Rice University
A statue of the founder of Rice University, who was a slaveowner, is being moved to a less prominent location in the school's Academic Quadrangle.

Profiles May-June 2023

June 8, 2023
Rice redesign, Palm Beach security, Utah lawsuit.

Redesign at Rice University will move founder’s statue to a less prominent spot

Rice University in Houston has embarked on a redesign of its Academic Quadrangle that will move a statue of the university’s founder to a less prominent location.

The university says in a news release that changes to the Academic Quadrangle were necessary because it includes a statue of the university’s founder, William Marsh Rice, who was a slave owner.

The university describes the Quadrangle as the architectural centerpiece of the campus.

In 2021, the university’s Task Force on Slavery, Segregation and Racial Injustice recommended that the Quadrangle “can and must be significantly redesigned to reflect more accurately Rice’s values, the history of the university, and the current diversity of the campus, and in a way that clearly and visibly rebukes the institution’s segregationist founding and decades of racial exclusion.”

Design plans call for moving the statue of William Marsh Rice from its limestone pedestal at the center of the Academic Quadrangle to a less prominent spot within the Quad. The redesign will also seek to add trees for shade and protection from the sun, and spaces for outdoor instruction, gathering, performance, and study.

In addition to moving the Founder’s Memorial statue, the university will place artwork in the redesigned Quad landscape that celebrates the beginning of integration at Rice.

Palm Beach County (Fla.) district is buying metal detectors for all high schools

The Palm Beach County (Fla.) school board has approved a $2.25 million contract to acquire metal detectors for the entrances of all 23 of its high schools.

The Palm Beach Post reports that the board approved the contract even though the district has yet to begin a pilot project that calls for installing metal detectors in four schools.

Superintendent Mike Burke told the board that the contract would lock in the price for the districtwide metal detectors, but it wouldn't require the district to buy the equipment until school board was sure it wanted to.

The pilot project at the four high schools would help the district determine if scanning up to 3,000 students would cause delays at the start of the school day.

The district had hoped to run the pilot program this spring, but supply-chain issues have pushed back delivery of the equipment.

Utah district sued over possible school closings

A group of parents has sued the Alpine (Utah) School District to block the possible closing of five elementary schools.

KSL.com reports that the lawsuit argues that the district hasn't followed the law as it explores the possibility of closing Lehi, Valley View, Lindon, Windsor and Sharon elementary schools.

The parents say the district has not followed the spirit or the letter of Utah law for school closures and boundary changes, which requires parents and leaders of affected cities be given a 120-day notice to allow for study and comment.

During a November board meeting after a $595 million bond election failed, the board requested a districtwide boundary study to explore possibilities around restructuring or consolidating boundaries and evaluating school buildings for potential closure.

In March, the district sent an email to parents and city mayors, councils and administrators, notifying them that the five elementary schools were being considered for closure or boundary adjustments.

However, the lawsuit contends that at a Feb. 28 board meeting, the board in effect voted to close the five elementary schools and carry out the associated boundary and program changes.

District officials say the vote didn't decide the fate of the five schools but, instead, a vote to move into the formal study process. They maintain that no final decision has been made regarding closings. A final decision likely won't come until the end of June.

About the Author

Mike Kennedy | Senior Editor

Mike Kennedy, senior editor, has written for AS&U on a wide range of educational issues since 1999.

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