Rice Business Facilities McNair Hall

Message from Dean Peter Rodriguez to students:

Dear students,

Today, one day following the funeral and celebration of the life of George Floyd — which took place in our hometown of Houston — we reflect on the inspiring message of that peaceful event and the importance of this moment in our history. Now we must bring the determination and hope needed to match the need for change, unity and healing. We must also commit to promoting a fair society for all through our primary mission, which is to provide an education that prepares our students to lead effectively and justly and which equips them to improve society and the organizations they lead.

Many of our students and alumni are meeting this challenge now. Please, consider championing the Jones Student Association’s fundraising effort (see their GoFundMe page here for more details) in support of organizations at the forefront of the issues highlighted by the death of George Floyd.  

While we continue to support each other through, and share the weight of our concerns about, efforts to combat racial injustice and the global pandemic, we’re also focused on the future. Rice is preparing for a return to campus, including policies and practices regarding face covering, physical distancing and maximum density of students, faculty, staff and guests on our campus. We’re doing the same at the business school. Our Fall Reopening Working Group is mapping out use of classrooms, offices, hallways, bathrooms and common rooms to make us ready for staff, faculty and students returning to the building. You will hear more about these details in the near future from that team.

I’m optimistic that we’ll be on campus soon, safely face-to-face, enjoying the positive energy and camaraderie that makes our community special, and reenergized to begin the important work we must do on many fronts.

Best,
Peter

Message from Dean Peter Rodriguez to Staff:

Dear staff,

I hope you and your families had a chance to enjoy the long Memorial Day weekend. I am writing to let you know the progress and preparations for our eventual return to campus this summer and the roll out of the fall term. 

Based on research, along with safety protocols coordinated with Rice and the guidance of medical and epidemiological experts, we are working towards all courses being delivered in a dual modality, with students present in the classroom both physically and via remote connection. This ensures that everyone in our community with a health concern, individual concern or company/employer challenge can safely return to McNair Hall, while we provide students with the top-tier education and experience that defines Rice Business. 

We will have new inputs and changes to our plans throughout the following weeks, but we have teams in place who are working hard to plan, communicate and execute a safe and successful return to campus. 

The single top priority is your safety. 

Soon after the first public reports about coronavirus, Rice launched our pre-existing crisis protocol for serious health events. Within days, all classes moved to remote delivery and all on-campus events were cancelled or moved online. Staff and faculty began working from home. We’re grateful to say this functioned early and well, averting major community spread in our university family.

The Rice University Crisis Management Advisory Council has been meeting consistently since the start of the pandemic. George Andrews is our representative on this team, which sets campus-wide protocols for cleaning, re-entry policy, personal protective equipment (PPE) and more.

Also, at the university level, a faculty group called the Academic Restart Committee (ARC) has been formed, and James Weston is our delegate. They will be responsible for working through issues to assist faculty and providing advice and guidance on critical aspects of the restart in the fall, whether or not that ends up being dual delivery. At this point, the business school intends to be dual delivery, as stated previously. 

At the business school level — and coupled with Kevin Kirby’s new Monday updates about the university’s plans, policies and responses — I enlisted a Summer 2020 Reopening Working Group who have been tasked to reopen the school safely and on time.  

Fabiola Currarino, reporting to Barbara Ostdiek, is the group’s lead, working alongside a few department heads (Kathleen Clark, Adam Herman, Phil Heavilin, Ben Guest, Elaine Brewer and Deanna Golden). On a weekly basis, the group is consulting with the dean’s suite on key issues and decision making. 

To date, the working group has: 

  • Assessed classroom capacity and compliance with distancing guidelines
  • Recommended new technological capabilities for classrooms
  • Begun outlining guidelines for co-curricular and community-building activities for students
  • Addressed cleaning spaces and safe enter-exit strategies for classrooms and offices
  • Discussed potential shift schedules for staff

The working group now will be reaching out to students, faculty and staff to learn about special accommodations, constraints, teaching preferences or other concerns needed for your personal safety and professional and personal situation. Adam Herman will be the lead for students; Fabiola will be the lead for faculty and staff.

More details will follow this email, but for now I want you to know that we are working hard to make everyone feel comfortable about coming back to work and class. In the meantime, I know I can count on your patience and flexibility during this time when we’ll be learning new routines and protocols. 

