The Initiative for Students Impact Report

Thank you for supporting Rice students

The Initiative for Students has truly enhanced how our students learn, primarily by expanding their education to include more experiential opportunities that reinforce their work in the classroom. Central to the success of this effort has been the ability of our alumni, parents and friends to offer these experiences themselves.

Read President Leebron's entire message >>

The New Rice Experience

In 2015, university leadership and students coalesced around a vision of Rice education that enhances knowledge gained in the classroom with experiential learning, professional development, leadership training and entrepreneurship opportunities. The Initiative for Students responded to this call, launching experiential learning programs that prepare students with the skills they will need to thrive, while engaging alumni, parents and friends to support students as never before.

In three years, the Initiative for Students has created meaningful progress in nearly every aspect of the student experience. It has fostered impactful connections between students, alumni, parents and friends and launched programs that enrich our highly ranked teaching and learning environment. In short, Rice students now have access to more opportunities than ever before.

Student Stories

For these students, alumni support through the Initiative for Students led to powerful experiential opportunities.

Entrepreneurial programs helped Phil prepare for a life in startups.

Rice Football player and engineering major Darik Dillard '16 shares how scholarship support inspired excellence.

Sallyportal enabled a connection between Manuel and an alumni mentor.

The Owl Edge Experience Fund provided Madeleine with a perspective-changing summer design internship in London.

Initiative Success

The Initiative for Students has driven progress in four key areas: professional development, the Sallyportal network, leadership and entrepreneurship.

Professional development

For Rice students, the right professional experience at the right time can open a world of career possibilities. From an informative conversation with an alumni mentor during a one-day externship to a summer internship in a newfound career area, these experiences set students on the path to long-term success. 

The Owl Edge Externship program, launched through the Initiative, will continue to offer job-shadowing for hosts and students in partnership with Rice’s Center for Career Development (CCD). The CCD has been a vital partner in the launch and success of these programs.


Sallyportal, Rice's online professional development hub, launched on October 12, 2016, as a powerful tool to connect students and alumni, parents and friends around their professional goals. Since the launch, thousands of Rice network members from every school and hundreds of companies across industries have shared messages and made connections.

Sallyportal has over 6,300 users as of June 1, 2017

*Data as of June 1, 2017, with new users signing up every day!

The Doerr Institute for New Leaders

The Doerr Institute for New Leaders launched in 2015 to transform how students are developed as leaders at Rice and beyond. This co-curricular institute, made possible through a generous gift from John ’73 and Ann ’75 Doerr, provides every Rice student the chance to take part in a compelling, professionally executed leader development experience.

By preparing students from every school and every background to achieve their goals, the Doerr Institute elevates the leadership capacity of Rice students across the university.

Graphic: The Doerr Institute for New Leaders prepared more than 940 students with leadership training and skills in its first year.

Lilie: The Liu Idea Lab for Innovation and Entrepreneurship

Entrepreneurial students crave opportunities to problem-solve, work in teams, exercise creativity and innovate. Frank Liu '78 and his family, through the Frank and Cindy Liu Family Foundation, made a gift to launch Lilie (the Liu Idea Lab for Innovation and Entrepreneurship), a central hub on campus where undergraduate students can pursue entrepreneurship opportunities and find experiences that bridge Rice and the broader business community.

In late 2017, Lilie will open a collaborative space where students, alumni and members of the business community can bring ideas to life.

More than 700 students took part in entrepreneurship courses and activities through Lilie.

Volunteers Lead the Way

Rice is grateful to the many volunteers who served in a variety of roles and gave their time, talent and energy to support the goals of the Initiative for Students. You strengthened the Rice network and provided students with opportunities like never before. Thank you!

Alumni, parents and friends of the university served as professional mentors, externship hosts, regional participants and more through the Initiative for Students.

For more ways you can get involved and volunteer in support of students and Rice, please visit

To our volunteer leaders...thank you!

Members of the Initiative for Students Cabinet and Commission, as well as event hosts who helped to share the Initiative far beyond campus, have been invaluable partners in launching new programs and enhancing the student experience.

Cabinet brings passionate volunteer leadership

Cabinet brings passionate volunteer leadership

The dedicated volunteers of the Initiative for Students Cabinet provided critical strategic input around Initiative priorities. Click here to view members of the Cabinet representing Rice alumni, parents and friends with vision and passion.

At left, Cabinet chair Charley Landgraf '75 (left) accepts an award of recognition from President David W. Leebron.

Commission Offers inspired insight

Commission Offers inspired insight

Members of the Initiative for Students Commission, including students, alumni, parents, faculty, staff and friends, provided guidance and insight that led to the success of key Initiative priorities, including the Owl Edge Externship program and Sallyportal. Click here to view members of the Commission.

At left: Members of the Initiative for Students Commission in April 2017. 

Event hosts help share student and faculty impact

Event hosts help share student and faculty impact

Alumni, parents and friends across the U.S. hosted events that brought together Rice communities to build excitement for the Rice student experience and the Initiative. Click here to see a list of these generous hosts and engaged host committee members.

Pictured left: President David Leebron speaks at an event in West Houston hosted by Carolyn and Jay '80 Kaplan. 

Cabinet brings passionate volunteer leadership

Commission Offers inspired insight

Event hosts help share student and faculty impact