At most universities, the word "college" refers to the entire institution, to the undergraduate programs, or to a particular academic division. At Rice, "college" is a way of life. Rice's residential college system lies at the core of every under-graduate's experience.
Every undergraduate student, whether living on campus or not, is a member of one of nine coeducational residential colleges, each of which is self-governed. Each college has a college master or masters, one of whom must be a member of the Rice faculty, who live in a house adjacent to the college, usually with their family.
The masters, whose authority derives from the president of the university, have the overall responsibility for all aspects of student life in the college, including encouragement of broad cultural and intellectual interests, caring for the well-being of the self and others, and effective self-government within the college. Other members of the faculty are invited, upon agreement of the student members and the masters, to become resident and nonresident associates of the college.
associates act as advisors to the students and participate in
the camaraderie and activities of the college. Colleges also
have nonfaculty university associates and community associates
from the Houston area, drawn from various professions.
Undergraduate life at Rice University differs from that at many universities because of Rice's tradition of residential colleges. One of the unique features of Rice is its residential colleges. Before matriculating, each of the university's 2,800 undergraduates becomes a member of one of nine residential colleges, which have their own dining halls, public rooms, and dorms on campus; most of the first-year students and about 75 percent of all undergraduates reside at their associated colleges.
Because each student is randomly assigned to one of the colleges, and maintains membership in the same college throughout the undergraduate years, the colleges are enriched by the diversity of their students' backgrounds, academic interests and experiences, talents, and goals.
A faculty master, who is assigned to each college and lives in an adjacent house, helps cultivate a variety of cultural and intellectual interests among the students, as well as supporting an effective system of self-government. Other faculty or members of the community serve as associates to individual colleges.
The experience of college residence is indispensable to conveying the rich flavor of academic life at Rice, allowing students to combine their usual studies with an array of social events, intramural sports, student plays, lecture series, innovative college-designed courses, and an active role in student government.