Rice Business Facilities McNair Hall

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.


Learn More About Crisis Management

After Harvey, some companies gouged prices and others volunteered their space. How companies react during disasters stems from the moral views of firm decision-makers.
During a crisis, outsiders view leaders who only show no sadness, only anger as less effective as research by Rice Business professor D. Brent Smith shows.
Chronic loneliness could lead people to self-sabotage when reaching out to others, making loneliness a self-perpetuating—and painful—cycle.
Rice Business Professor Anastasiya Zavyalova explains why pre-existing moral codes are essential for companies in crisis.
Delivery-based grocery shopping is growing, but the online future of grocery shopping might be overhyped, as Rice Business professor Scott Sonenshein explains.