Caleb McDaniel: A Culture of Care

As associate professor of history and Duncan College magister, Caleb McDaniel is uniquely positioned to understand how issues of affordability in higher education affect student life. We sat down with him to discuss his perspective on financial aid, student concerns and The Rice Investment.

What does your role as magister entail?
The magister of each college is a tenured faculty member who resides in the college with his or her family. In that role, we provide support to our students in a range of ways — from personal mentorship and help in times of crisis to extracurricular academic advice and social programming designed to enrich the education of Rice students.

Can you speak to student concerns about the affordability of higher education? In other words, how much do financial issues affect your students on a day-to-day basis?
College affordability is one of the biggest issues facing our students, and I have seen firsthand how concerns about affordability shape student decisions about everything from courses and majors to summer plans. When students struggle to afford college, they understandably focus their education on the question of how to ensure that they finish quickly and with a major that will secure them a high-paying job. This is a good question to ask, but it is a difficult one to answer when students, who are already in financial straits, are facing down bills. It is difficult to get a 10,000-foot view of one’s life and passions when weighed down with concerns about how to pay for everything.

During my time at Rice, I have seen students decide to graduate as much as a full year early because of financial concerns about paying for a fourth year. I have seen other students reluctant to follow their passions and interests into a new field of study or a study abroad program out of a concern that this would add even one additional semester of costs to the burden of paying for college. And of course, even then I am only seeing the students who could afford to come to Rice in the first place.

What was your reaction to the announcement of The Rice Investment?
The Rice Investment makes me prouder than ever to work at Rice University.

How do you see The Rice Investment affecting current and future Duncan students?
Duncan students pride themselves on maintaining Rice University’s culture of care. To me that is what The Rice Investment is also about — taking care of all of our students and providing them with all the benefits that a Rice education and the college system have to offer.

Learn more about how you can support The Rice Investment. Visit


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