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Rice University Martel College Records

Identifier: UA 119
Finding aid note: Stored onsite at the Woodson Research Center.

Scope and Contents

The collection consists of Martel College architectural drawings, photographs, videotape of the 2000 groundbreaking, constitution and bylaws, charter, cabinet minutes, records of special events, information on the Founding Committee, and student life, 2000-2012.


  • 2000-2016


Access Restrictions

This material is open for research.

Conditions Governing Access

Stored onsite at the Woodson Research Center.

User Restrictions

Permission to publish from the Martel College Records, 2000-2012, must be obtained from the Woodson Research Center, Fondren Library, Rice University.

Biographical / Historical

In 1998, $15 million was donated by the Marian and Speros Martel Foundation, a long-standing benefactor of Rice. Earmarked to implement the Rice: The Next Century initiative, part of the donation was set aside to build a new residential college.

The Marian and Speros Martel Foundation was established in 1932 and has since supported a variety of philanthropic causes, including cancer research, the Houston Symphony, the Houston Holocaust Museum, and Project GRAD, a nonprofit organization that aims to increase the graduation and college attendance rates of inner-city students. With the building of Martel College, the Martels' dream of having a profound influence on the students of Rice University and the residents of Houston has become even more concrete.

The literal and figurative foundations of the new college were laid in 2000. The official groundbreaking took place on April 10, 2000, and was attended by newly instated Martel Masters Joan and Arthur Few. Masters at Baker College from 1994 to 1999, the Fews were chosen to give the newest college a leg up.

Attention soon turned to the most important aspect of a residential college - the students. Applications for Martel's founding committee went out in Sept. 2000, and two students from each existing college were selected. "We are looking for people who are able to see the possibilities this is a new college and a new millennium and people with leadership, because they have to write a constitution, recruit other members and new associates," Arthur Few said in a Sept. 2000 interview with "The Thresher." A lot of the jobs that the founding committee has to do will require students with leadership and vision. During the recruiting process, Martel also filled various positions within the college. Martel's first parliament was elected with then-junior Alice Hill as president. Maria Byrne, who had worked with Arthur Few in the Space Physics and Astronomy Department, became the first Martel College coordinator.

"I was excited to start something new," Byrne said. "I didn't have much interaction with students [in the physics and astronomy department]." The first students accepted as new Martel members had to live off campus during the fall 2001 semester until the completion of construction, scheduled for the beginning of 2002. Excitement mounted as Martelians anticipated the completion of their brand-new building. Then disaster struck. In June, Tropical Storm Allison dumped 28 inches of rain on the Houston area, causing an estimated $4.88 billion of damage. The heavy flooding delayed Martel's construction schedule by two months, and the administration scrambled for a plan to house the incoming Martel students during the beginning of the spring 2002 semester. Hill, a senior, said the uncertainty was nothing the college couldn't handle.

"Martel students possess great integrity to accommodate the administration's demands," Hill said. The Rice administration has also been doing all they can to make the whole process run smoothly. Eventually, Rice administration and Martel students worked out three options for housing during those two weeks. The students could either stay in their current housing situation from the end of last semester, live with an on-campus friend through the Adopt-A-Martelian plan, or stay at the Warwick, the same hotel where Speros and Marian Martel made their home more than half a century before. In October, applications for freshman transfers became available. Sixty-three freshmen were accepted: five each from Brown and Jones Colleges, and up to 12 from each of the other colleges. While freshmen were being recruited, Martel members named physics instructor Gary Morris and intramural sports director Tina Villard as Martel's first resident associates.

[Adapted from an article by Dylan Hedrick in "The Rice Thresher," February 22, 2002]


11.25 Linear Feet (14 boxes)

1.24 Gigabytes (Nearline access: UA0119aip_001 (1.24 GB))

0.78 Gigabytes (Nearline access: UA0119aip_002 (0.78 GB))

0.013 Gigabytes (Nearline access: UA0119aip_003 (0.013 GB))

3.44 Gigabytes (Nearline access: UA0119aip_004 (3.44 GB))

Language of Materials



The collection consists of Martel College architectural drawings, photographs, videotape of the 2000 groundbreaking, constitution and bylaws, charter, cabinet minutes, records of special events, information on the Founding Committee, and student life, 2000-2012.

Acquisition Information

These records were transferred by Joan and Arthur Few (First Masters), and by the Development Office, 2000, 2002, and 2005.


Future additions are expected for this material.

Related Material

See the Rice University Archives for records about other Rice University residential colleges. See also Information Files for more about the residential college system or Marian and Speros Martel. Contact Woodson Research Center staff for assistance.
Guide to the Rice University Martel College Records, 2000-2016
Amanda Focke
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note

Repository Details

Part of the Woodson Research Center, Rice University, Houston, Texas Repository

Fondren Library MS-44, Rice University
6100 Main St.
Houston Texas 77005 USA