Rice University introduces Reginald DesRoches as 8th President

DesRoches has been the university’s rector since 2020. Next summer, he will replace president David Leebron.

HOUSTON – Rice University has introduced its next president.

Earlier this month, the university named Reginald DesRoches as its next president. He will become the eighth president in the history of the university when he takes office next summer.

RELATED: Rice University Names Reginald DesRoches As Next President

DesRoches is currently the university’s rector.

DesRoches will succeed President David Leebron, who has announced his intention to step down next summer after the end of the current academic year.

“I am deeply honored to be named the next president of Rice University,” said DesRoches. “The past 4 1/2 years at Rice have been some of the most rewarding of my professional career and I look forward to building on the tradition of excellence established by President Leebron and those who served before him.

DesRoches is described by the university as an internationally renowned structural engineer and expert in earthquake resilience.

“I am delighted to continue to work with the university’s outstanding faculty, students, staff, alumni and community partners to increase the visibility and impact of our research and dedication to the common good,” DesRoches said. “I look forward to maintaining our commitment to excellence in undergraduate and graduate studies and our core values ​​of diversity, equity and inclusion. I firmly believe that Rice is ready and well positioned to reach even greater heights of impact and excellence.

DesRoches has been with Rice since 2017, when he accepted the position of William and Stephanie Sick Dean of Engineering at the George R. Brown School of Engineering. As director of the Rice School of Engineering, he oversaw nine departments, 137 professors and 2,500 students. During his tenure as dean, the school increased in size, visibility and ranking of programs, according to the university.

According to a statement sent by Rice, DesRoches has been provost since Leebron appointed him academic director of the university in 2020. As provost, he has led the academic, research, academic and creative activities of the university through the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, including the sudden suspension of classroom instruction and Rice’s successful conversion to distance learning. In less than two years, he not only dramatically increased the university’s research grants and launched several new centers and institutes, but also forged new partnerships and programs with institutions and organizations throughout the Houston area, including the Texas Medical Center.

“Reggie DesRoches is an exceptional choice as Rice’s next president,” Leebron said. “I have had the privilege of working closely with Reggie over the past 4 1/2 years, first as Dean of Engineering and then as Marshal, and have seen firsthand extraordinary leadership, values, thoughtfulness and ambition for Rice. I have no doubts that he will fully realize the aspirations of our “Be Bold” campaign and take Rice to new heights of success and impact. “

He said he received around 1,500 congratulatory emails, including from older people who told him they remembered when Rice first admitted black students in 1964.

“When they were of age, they couldn’t come to Rice. And to see someone who looks like them, who is going to be president, was moving for them, ”he said.

DesRoches cried at the official announcement. He said he was thinking of his parents.

“You think of all the sacrifices they made and how hard I worked to try to honor everything they did for us and to hear this announcement officially was touching,” he said. .

One of its goals, he said, is to focus on growing research businesses, expanding graduate programs and diversifying faculty.

History before rice

Born in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, DesRoches grew up in the Queens neighborhood of New York. He is the youngest of the four children of Haitian immigrants.

A childhood love for science and mathematics encouraged him to pursue studies in mechanical engineering.

While studying at the University of California at Berkeley, DesRoches witnessed the damage caused by the historic Loma Prieta earthquake in 1989. This experience led him to focus on earthquake resilience then that he was pursuing his master’s and doctorate. structural engineering degrees at Berkeley.

Prior to his appointment to Rice, DesRoches was President of the School of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Georgia Tech in Atlanta. As president, he led a major renovation of the school’s main research and teaching house, and he led a major fundraising effort for the school that doubled the number of chairs and endowed teachers. During his tenure, the engineering school’s US News & World Report graduate ranking rose dramatically, reaching No. 2 in the country, the highest in the school’s history.

DesRoches’ wife Paula is director of employee health and occupational medicine at Houston Methodist. They have three children: Andrew, Jacob and Shelby. Their daughter, Shelby, is a student of Rice in the Class of ’23.

Now 54, DesRoches and his wife have three college-aged children, including a bioengineering student at Rice.

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