A Snapshot of Professors at Rice

Author: Angie F., ’23

The snapshot of a stereotypical “professor” in my mind used to matched that of the movie clichés: strict, research-focused, and with lessons given at twice the speed of comprehension. However, looking back now after these first few months of university, the reality of faculty and staff here has created for me a new snapshot of professors. At Rice, professors care about students–about our passions, our goals, and our overall well-being. To share the remarkableness of Rice, I would love to highlight three professors who have personally impacted me throughout this semester. 

I first met Ms. Catherine Clack, or as most students affectionately know her as, “Lady Catherine” and “Lady C”, during my first week at Rice. Lady C presented on diversity as part of our entire matriculating class’ orientation week (O-Week), and it was in that same presentation that she mentioned the class she would be teaching in the fall, UNIV 110 Foundations for Self-Discovery and Lifelong Learning. Soon, in a combination of curiosity and impulse, I signed up for her class. Lady C guides us through discerning values, managing stress, identifying resources, and other similarly helpful lessons for the first-year college student. Lady C initially came to Rice because of a fitting job offer in the admissions office, and throughout the years, she has stayed as Rice opened new doors, including the founding of a multicultural affairs office. Now, Lady C serves as Associate Dean of Undergraduates and Director of Multicultural Affairs, along with her less formal but more significant role, as a caring mentor to all students. 

As a part of the university course curriculum, all freshmen must take a First-Year Writing Seminar (FWIS) class; my chosen FWIS, Mindfulness and Medicine, is a small class of only thirteen students and taught by Dr. Jade Hagan. This tiny classroom gave us all the chance to grow extremely close with one another, but more so, with Dr. Hagan. As a class, we discuss meaningful concepts and connections on a highly personable, comfortable level, which I had never before experienced within such an educational environment. Dr. Hagan shares that she first came to Rice for, among other reasons, “the strength of the environmental humanities programming in Rice’s English Department” and the opportunity to conduct environmental research in Houston’s unique economic climate. After her doctoral work, the department invited Dr. Hagan to teach, leading to an opportunity to share with students the interesting interconnectedness of environmental and health humanities. In the perfect depiction of Rice’s amazing faculty, Dr. Hagan notes about her experience, “my students continue to inspire me to not only push them to exceed their own expectations, but also to push myself to create courses and conduct research that exceed my own ideas of what’s possible,” communicating the immensely positive student-professor interaction here at Rice. 

The first day I walked into Business Communications, our professor introduced herself, to my surprise, as Lydia. Immediately, I felt a rare connection, one that was personal and not present in most of my other relationships with teachers or authority figures. This kind of interaction proves so meaningful, and Lydia is the only teacher I have ever directly and openly messaged with questions. Throughout class, she delivers impactful messages while also sharing with us contextualized advice and the occasional humorous story. When I asked Lydia to share with me what brought her to Rice and why she chose to teach here, she emphasized the rich intellectual environment that Rice holds, as well as the unique unparalleled opportunity that professing provides. Through her own experiences and relationships, Lydia is able to guide and connect students with passionate goals towards tangible results, and therefore, truly change the trajectory of a student’s life in the direction of positive progress.  

I am so grateful to all of my professors, both the ones who are included in this article as well as the ones who are not. Although this is just a snapshot of campus faculty and staff, Rice is full of phenomenal professors like these three. The phenomenality of professors here mirrors in the general phenomenality of people at Rice, and I can say with certainty that I love this university.