College Magister

The exceptional quality of life in the residential colleges is a central reason why Rice University is consistently ranked #1 by the Princeton Review for its overall quality of undergraduate experience.  An important factor contributing to quality of life in the colleges is the on-site presence of informed and responsive Magisters.

With Dr. José Aranda, I have served twice in the capacity of College Magister.  Currently (since 2013), I am the Magister of Brown College.   From 2004-2010, I served as the Magister of Baker College.  In 2010, I served as the Inaugural Magister of the newest college at Rice, Duncan College.  The opportunity to serve in this unique role has offered equally unique insights into the structure and daily workings of the university, and into undergraduate thought and challenges.

Residential Colleges.  What makes the residential colleges (there are eleven) not dorms-in-disguise is that each one is run by an elected student leadership, or College Cabinet.  Cabinets hold regular college-wide meetings, oversee a major budget, as well as they coordinate lots of additional student leaders who put together an astonishing number of annual events — everything from research talks, to peer academic and personal advising, to zany community celebrations, to sporting events.  Students even elect justices empowered to police their peers in certain circumstances and to decide college-level judicial cases.

Magisters.  The senior academic administrator in each college is the College Magister.  The Magister is a tenured faculty member who lives with his or her family in a house provided by the University on campus.  “Magister” is a classical Latin word meaning “teacher” and has been used historically as an academic title for a scholar.  Magisters typically are people who work well with undergraduates and who see creativity, smarts, and joy in the controlled chaos of everyday undergrad life.  We tend to laugh a lot!

The University charges the Magisters with several crucial duties:

–foster intellectual health and vitality in the colleges
–develop and support student leadership and government
–act as liaison between students and other administrative offices on campus (Dean of  Undergraduates,  Academic Advising, Faculty, Honor Council, Counseling Center, Student Judicial Affairs, Housing & Dining, Rice University Police Department)
–oversee a staff of College Coordinator and Resident Associates, and sponsor ongoing college and university programs

Brown College (2013-

Magisters in Brown House

Brown College is on the northeast end of campus — a bit of a walk from most parts of campus.  Students say that the walk over, or the outlier “destination” location of Brown, provides for a very close knit student community.  Brown is known for producing SA Presidents and very strong College Presidents.  Brown’s unique character has to do with its social conscience, willingness of students to reach beyond the hedges, and more recently, a growing interest in music.  We take pleasure in talking over lunches and dinners about what the different parts of campus (sciences, social sciences, humanities) have to offer one another.

Baker College (2004-2010)

Baker is the founding, oldest, and smallest college.  It sits in the center of campus, and its commons frequently get talked about as as Hogwarts II.  During the years at Baker College, I instituted a program called Girl Talk, which eventually hosted speakers and became the model for today’s “Healthy Relationships” portion of O-Week.  We carried on the tradition of Port Talks, begun by our colleague in history and an RA at Baker at that time (later the Weiss College Master), Professor Alex Byrd. The final years at Baker we had the idea to create a “sister” or mentor relationship between Baker and the college being built at that time — Duncan College.  So in the very last year of our time at Baker, we actually were Masters of both Baker and Duncan simultaneously.  The “sistering” that Baker did with Duncan, and the tremendous leadership of the Baker President Megan McSpedon, made for an amazing welcoming first year for the new Duncan students.

 See below a slide show of Baker years . . . takes a few seconds to click forward.

  • Baker College

  • Introducing New Baker Masters & sons, Benito and Jesse (behind podium), November, 2003

    Introducing New Baker Masters & sons, Benito and Jesse (behind podium), November, 2003

  • New Baker Master with Mac Griswold, Baker Resident Associate and Director, Rice Community Involvement Center, November, 2003

    New Baker Master with Mac Griswold, Baker Resident Associate and Director, Rice Community Involvement Center, November, 2003

  • Master with Jonathan Schumann

    Master with Jonathan Schumann

  • Convocation, September, 2004

    Convocation, September, 2004

  • Prof. José Aranda, Baker Master, Convocation, 2004

    Prof. José Aranda, Baker Master, Convocation, 2004

  • Associates Night 2004, Baker Commons, with College Associate, Suzanne O'Malley, screenwriter and journalist

    Associates Night 2004, Baker Commons, with College Associate, Suzanne O'Malley, screenwriter and journalist

  • Micromaster Benito at Annual Winter Holiday Party, 2004

    Micromaster Benito at Annual Winter Holiday Party, 2004

  • Unusual Student Problems—Giant Christmas Tree Stuck in Stairwell outside of Commons, November, 2004

    Unusual Student Problems—Giant Christmas Tree Stuck in Stairwell outside of Commons, November, 2004

  • Beer Bike 2004, Master and Micromaster, with RUPD Officer Beeves, Bike Race

    Beer Bike 2004, Master and Micromaster, with RUPD Officer Beeves, Bike Race

  • Beer Bike 2004, Master's Inaugural Mohawk

    Beer Bike 2004, Master's Inaugural Mohawk

  • Baker Blues, 2005, Master with RA Adam Gottleib

    Baker Blues, 2005, Master with RA Adam Gottleib

  • Beer Bike 2005, Micromasters Benito and Jesse supporting the bike team

    Beer Bike 2005, Micromasters Benito and Jesse supporting the bike team

  • Masters Hosting Alumni at Homecoming 2005 for Generations of Baker Presidents

    Masters Hosting Alumni at Homecoming 2005 for Generations of Baker Presidents

  • Beer Bike 2005, Masters in Sea of Bakerites

    Beer Bike 2005, Masters in Sea of Bakerites

  • Matriculation 2005, Master and micromaster Benito Lead the Class of 2009 behind President Ryan Peacock

    Matriculation 2005, Master and micromaster Benito Lead the Class of 2009 behind President Ryan Peacock

  • Homecoming honors Dr. Wischmeyer, Baker's Inaugural Master (1957), November 2005

    Homecoming honors Dr. Wischmeyer, Baker's Inaugural Master (1957), November 2005

  • Commencement, 2005, with RA Katie Beth Higgins

    Commencement, 2005, with RA Katie Beth Higgins

  • Annual Halloween Pumpkin Carving (2007)

    Annual Halloween Pumpkin Carving (2007)

  • Commencement 2007, Master with Venora Frazier, Baker College Coordinator for 20+ years, and President Sara Zampierin

    Commencement 2007, Master with Venora Frazier, Baker College Coordinator for 20+ years, and President Sara Zampierin

  • Masters for Baker and Jones Annual Feast(event-rumored-to-be-a-party), 2008

    Masters for Baker and Jones Annual Feast(event-rumored-to-be-a-party), 2008

  • Addressing Parents, Duncan Commons, O Week, 2009

    Addressing Parents, Duncan Commons, O Week, 2009

  • Beer Bike 2009 with Micro master Benito and friends Ryan and Matthew

    Beer Bike 2009 with Micro master Benito and friends Ryan and Matthew

  • Duncan and Baker Masters with Baker President Kathy Kellert, O Week, 2009

    Duncan and Baker Masters with Baker President Kathy Kellert, O Week, 2009

  • Matriculation, 2009

    Matriculation, 2009

  • Micromasters Growing Up: Jesse and Benito in 2010

    Micromasters Growing Up: Jesse and Benito in 2010

  • Farewell Dinner, April 2010. Masters, Micromasters (much older), Administrative Team, and Baker College.

    Farewell Dinner, April 2010. Masters, Micromasters (much older), Administrative Team, and Baker College.