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First president of Rice Institute retires

March
01
1946

On this day in 1946, Edgar Odell Lovett retired as president of Rice Institute (now Rice University) in Houston. Rice Institute was chartered in 1891 by William Marsh Rice with a $200,000 note payable upon his death. The original charter very generally prescribed an institution "dedicated to the advancement of literature, science, and art." The board of trustees in Houston determined that it would be a university and in 1907 appointed Lovett, a mathematician and astronomer at Princeton University, as president. The institute's opening in 1912 was marked by an elaborate international convocation of scholars. From the beginning Lovett intended Rice to be a university "of the highest grade." Under his direction Rice Institute first developed major strength in the sciences and engineering, though distinguished instruction was offered from the beginning in the humanities and architecture. The curriculum broadened and the faculty increased greatly in size under the administration of Lovett's successor, physicist William V. Houston, and the school's name was changed to Rice University in 1960. After his retirement Lovett continued his association with the university as president emeritus, director, and consultant.

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