Steve and I journeyed to Houston November 12 – 15 for his Class of ’65 Golden Reunion. It was also our son David’s 20th Reunion and we enjoyed spending time with him and his Rice roommate Bill Breslin. Rice University keeps getting better and better–more art, more music, and more smiling students. When we entered Rice, virtually all students were white; one third were from Houston, another third from Texas, and the rest from elsewhere in the US. The class entering in 2014 was 36% white, 26% Asian, 12% Hispanic, 8% black, and 12% international, any race. The share of women freshmen has risen from 20% in 1962 to 50%!
Homecoming featured many activities. Here’s what I most enjoyed:
dinner at Ouisie’s Table with cousin Jay Collins (’69 and a current Rice Board member), his wife Maxann; brother-in-law Joe Simmons (’66); and long-time friends Patti (’66) and Richard Everett (’67), with music by Iraqi piano player Adam Yaqot.
- coffee with Joe and Songying Fang, a newly tenured Professor of Political Science, who joined our table at the Brochstein Pavilion. She told us about research she had conducted in her native China indicating that public opinion indeed matters in an autocratic state. When I asked her about Chinese threats in the South China Sea, she countered that modern Chinese are grateful for peace and wary of military conflict. Dr. Fang followed up with recommendations for further study on China. One was new to me, a Munk Debate on China.
- a lecture by Richard Lavenda, Professor of Composition and Theory at Rice’s Shepherd School of Music, on how to be a more active listener. His advice proved helpful for the opera Lulu by Alban Berg that I saw yesterday Live in HD from the Met.
- a gala dinner with Steve’s classmates at Cohen House Faculty Club, where a committee Steve co-chaired announced a Reunion Gift to Rice totaling $3,224,780. Helen Toombs (’79) and the Development Office staff did a great job of making everyone feel welcome and celebrated. No long program, just time with old friends like these
breakfast with David and my niece Kate Kirkpatrick and her husband Willy Golden. Kate had just finished an all-night shift as an oncology nurse at M.D. Anderson at the Texas Medical Center across Main street from Rice. Her father/my brother Joel (Rice ’58) was a neuropathologist at the Center from 1983 – 1999.
- great Texas barbecue by Goode and Co. at the tailgate prior to the football game. I was visiting with Dong Tran (’96) and his family when David’s classmate Jim Arteaga recognized Dong from San Antonio, so a group of David’s friends came over and joined us. I love spontaneous intersections like that (see the art installation “Intersections” below).
- the Rice Owls played Southern Mississippi in football and lost, but I chose to attend a concert of chamber music by Shepherd School students who had researched “Diamonds in the Rough,” seldom-heard, but worthy works. I heard quintets by Enrique Granados, Ralph Vaughan Williams, and Ernö Dohnányi. My favorite was Brahms’ Piano Quartet in C Minor, Op. 60, played so very beautifully by Jae-Won Bang, violin, Randy Zhen, viola, Jacob Hanegan, cello and Xiting Yang, piano.
- at an informal dinner at President Leebron’s house we talked with old friend Geoff Winningham (’65) and his wife Janice Freeman. Janice is an artist. Geoff is now Professor of Photography and Chair of the Visual and Dramatic Arts Department at Rice. It was interesting to hear how he came around to digital photography several years ago. Jim Crownover was there with his wife Molly. Jim has served Rice as Chairman of the Board and masterful fund-raiser. A video he made about talking to classmates about money inspired me to get involved with my class’s efforts. He also helped me sharpen the remarks I was to give at Brown College. Here are more photos of the Class of ’65
- Steve and I loved getting to see “Intersections” by Pakistani-American Anila Quayyum Agha at the Rice Gallery. The student docent who guided us was majoring in cognitive science.
- We visited the Biomedical Research Collaborative, a joint venture of Rice and the Texas Medical Center and saw more art.