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The Call to Conversation Process

The Call to Conversation, a document outlining the fundamental questions facing Rice University , 1 began to take shape after preliminary consultations last winter and spring with trustees, deans, vice presidents, department chairs, members of the Faculty Senate , the executive committee of the Association of Rice Alumni , the Staff Advisory Committee , and the presidents of the Graduate Student Association and the Student Association . These initial conversations proved to be immensely helpful in shaping and elaborating the document for broader distribution.

On June 30, 2005, President David W. Leebron released the Call to Conversation to the entire Rice community and asked all constituencies to participate in developing a vision for the university's future. In more than 100 meetings, forums, and events during the last four months, President Leebron has discussed the document with faculty, staff, graduate students, undergraduates, alumni, and Houston community leaders. The Call to Conversation has created a sustained and vibrant dialogue about the university's future and priorities as preparations begin to mark Rice's second century.

To supplement these meetings and events, the Call to Conversation website provided a straightforward and inclusive mechanism for individual commentary and feedback. Through more than 1,450 logins to the site, Rice alumni, students, staff, and faculty shared their comments, concerns, reactions, and ideas. Undergraduate students and alumni made the greatest use of the website, and the topic receiving the most comment was-perhaps unsurprisingly-the size of the university.

The website submissions truly were remarkable both in volume-162,681 words, or 27,110 lines of text-and in the level of thoughtfulness expressed by all segments of the university. A number of people submitted many pages of insightful comments, whereas others had only brief observations. Many users echoed an undergraduate student who wrote: "I feel that this format is a most innovative and inviting way to gather the opinions of all members of the Rice community."

The vision elaborated in here has been significantly informed by this process and by the comments and contributions of those who participated in the Call to Conversation. They form an active, engaged, and thoughtful community, which clearly cares deeply about Rice.

Click below to learn how each constituency engaged with the C2C:

1. The Call to Conversation identified seven topics for consideration and discussion: our fundamental missions, responsibilities, and aspirations; the size of our university; the undergraduate experience; graduate and postdoctoral education; research and scholarship; our community; and setting priorities and prerequisites for achievement.