About the Program


The residential college system was started in 1957, almost a half century after the founding of the University. In 2007, Rice celebrated its 50th anniversary of the residential college system, and in 2010, 2 new colleges were founded (McMurtry and Duncan). Edgar Odell Lovett, Rice University’s first president, envisioned the residential colleges and the Associate’s Program as integral to the University, and his statue was unveiled during the Rice Centennial in 2012.

In this…residential hall students and staff are already living in a common society a common life under conditions the most democratic. They sit at a common table; they lounge in common club-rooms; they frequent the same cloisters; in games they meet upon the same playing fields…Every college in the country contends that it has the spirit of true democracy; the only difference, if any, is that here we do have it. — Edgar Odell Lovett

What is an Associate?

College Associates are faculty, staff, and community members who are a vital part of the residential college and are committed to engaging, mentoring, and serving as a resource for students as well as each other. Associates get involved in the college in a wide variety of ways, ranging from casual meals, sporting events, and social gatherings, to lectures, career panels, and theatrical performances – to name a few, all with the goal of enriching intellectual, cultural, and social life. There is no prescription for how associates contribute to the college because each associate brings a unique set of experiences and perspectives.

Benefits of Association

There are numerous benefits of being associated with a residential college. Associates are immediately part of a 300-450 person community of incredibly diverse, talented, and caring individuals ranging from first year students to emeritus faculty members. Each college has magisters, resident associates (RAs), a college coordinator, an amazing group of student leaders, and other associates from across campus, all of whom are committed to the intellectual, cultural, and social life of the college. However, the most rewarding part of being an associate is the opportunity to meaningfully engage with and mentor our amazing students. New associates are typically astounded by the wide range of ways to do so through residential college activities, but Associates are encouraged to bring new ideas to the community as well. The most seamless way for associates to remain engaged in the community is to visit the college for lunch and enjoy casual conversations. Lunch meals are free for associates, so staying involved is easy. Associates are also invited to two Associates Nights, one in the fall and one in the spring, to thank the associates for their involvement, and Outstanding and Distinguished Associates are invited to the President’s House for a reception in the spring.

Getting Involved

There are many ways to get involved as an Associate in a residential college because “intellectual, cultural and social life” covers a wide variety of initiatives, events, and day to day interactions. One of the best ways for faculty and staff Associates to get involved is to serve as an Associate to a small group of new students starting in Orientation Week (O-Week). Other ways to get involved in a college include asking for a calendar of events or sharing some of your ideas with the college leadership (magisters, RAs, college coordinator, student leadership, other associates). In a residential college community, there are always members who will share your interests and join in a new initiative.