Thank you for being an integral part of a problem-solving team. Your creativity and determination will be our hallmark. 

Best, 
Peter
 
P.S. Starting today, my COVID messages to our community will come out biweekly.

Message from Dean Peter Rodriguez:

Dear colleagues, students, friends and new alumni,

Congratulations to those of you who graduated this past weekend. You are now our newest alumni. Welcome! You made it, and we’re proud of you.

We produced, as did Rice University and other schools all over the world, our first ever online graduation celebration. While we will celebrate again in person in the fall, this virtual ceremony still delivered a feeling of intimacy as we watched from home and reminisced about the journey these past few years and recent months. We’ve all come together to weather the storm and find solutions to any roadblocks. We’ve reached out and held each other up. I feel grateful for this community and the solidarity you’ve shown. 

Also, in keeping with the week of graduation, we held our spring slate of meetings with our faculty, the Council of Overseers and Rice Board of Trustees. I finished the week satisfied that we have and will continue to make progress towards our strategic goals. 

Governor Abbott spoke Monday to confirm the state is moving into Phase 2 of the safe and strategic reopening of businesses. While COVID-19 hospitalizations remain steady, testing across Texas has increased in recent weeks and the percentage of tests coming back positive has continued to drop. 

Still, most of us will continue to work from home, perhaps for some time. We’ve entered week 10 of this period of working apart/working from home and it feels a bit like Groundhog Day. In the coming weeks we will announce further details about our plans for the new academic year, including how we will return to teaching and working safely on campus. We will prioritize safety for everyone in our community and will need your support and cooperation to help us make wise decisions and deliver on our mission for our students and the broader academic community.

While you continue to adjust to a different way of working and living, I hope you will find calm and comfort wherever you are and that you will continue to work well and support each other. Remember that we’re in this together. The resilience and commitments I have seen from our community over the last few months makes me confident that together we will see it through and advance our school to new heights.

Best,
Peter

Message from Dean Peter Rodriguez:

Dear colleagues, students and friends,

This week holds the crowning moment of our academic year: graduation. It’s our favorite time of year and our proudest. And yet, this year, everything is different.

We are celebrating countless “firsts” this spring, at Rice, at home, at work. Our first ever Virtual Graduation Celebration scheduled for Friday at 1:00 PM may possibly rank as the biggest first of all. To those of you graduating, I extend heartfelt congratulations from the entire Rice Business community. We will never forget the past few months. After Friday, we will never forget the Class of 2020, who accepted their unusual position, rose to the occasion and graduated from home. We hope you enjoy this experience with its extra special touches unique to this unique year. We look forward to celebrating an in-person Investiture in the fall, coinciding with the university's on-campus commencement.

Another first for the school, we held our first remote Council of Overseers meeting yesterday. Made up of 51 community and business leaders, the council comes together formally three times a year and helps advise the business school to be the best it can be. Yesterday, over Zoom, we discussed candid projections for the state of the economy and the school. It left me optimistic and appreciative of the expertise we have within our community to help us flourish during uncertain times.

Finally, I’m pleased to introduce a special online edition of the alumni magazine, a first that may have lasting repercussions. What started out as an experimental format to stay connected during a time when perhaps a printed magazine delivered through the mail may not have been read has turned into a clean, modern and possibly more reader-friendly option. You’ll have to let us know what you think.

As I pause on the threshold of graduation, I send you all best wishes for the future and for continued health and happiness. Together we’ve made this work, and together we’ll see it through. 

Best,
Peter

Message from Dean Peter Rodriguez:

Dear colleagues, students and friends,

We are two months into this season of working from home and going strong. While there is some unrest around the country about reopening businesses, the Rice Crisis Management Team has been clear: faculty and staff who have been working remotely should continue to do so. This means it’s worth it to get comfortable at home, even if it’s only a temporary “office,” such as the kitchen table. As the university works on a phased return plan for faculty, staff and students, Scott Sonenshein’s new book with Marie Kondo, "Joy at Work," has some meaningful advice about working from home that just may come in handy right about now.

