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1940's

1940
Louis Girard writes the "Rice Fight Song."
1941
In April, troubled by the institute's financial position, Captain Baker recommends to the trustees that the charter be amended to allow Rice to charge tuition. The board agrees, but a sequence of events prevents the filing of the necessary suit to alter the carter. First, on April 23, the board has to file a renewal of the charter. Second, on May 14, Edgar Odell Lovett resigns as president, although he agrees to stay on until a successor can be found. And third, on August 1, Captain Baker, the only chair the Rice Board of Trustees has known, dies. But tuition becomes, for the time being, a moot point when oil is discovered on the Rice lands in Louisiana that were part of the original endowment.
1941
Due to World War II, campus life is disrupted academically and socially in July 1943. Naval ROTC is established, and approximately 200 naval trainees are quartered on campus, outnumbering civilian men two to one; no civilian men live on campus. (Civilians lived on campus through May of 1943) Rice goes on the navy's schedule, holding classes year-round and adhering to navy-prescribed curricula and campus routines.
1941
The May Fete is held for the last time.
1941
The Engineering Society is disbanded after its hazing practices get out of control. Sometime between March 1944 and June 1946 the Engineering Society was abolished and was later revived in 1946 under strict faculty regulations and guidance only to expire again after the Spring of 1947.
1942
Rice announces its plan to permit male seniors to graduate early if they enter the armed forces. Classes are accelerated, senior men attend summer school, and the 1942-43 academic year ends early, allowing the students to complete their degree requirements in February 1943.
1942
Rice buys into the Rincon Oil field in Starr Country, Texas. The investment of $1 million (50 percent supplied by the institute and 50 percent by friends of Rice) will make Rice $35 million richer by 1978.
1943
In January, George R. Brown '20, partner in Brown & Root, becomes the first Rice alumnus elected to the Board of Trustees.
1945
The trustees devise a 10-year plan to meet new goals for Rice. In preparing this plan, the trustees analyze the institute's past developments, present status, and future outlook. This analysis shows that Rice is not simply the engineering school many think it is. Between 1929 and 1943, 49 percent of students had been registered in the liberal arts school (which included the pure sciences and mathematics), 33.7 percent in engineering and architecture, and remaining 17 percent in physical education, premedical, and graduate programs. The foremost objective of the trustees' plan follows Lovett's original intentions to provide especially good training for a limited number of students through a sound basic program that sets a high standard of scholarship and provides leadership in higher education. Faculty will be increased, and the curriculum will be further developed, with expansion in the arts and letters, through the emphasis will remain on science and research. The trustees also call for a substantial building program, including plans for a library, classrooms, laboratories, residence halls, and a house for the president.
1945
Sallyport, the alumni and university magazine, begins life as a four-page newsprint tabloid.
1946
After 25 years of all-male cheerleading, or "yell leading," Betty Jean "Foxie" Fox is elected the first female yell leader.
1946
RI replaces the Rice Owl as the university literary magazine.
1946
Under Jess Neely, Owls tied with Arkansas for Southwest Conference title.
1947
Rondelet, a spring festival, replaces May Fete.
1947
"Freshman Guidance," a semihazing program, begins. Freshmen must, for example, wear beanies and red suspenders, and they are not allowed to cut their hair until Thanksgiving.
1947
The Sarah Lane Literary Society is established.
1947
The Administration Building is renamed Lovett Hall in honor of Rice's first president, Edgar Odell Lovett.
1947
The admission process also receives attention with the establishment of requirements beyond an excellent high school academic record. Personal and mental qualifications will now be considered, and applicants have to take and entrance examination, provide letters of recommendation, and have personal interviews with a member of the Admission Committee.
1947
With Houston come many changes, not the least of which is a revamping of the curriculum, which has remained virtually untouched since its original formulation and still does not provide for the modern concept of the "major." To keep in step with developments at other major universities, to broaden the curriculum, and to give students more experiences that will prepare them for the outside world and for graduate school, formal academic programs are established. These are broken into two main areas, academics and science/engineering, each having its own required core courses. Students take courses that, for the first two years, are designed to emphasize basic skills in English, mathematics, history, and science. At that time, they will declare a major and will begin taking courses in their specialization.
1947
William Vermillion Houston, former professor of physics at the California Institute of Technology, is inaugurated as the second president of Rice on April 10.
1947
Anderson Hall is the first building completed in the postwar building program. It is named for M. D. Anderson, whose foundation had helped Rice purchase the Rincon Oil Field.
1947
Additional graduate student enrollment is encouraged, in part using stipends as incentive, but entry requirements are becoming more stringent. For the first time, candidates are advised to take the Graduate Record Exam, with high scoring candidates given preference. There is also a plan to increase the number of faculty, but President Houston insists that candidates possess two characteristics that echo a tradition set by President Lovett: They must be outstanding scholars who publish or who are involved in research, and they must be inspiring teachers.
1948
The Honor System, weakened during the war years and their disruptive effect on campus life in general, is reinstitutedˇ§Cproctoring is banned, alternate seats are used for exams, and students are allowed to leave the room solely for personal reasons. The Honor Code pledge and student signature are still required.
1948
Abercrombie Engineering Lab is completed. It is named in honor of donor James S. Abercrombie and his wife, Lillie, and their daughter, Josephine.
1948
A job placement service for students is established.
1949
Rice wins the Southwest Conference football championship with a season record of 10-1, defeating North Carolina in the Cotton Bowl.
1949
Hazing returns with Hell Week, a rivalry between freshmen and sophomores that occupies the seven days leading up to the sophomore dance.
1949
Fondren Library, named for oilman W. W. Fondren and his wife, Ella, opens, as does Wiess Hall, named in honor of oilman and Rice trustee Harry C. Wiess.
1949
The President's House (later to be renamed O'Connor House for trustee Ralph S. O'Connor) is built.