Rice Business Facilities McNair Hall

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,

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