Last night, President Leebron sent a detailed message about Rice’s plans going forward. I encourage you to read through it. I’ve pulled out a few salient points that pertain to our school:

  • We are cautiously optimistic that we will begin the new academic year on schedule with all students who are able returning to campus.
  • Depending on evolving facts and government rules, we will plan a gradual process of reopening, keep social distancing standards high and expect those who are interacting on campus to wear masks.  
  • At each stage, we will re-evaluate our plans as the facts and circumstances surrounding COVID-19 change.
  • All summer events and camps are canceled through the end of July. 
  • Rice courses scheduled during the undergraduate summer session will be offered only online.
  • Starting in early June, after assessing the circumstances and the recommendations from health authorities, we will gradually bring back staff from across all campus functions, while continuing to encourage those who can to work from home. It will be up to each dean’s discretion as to which staff members return to campus.
  • We will be adopting additional safety measures across our campus community, including protocols for COVID-19 testing, contact tracing and precautionary isolation of individuals that may have been exposed to the virus.
  • Large gatherings will continue to be prohibited on campus. 
  • Classes may be scheduled in a somewhat different way in order to accommodate additional social distancing measures. All classes will be offered in a dual mode (both on campus and online).
  • The policies regarding employment will remain in force for the month of May, namely that no full-time employees will be furloughed or discharged solely by reason of the COVID-19 crisis or because we are unable at this time to bring them back to the campus to work.
While the president’s message applies to the entire university, there are some measures we will address independently. Now, while working apart, we need each other (more than ever) to do spectacularly well the things we are used to doing spectacularly well in person. Let’s help each other make this graduation celebration the best, first and last remote celebration ever. Look for a link to our celebration in next week’s letter and join us if you can.
 
Finally, with a nod to John Krasinski’s “Some Good News,” I wanted to share “Our Good News” about two graduating students and an alumna:
  • Poets & Quants announced its "100 Best & Brightest MBAs: Class of 2020” full-time feature. We had two students included this year: Norma Torres Mendoza and Doug Fiefia. I am so proud to have them represent Rice Business. Poets & Quants calls these students the “leaders who rally; the mentors who champion; the visionaries who awaken; and the volunteers who shoulder the heaviest burdens.” Well done, Norma and Doug! You can find them on pages 4 and 5 here.
  • One of our 2019 MAcc grads, Molly Garrison, earned this year's Watt-Sells Award for her CPA exam score. The top 137 test takers out of 175,000 receive this award! This makes the third year running that a MAcc grad has won the Watt-Sells Award, which is phenomenal in light of our small size and the fact that, unlike the vast majority of CPA exam test-takers, our award winners have all been non-accounting undergrad majors. Congratulations, Molly.

Please feel free to pass along other good news pieces for me to share. Continue social distancing. Wear face coverings in public. Stay safe and stay positive. Together we’ve made this work, and together we’ll see it through.

Best, 
Peter

Message from Dean Peter Rodriguez:

Dear colleagues, students and friends,

These seven weeks of working from home and staying out of public spaces have tested our stamina like no other crisis. Nevertheless, we’re managing well amid the pandemic, the disruption to our schedules and the personal toll. I am confident we will be ready and fit for a gradual return to campus and for a strong start for our next academic year. Thank you.

The economic fallout from the pandemic and the downturn in the oil and gas industry are likely to further test our community, but I want to assure you that our school has a strong financial position. We maintain healthy financial backstops and plan to continue normal operations and staffing through this downturn. We expect to end the fiscal year at break even and will continue to innovate and invest for the future while managing the necessary fiscal discipline.  

We’re looking at fall schedules and trying to understand what it will take to be prepared. Currently, the university won’t open the campus for events until July 1. While I expect that we will be able to offer an in-person kickoff for new fall cohorts and course delivery for continuing students, we are also preparing for the possibility of further delays in a full return to normal campus operations. These preparations will include the provision of remote launch and kickoff events as well as remote course delivery options should these be required due to direction from state and or local government. To maintain readiness in the event of future disruptions and to address ongoing health concerns, we are also preparing to offer a simultaneous in-person and remote course delivery. 

Meanwhile, admissions numbers look strong and, by some measures, are better than in recent years. International students face a high degree of uncertainty with respect to visa issuance and travel restrictions, and we have had more requests than usual for deferrals or late deposits. MBA@Rice numbers are higher than anticipated, and overall created applications have jumped for on-campus programs. Extended June deadlines will give us a higher likelihood of achieving our enrollment targets for the fall.

