Rice University
Rice Quad 6436f55651c7d

Redesign of quadrangle at Rice University will move statue of founder to a less prominent location

April 12, 2023
William Marsh Rice, who founded the Houston school, was a slave owner.

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 it determined 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 recent years, it has served as the site of commencement ceremonies.

In 2021, the university’s Task Force on Slavery, Segregation and Racial Injustice unanimously 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 rebukesthe institution’s segregationist founding and decades of racial exclusion.

University President Reginald DesRoches said, “Rice and the Board of Trustees worked diligently to honor all of the viewpoints expressed by the university community during those conversations, while also being mindful of the need for bold change.”

The design selected by the university’s Board of Trustees seeks to "enrich student experience, foster inclusivity and celebrate Rice’s evolution and values while respectfully recognizing Rice’s founding gift," the university says.

The landscape architect for the redesign is Nelson Byrd Woltz. The firm’s plan calls 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 within the quadrangle, Nelson Byrd Woltz says it will place a new major artwork in the redesigned Quad landscape, one that celebrates the beginning of integration at Rice.

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