Rice University announces student body expansion

HOUSTON, Texas -- Rice University will be enlarging its undergraduate student body by the fall of 2025.

The university's board of trustees approved a plan to welcome 20% more students, bringing undergraduate enrollment to 4,800.

To accommodate the growth, Rice University will open a 12th residential college as well as expand the number of students living on campus by about one-third, to 3,525. The announcement comes as the university expects its total enrollment to grow to approximately 9,000 within that same period.

The plan comes after the university experienced a roughly 35% increase in undergraduate enrollment between fall 2005 and 2013 as well as enlargement in graduate programs. With the upcoming expansion, the university's student body will have grown by 80% over the last two decades.

"Rice's extraordinary applicant pool has grown dramatically despite the challenges posed by the pandemic," President David Leebron said in a March 30 news release. "With the previous expansion we greatly increased our national and international student applications, enrollment and visibility. We also dramatically increased diversity on our campus, and we were able to extend the benefits of a Rice education to many more students. As before, we must undertake this expansion carefully in order to assure that we retain the best aspects of Rice culture, student experience and sense of community."

The approved plan comes amid a 75% growth in the number of students applying to Rice University over the last four years.

Under the plan, the total number of degree-seeking undergraduates will scale up annually for five years, from just over 4,000 in fall 2020 to 4,800 in fall 2025. To accommodate the increased number of students, the number of full-time instructional faculty is expected to increase by nearly 50 by fall 2025. Rice's undergraduate student-faculty ratio would remain roughly the same-about six undergraduate students for every faculty member.

New construction on the campus will supplement the expanded student body, including a new engineering building, a new building for the visual and dramatic arts, an additional residential college and an expanded student center. In the first quarter of next year, the university will break ground on a new student center that will largely replace the Rice Memorial Center familiar to generations of Rice students and alumni.