Two final notes. One, the Rice Crisis Management Team sent out a reminder that starting yesterday an order went into effect requiring people over the age of 10 to wear a face covering when they’re in public places through May 26. No need to wear it when you’re alone in a room or an office, while you’re eating or drinking or exercising outside, but you do have to wear face covering on campus. Two, the governor held a press conference yesterday to outline a three-phased reopening of the Texas economy. After the stay-at-home order expires Thursday, April 30, phase one of the new plan will begin Friday, with safety standards in place and limited capacity. If the infection rates continue to decline, the state could move into phase two by May 18. For phase one, there will be no change to events on campus; we will remain closed. 

I feel a little promise in the air, along with spring. I hope you do too. Continue social distancing. Wear face coverings in public. Stay safe and stay positive. Together we’ve made this work, and together we’ll see it through. 

Best, 
Peter

Message from Dean Peter Rodriguez:

Dear colleagues, students and friends,

Most of us have been working from home for over a month now, though it may seem longer than that. With this extended and unchanging routine comes challenges and also moments of unexpected, simple pleasures. I hope you’re experiencing those moments, staying healthy and finding new ways to be positive.

We are awaiting updates from state and local government to slowly “re-open” the state and what that will look like for Houston and Rice. In the meantime, President Leebron extended the campus closure for events to July 1, and there have been no guidelines about returning to campus just yet. I’ll keep you posted on details about that.

A few encouraging notes:

  • Started applications are up for the MBA@Rice July cohort. Projections for early May are 100 submitted applications, up from 55 last year.
  • We’re also looking for virtual alternatives to Professor Scott Sonenshein’s launch for his latest book, Joy at Work, which he co-wrote with Marie Kondo. Stay tuned!

Although we may be working apart for a while longer, I’m grateful for our accomplishments now, both for the school and in the community. Until we see each other in person (soon), keep up the great work.

Peter

Message from Dean Peter Rodriguez:

Dear Colleagues, Students and Friends,

I’m truly encouraged by the creativity and resiliency I see amidst the pandemic. Across our community I see people appreciating the small things, celebrating holidays in new ways, planning the first-ever virtual Investiture (just announced!) and working productively from home. Thank you for keeping positive attitudes and living the commitments and values that make us proud to be a part of Rice Business. 

Progress continues at Rice University despite our physical absence from campus. For-credit undergrad summer session classes will be offered at a 50% discount from last year’s tuition, not only to registered undergraduate students but also to the general public. These include our popular undergrad business minor classes and a few other undergraduate elective courses. (It doesn’t include graduate courses.) For those interested, or who know a high school or college student who might be interested, find more details on application and admission here

The university has also been hard at work planning the next steps for our community. The president has decided to extend the campus closure for events to May 31 to keep everyone safe. It remains unclear when and under what guidelines we will return to working from campus but, at this point, we know that we will not have any events on campus before June. 

A few additional things I’m proud of this week:

  • Zoom sessions are through the roof! From March 16-31, we held 616 Zooms, 231 of which were classes. For the first 11 days of April, we’ve held 343 Zooms, 201 of which were classes. We’ve also used it to stay connected with a Staff Town Hall, staff coffee chats and International Partio. Check out how we managed partio in this video. 

 

  • On April 6, Rice Business was highlighted in Poets & Quants ranking of minorities at the top 25 U.S. MBA programs. Rice Business topped the list at 35%. Only four schools have 30% or more. This is impressive but not surprising to me. We’ve been intentional in creating a diverse community. Now everyone else knows it too. 
  • Our Career Development Office has been hard at work responding to the news that companies are forced to make difficult decisions around staffing and the future of their talent acquisition strategy, including lay-offs and furloughs. Their new initiative, called REV (recruit, explore, volunteer), helps with challenges our alumni and students face with job search and talent acquisition. 

Keep doing your best to stay home, stay healthy and stay positive. Remember that we have much to be grateful for, that we have a strong community to support us and that we’re all in this together.

