A statue memorializing Rice University’s founder will soon be relocated after years of complaints from students who said the school needed to examine its own history of racism.
The statue of William Marsh Rice currently sits in the middle of the campus’ Academic Quadrangle, but will now be moved to a new location with added historical context and information about the school’s founder — including the fact that he owned at least 15 slaves.
University officials plan to erect a new monument to commemorate the beginning of the school’s integration in the 1960s. The design process will begin this spring and a proposed design will be presented to trustees in May.
“We intend for the Academic Quadrangle to both fully acknowledge the history of our founding and founder, and to mark and celebrate the important evolution and growth of our university over time,” said Rob Ladd, chairman of the Board of Trustees. “We believe the redesign will allow us to move forward as a community.”
William Marsh Rice chartered the university in 1891 exclusively for white students — a policy that remained in place until 1965. The school also briefly allowed for the creation of a Ku Klux Klan student chapter and permitted blackface social gatherings.
Students of color have since pushed back against inequity that’s embedded within Rice’s past and have advocated for the statue’s removal.
One of those students, Kendall Vining, said the statue’s relocation was a good first step, but long overdue.
“It has been frustrating to wait so long for this, since we have been calling for this for a while now, so I think it’s somewhat of a relief to know that action will be taken,” Vining said. “I look forward to visiting the quad at Rice as an alum and seeing the decentralization of the statue. Maybe some day I’ll visit the quad and won’t see the statue at all.”