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Rice University Launches Minority Scholar Lecture Series

Rice University Launches Minority Scholar Lecture SeriesHOUSTON
Rice University in March began a twice-a-year lecture series featuring leading minority scholars in an effort to build the school’s commitment to diversity and relationship with the minority community. Initiated by Rice President Malcolm Gillis, the President’s Lecture Series of Diverse Scholars each year will feature one speech of interest to the general campus and another more closely aligned with departmental interests.
“Rice University has stressed the need for enriching diversity of our faculty, staff and student body for well over a decade,” Gillis said in a statement. “We are also trying our best to tap into the talents of underrepresented minority scholars all over the nation. This new lecture series exemplifies that effort.”
Duke University’s Dr. Arlie Petters, the school’s first African American tenured mathematician and Bass Society of Fellows member, presented the inaugural lecture. He is also the Martin Luther King Jr. Visiting Professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Petters discussed his research on how the gravitational pull of objects like stars deflect light from more distant objects.
Gillis hopes to bring some of the best minority scholars in the country to Rice for future lectures, the university said in a statement. He has encouraged department chairs to recommend speakers to a selection committee.
Selection committee chairman Dr. Richard Tapia, professor of computational and applied mathematics, said the lecture series is a natural extension of the commitment to diversity Gillis has built in Rice’s scholarship over the last decade.
“Dr. Gillis understands that buy-in from faculty is essential in building a tradition of commitment to diversity,” Tapia says, “and that is why he has sown the seeds for a grass-roots lecture series that is strongly rooted in the departments.” — By Ben Hammer

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