Peter

Message from Dean Peter Rodriguez:

Dear Colleagues, Students and Friends,

I hope this message finds you healthy, optimistic, and still connected to your friends, relatives and work. I was very proud to read President Leebron’s latest message over the weekend explaining that Rice has opened two residential colleges as temporary housing for medical personnel who work in Texas Medical Center hospitals. It’s one more way that Rice shows its gratitude for and commitment to Houston and our incredible healthcare community. 

I am also pleased to share that at Rice Business, it’s business as usual, except for meeting in-person that is. In other words, classes continue, research continues, admission information sessions continue, the new MBA Early Admit program has officially launched, and MBA applicants are temporarily allowed to provide ACT or SAT scores instead of GMAT or GREs due to closed standardized testing sites. Our team has proven to be resilient, creative and adaptive in this challenging time. We’ve made other temporary changes too:

  • The MBA@Rice Negotiation ILE taught by Professor Jing Zhou that was planned to be on campus this past weekend also shifted online. Jing said the course was brilliant. The students actively participated in all negotiation exercises and made high-quality, thoughtful and practical contributions to class discussions. At times of great uncertainty and challenge, true leaders emerge and step up, and she felt our Rice MBA students did just that. She felt the faculty and staff also worked well together as a team to make it happen, thanking in particular Michael Koenig, Barb Ostdiek, Megan Gossett, Derek Hill and Marci Carlson. Her only difficulty? “I am so used to walking around the classroom while teaching, that sitting for a full day and a half was a challenge. Right after the class ended, I went out to run for a long time, setting a personal record!”
  • We’ve made the decision to produce the spring issue of Rice Business magazine in online form. That will allow us to get you the latest information and to update it with new developments as they happen. We’ll share a link when the issue goes live on our website.
  • The first ever virtual admit day for full-time MBA students kicked off with a virtual partio last Thursday where admitted students were split into groups for virtual trivia and getting to know each other. On Friday they had the chance to connect via Zoom with the deans, Career Development and Student Program offices, current students, and the admissions team. 

Rice Business is a closely-knit community that knows how to respond to a crisis, but COVID-19 has challenged us in new ways. I know we’re all looking to support each other, our students and our neighbors. Please, reach out to colleagues and lead from where you are to preserve and leverage the ties that are our collective strength. Share the details of life that we may have taken for granted in a setting where closeness and togetherness were easier to achieve. Look for our faculty in the news. And, most of all, stay connected, stay positive and stay home.

Best,
Peter

Message from Dean Peter Rodriguez:

Dear Rice Business Community, 

Yesterday, the "Stay At Home" order was extended until April 30. For our community at Rice Business, these orders mean we’ll be extending our current work-from-home procedures until then as well. Though social isolation takes a toll on everyone, the leadership that our Rice Business family shows at this time makes a life-or-death difference for our loved ones and our neighbors. Thank you for your meticulous honoring of these measures.

Because of the extension of the "Stay at Home" order and the likely need to continue substantial social distancing measures well after this date, Rice announced postponement of in-person graduation for the class of 2020. We are adopting the same for Investiture. Second year students, I know how deeply disappointing this is for you and your families. You have earned the celebration of a master’s hood after two years dedicated to business school. We are determining next steps, and we will inform you about the new schedule and other details about Investiture as soon as we have a plan to announce.

In the coming weeks, our communication plan is to update all our audiences (staff, faculty, students, alumni and other business community leaders) on a weekly basis unless there is a major change in the crisis that includes new direction for the community. 

These uncertain times may obscure the positive and inspiring actions all around us and within our community, but I've seen many of them recently. Speaking with dozens of newly admitted students this week assures me that our future is bright and that the ways we demonstrate our community's care, compassion and resiliency are noticed by everyone we touch. And, this unprecedented event is already producing innovations and improvements in all we do. Despite its challenges, this is also an exciting time to work in academia. 

Thank you for your fortitude, and for defending the health of the community far beyond Rice's beautiful campus. We'll get through this together and be the stronger for it. 

Best,
Peter

Looking to rep Rice Business during Zoom calls? Look no further.

Message from Dean Peter Rodriguez:

Dear Rice Business Community, 

I write to update you on our school in light of the ‘Stay Home, Work Safe’ order issued this morning by Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo. Under the order, which begins at 11:59 this evening and lasts until at least Friday, April 3, all of Harris County joins Dallas County, Brazos County, Galveston County and the cities of Austin and San Antonio, which have issued similar orders. 

