Rice University. William Marsh Rice (1816-1900) came to Texas in 1838 and through extensive entrepreneurship became one of the state's wealthiest men. Rice envisioned a polytechnic school as his philanthropic legacy. The State of Texas chartered the William M. Rice Institute for the Advancement of Literature, Science and Art on May 19, 1891. Rice delayed the project by stipulating that it open after his death. When he died under suspicious circumstances, investigations and legal struggles jeopardized the school's future. After his estate was settled, development began for the first university in Houston. Trustees had a multi-million dollar endowment but little experience in education. The first president, Dr. Edgar Odell Lovett of Princeton University, spent months visiting experts around the world. His experiences helped him broaden Rice's vision to a university uniting teaching and research. In 1909, the Boston firm of Cram, Goodhue and Ferguson developed the campus plan, combining classically-inspired architecture with Mediterranean influences. On Sep. 23, 1912, classes opened with 59 young men and women and four buildings. Rice was a charter athletic member of the Southwest Conference (1914) and quickly achieved academic accreditation, with the first class graduating in 1916. Two world wars and the Great Depression slowed growth. In 1945, trustees broadened the curriculum and initiated a substantial building program. Renamed Rice University in 1960, the school has hosted presidential visits, including John F. Kennedy's in 1962 when he urged the nation's space program to explore the moon by the end of the decade. Rice boasts many distinguished alumni and faculty, including Nobel and Pulitzer Prize recipients. In 2012 Rice University embarked on its second century of producing "leaders across the spectrum of human endeavor." 175 Years of Texas Independence * 1836-2011 #17005