiek Promoted to Full Professor

Barbara Ostdiek, the senior associate dean of degree programs at Rice Business, was promoted in May from associate professor to full professor of finance and statistics. As a faculty member here since 1994, Ostdiek has taught a variety of courses across all of the degree programs, most recently Portfolio Management and Economic Environment of Business; she also served for several years as the academic director of the El Paso Corporation Finance Center. Her research focuses on investments and asset pricing.

Yan Anthea Zhang

Zhang Elected Strategic Management Society Fellow

Yan “Anthea” Zhang, the Fayez Sarofim Vanguard Professor of Management at Rice Business and president-elect of the Strategic Management Society (SMS), is a newly elected fellow of the SMS. Fellows are members who are recognized for significant contributions to the theory and practice of strategic management. “We are so proud that Anthea has been selected as a fellow of the Strategic Management Society. It’s a great honor, well deserved and a reflection on her leadership in the field,” said Rice Business Dean Peter Rodriguez.

Jing Zhou

Zhou Named Academy of Management Fellow

Jing Zhou, the Mary Gibbs Jones Professor of Management and director of the Ph.D. program at Rice Business, was elected to the Fellows Group of the Academy of Management in May. The prestigious appointment recognizes members of Academy of Management who have made significant contributions to the science and practice of management. This distinguished group of scholars includes two retired Rice Business professors: Robert E. Hoskisson, the George R. Brown Professor Emeritus of Management, and Jennifer M. George, the Mary Gibbs Jones Professor Emeritus of Management.

Vikas Mittal

Mittal’s Book Claims Amazon’s Top Spot

In a new book, “Focus: How to Plan Strategy and Improve Execution to Achieve Growth,” which claimed Amazon’s top spot in new releases on market research, Vikas Mittal examines barriers to effective strategy — and how to overcome them. Mittal, the J. Hugh Liedtke Professor of Marketing at Rice Business, and his co-author, Shrihari Sridhar, a marketing professor at Texas A&M University’s Mays Business School, present seven inhibitors of strategy effectiveness in companies large and small, along with research-based strategy enablers to fine-tune execution and rally stakeholders in a unified direction.


Pardon Our Dust

It was demo day for the old Business Information Center early in September: The former library is being rebuilt as the new dean’s suite, while the main reading room is being transformed into a community space for events. The BIC itself, meanwhile, moved to new digs in the old dean’s suite across the rotunda.

The rest of the second floor has been redone with new breakout rooms and a “collaboration zone” for students. It also has new carpeting and new tables and chairs throughout the halls. Among other improvements, the renovation added a Mothers’ Room, located in the restroom just outside the BIC.

The admissions office has also been fully renovated, with a new entrance off the east hallway on the first floor of McNair Hall. Earlier this year, the rotunda was redesigned and a new state-of-the-art video wall was installed outside the admissions office, while Classroom 116 was redesigned into a high-tech learning facility: the Judy Ley Allen Innovation Classroom. Previous improvements to McNair included the construction of Audrey’s coffee house, a new student lounge and conference room, and a new home for Rice Alliance.

McNair Hall Renovations


Fed Makes Headlines at Rice Business

In June, Rice Business Dean Peter Rodriguez hosted a conversation about the economy and monetary policy with Dallas Federal Reserve President Robert Kaplan and Rice Business alum Bobby Tudor ’82, chairman of Tudor, Pickering, Holt & Co. and partner at Perella Weinberg Partners. The virtual event, organized by Rice Business External Relations, was open to the entire Rice community.

Kaplan was upbeat about how the U.S. economy was bouncing back from the pandemic, and noted that the unemployment rate was falling.


“I think it would be wiser sooner rather than later to begin discussions about adjusting our purchases with a view to taking the foot off the accelerator gently, gradually, so we can avoid having to depress the brake down the road,” said Kaplan, whose remarks were reported in Reuters and other news outlets.

“At this stage, as it’s clear we are weathering the pandemic and making progress, I don’t think the housing market needs the level of support that the Fed is currently providing,” he told Tudor and Rodriguez.


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