The judge’s order asks that we, ‘… stay at home unless our jobs are essential to the health and safety of the community.’ The good news is that we’re almost all of the way to this point at Rice Business now. The additional adjustments we have to make are relatively small and manageable. Thanks to so many of you who have rallied and supported each other, we are able to ensure that our primary mission to educate not only continues, but also continues to meet our high standards. 

Beginning tomorrow, the number of people on campus will be reduced to the bare minimum. Thinking of our beautiful campus without us on it seems like such a loss, but this unprecedented circumstance also reminds me of a sign outside a rural church near my hometown. The sign read, ‘The Pirtle United Methodist Church Meets Here,’ making it clear that what mattered was the people dedicated to the mission of the place, not the place itself. Just as the congregation, not the building, comprised the Pirtle United Methodist Church, our community, and not our campus, is the essence of our school. 

A few days after the rain stopped from Hurricane Harvey, a reporter asked me how our school was managing to carry on. Despite all the chaos, what I recall most were the undeniable bonds connecting our community and the strong feeling of optimism and pride at working with friends who were also great citizens and generous leaders. With many needs to fill, facing hard work and hard adjustments, we were at our best, taking care of each other, supporting the well-being of our community and giving our best efforts for our students. That time is here again and I know, and have seen, that we have within our community everything we need to flourish through this moment.

Our rallying call to be ‘attentive, responsive and kind’ in all that we do was established to express the values made evident in the wake of Hurricane Harvey. Now, as then, let’s lead from where we are and act to express these same core values in all the ways we engage with each other and with our community. 

Stay connected, stay positive and stay home, 
Peter 

Message from Dean Peter Rodriguez:

Dear Rice Business Community, 

In this moment, amidst a cacophony of messages and the odd urgency of doing less, it seems safe to say that we all prefer the usual version of March Madness. Yesterday, missing the presence of all those college basketball games really hit home. Not everything about college revolves around sports, but some of the very best things do. Years of preparation and teamwork burst onto our screens, backdropped by gleeful students and passionate alumni. The intense thrill of competition draws out our fighting spirit and reminds us that part of our identity is deeply attached to ‘our’ schools. Bracket competitions fill every workplace and involve even those with no real interest in sports. We are connected, together, having fun and celebrating competition, endurance, talent, and most of all teamwork. It’s a two-week festival for why we love college. This year, we are really going to miss it — and spring professional sports, Rodeo, concerts, the Rice Business Plan Competition, etc.

What really moves our spirit about the NCAA Tournament is identifying with the universal appreciation for a great team and the contributions of every single member of that team. Seeing them pushed to their limits, dripping sweat and revealing every emotion on their faces is like looking out at our teammates this past week and, sometimes, like looking in a mirror.

Over the past few weeks, the faculty, staff and students at Rice Business have pushed our own limits like never before. We went to all-remote course delivery this week for all of our degree programs. We started one week before the rest of the university and even started with the MAcc program a week earlier. Doing so was, and remains, a truly enormous task. Ours was spearheaded by a relatively small group in our Office of Technology (OOT) and the professors who turned on a dime to adapt their courses. The OOT team deserves high praise and respect. They are our first responders and have left every ounce of their commitment ‘on the court’ since this situation began.

In this past week:

  • We have successfully delivered 224 remote class sessions for 95 courses taught by 56 faculty. 
  • We’ll deliver more this weekend and will ramp up delivery for our undergraduate courses next week, bringing our expected weekly totals to nearly 300 sessions per week. 
  • We also delivered a fantastic panel on the financial and economic impacts of COVID-19 to over 200 students and had some fun, too. 
  • Students lightened the mood in one Zoom class session by dressing-up in “Harry Potter”-themed fashion. 
  • And we held a ‘remote Partio’ for a hearty band of about 40 students last night. 

We are adapting very well to this rapid change and will have to continue doing so. Presence on campus will need to be kept to a bare minimum. More courses will need to be delivered from individual faculty offices or homes. And we will have to address all the consequences that follow from remote delivery and not being able to gather for events and celebrations. 

Please, continue to cooperate with what we must do to adapt and be patient, supportive and creative in all the ways we engage with each other for the rest of the semester.

Though there is much to do, I am more confident than ever about our team’s ability to deliver success on all fronts. My inbox, text messages, phone calls and Slack channels are filled with all the right phrases: ‘What can I do to help?’ ‘Tell me what we need.’ ‘I’m on it.’ ‘Let’s get it done!!’ ‘We got this!’ 

We have many tests ahead, but together, we’ll best them all. Stay connected and safe and please, do what you can from where you are to pitch in and keep our community engaging, interesting and exciting throughout this period. 

Patiently awaiting March Madness 2021,
Peter

Message from Dean Peter Rodriguez for Students, Staff and Faculty:

Dear Rice Business Community,

I write to follow up on the latest message from Rice regarding the decision to cancel ‘in-person’ classes for the week of March 9th. To clarify, this decision was not made because any more Rice students or personnel have been quarantined or tested positive for the coronavirus — they have not.  

One reason for this decision was to prepare more of the campus for remote class delivery, which will help to accommodate students who are ill, immunocompromised or uncomfortable attending class in these circumstances. Being better prepared for remote class delivery and other class options helps keep everyone safer. The ‘extra’ week of preparation allowed by the cancellation makes it more likely that we will be able to complete courses that are underway or soon to begin. Fortunately, Rice Business is prepared for remote delivery in many of our classrooms and we are quickly adding capacity. Students in most courses will soon receive instructions on how to access their remote class or what alternatives to in-person classes are being offered.  

Rice’s administration also announced the decision to eliminate activities that bring increased risk for the potential spread of the virus, namely, events with more than 100 people in close proximity. We will soon announce any reschedulings or alternatives to Rice Business events of this size which were scheduled. At a minimum, no such event will take place on campus before April 30th. This change, too, helps keep everyone on campus safer and reduces the discomfort some may feel being on campus when such an event takes place. These two key changes, along with those regarding international travel and unnecessary domestic travel, will make the campus a safer place. 

Everyone on our campus should feel safe and be supported in making thoughtful decisions about their work while we are managing the risks of this health issue. For all who work at Rice Business, your safety is paramount. We have not and will not employ work policies that are unsafe for you. Please, contact your supervisor if you feel that you need an exception to our standard work policies. I ask that supervisors refer these requests to the Dean’s office and we will do our best to work out a solution as soon as possible. Some of you already have established suitable remote work procedures. Please use them as necessary and be sure to stay in close connection to your supervisor and business unit. 

Finally, I ask that you be patient and generous with each other as we all do our best to address and adapt to these recent decisions about our campus. 

Sincerely, 
Peter 

Message from Adam Herman, Executive Director of the Student Program Office, for Students:

Dear Rice Business students –

As we transition to 100% remote delivery of Rice Business courses, our top priorities are safeguarding you and your loved ones while continuing to ensure that your graduate business education is exceptional and effective.

This message is intended to share guidance and resources as you attend classes 100% online for the remainder of the semester:

  • A remote-delivery classroom is a classroom. Please make sure that you have a quiet place, free from distractions, where you can log on to Zoom with your own camera activated and a microphone on your device to actively participate as you would in an on-campus class setting.
  • You do not need a Zoom Pro license to connect to your scheduled class sessions. You simply need to access the link to the Zoom session from within your course’s Canvas site. These links are not yet available but will be soon. Thank you for your patience.
  • Zoom Best Practice Quick Guide
  • We will offer remote sessions of Zoom Best Practices, Tips and Tricks with Senior Associate Dean Barbara Ostdiek. The first two of these sessions will occur Sunday, March 15 at 1 p.m. and 4 p.m. The URL for these sessions will be posted to https://business.rice.edu/coronavirus no later than Sunday morning at 10AM. Additional sessions will be offered throughout the week ahead. 

Thanks for your patience and flexibility,
Adam

Message from Dean Peter Rodriguez for Students:

Dear Rice Business Student Community,

I’m writing to outline the new expectations as we return to classes on Monday, March 16th.

  • All courses will meet remotely. Attendance in on-campus classrooms will not be permitted.
  • Details on the remote access option for each course will be found via that course’s Canvas site.
  • Real-time attendance at the scheduled class time is required.
  • For urgent or time-sensitive questions about class delivery (not class content), please contact the appropriate program leader:
  • McNair Hall will remain open for students, faculty and staff. To support the goal of social distancing, we are not requiring any student presence in McNair Hall.

We will provide further information about Zoom in a following email.
 
Thank you again for your continued flexibility and patience as we work to ensure a safe and effective learning environment.
 
Best,
Peter

Message from Dean Peter Rodriguez:

Dear Members of the Rice Business Community, 

I write to follow up on the latest message from Rice regarding the decision to encourage remote delivery options for all courses where possible. We intend to have remote delivery capability for all courses and class sessions this semester. As of today, however, we will resume all classes on Monday, March 16th and continue our work to ensure all students can participate remotely wherever possible.  

By Friday, March 13, we will update you on the remote delivery options that will be available for each course. Some courses may employ a streaming option, whereby students can opt to attend classes on campus as usual or via a live video feed (e.g. Zoom). Other courses may move fully online and only use video conferencing for everyone in the course. Professors may also establish substitutes for in-person meetings, lectures or group activities by adapting course assignments to include more outside reading, writing or asynchronous classwork. No changes in course delivery will be made for the MBA@Rice program, apart from the April residential courses, which will either be rescheduled or adapted to online or hybrid delivery. 

Students: you will receive additional information regarding specific courses through the course Canvas site and general program information from the Student Program Office. 

Staff should direct work-related issues to Fabiola Currarino at Fabiola.Currarino@rice.edu.

In providing these options, we are doing all that we can to adopt responsible strategies consistent with public health recommendations to limit the spread of the coronavirus. Please note that we will still have some meetings and events on campus, provided that they adhere to Rice’s decision to limit large gatherings in confined spaces. Individual meetings and small group gatherings are allowed and will continue in many cases. 

We will continue to follow Rice’s policy regarding foreign travel: Anyone arriving from countries on the CDC’s level 2 and 3 warning lists must self-isolate and stay away from campus and student housing and have no physical contact with the Rice community for two weeks after returning to the U.S. This includes any students, faculty or staff traveling for personal reasons; all visitors; arriving new students; and arriving new employees.

These measures meet the CDC’s recommendations for higher education institutions and are meant to ensure the safety of all members of the Rice Business community — students, faculty, staff, alumni, and guests — and their families. 

Be patient, be nice and wash your hands, 
Peter 

Message from Dean Peter Rodriguez for Students, Staff and Faculty:

Dear Rice Business Community,

I write to follow up on the latest message from Rice regarding the decision to cancel ‘in-person’ classes for the week of March 9th. To clarify, this decision was not made because any more Rice students or personnel have been quarantined or tested positive for the coronavirus — they have not.  

One reason for this decision was to prepare more of the campus for remote class delivery, which will help to accommodate students who are ill, immunocompromised or uncomfortable attending class in these circumstances. Being better prepared for remote class delivery and other class options helps keep everyone safer. The ‘extra’ week of preparation allowed by the cancellation makes it more likely that we will be able to complete courses that are underway or soon to begin. Fortunately, Rice Business is prepared for remote delivery in many of our classrooms and we are quickly adding capacity. Students in most courses will soon receive instructions on how to access their remote class or what alternatives to in-person classes are being offered.  

Rice’s administration also announced the decision to eliminate activities that bring increased risk for the potential spread of the virus, namely, events with more than 100 people in close proximity. We will soon announce any reschedulings or alternatives to Rice Business events of this size which were scheduled. At a minimum, no such event will take place on campus before April 30th. This change, too, helps keep everyone on campus safer and reduces the discomfort some may feel being on campus when such an event takes place. These two key changes, along with those regarding international travel and unnecessary domestic travel, will make the campus a safer place. 

Everyone on our campus should feel safe and be supported in making thoughtful decisions about their work while we are managing the risks of this health issue. For all who work at Rice Business, your safety is paramount. We have not and will not employ work policies that are unsafe for you. Please, contact your supervisor if you feel that you need an exception to our standard work policies. I ask that supervisors refer these requests to the Dean’s office and we will do our best to work out a solution as soon as possible. Some of you already have established suitable remote work procedures. Please use them as necessary and be sure to stay in close connection to your supervisor and business unit. 

Finally, I ask that you be patient and generous with each other as we all do our best to address and adapt to these recent decisions about our campus. 

Sincerely, 
Peter 

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