Scope and Contents
The collection consists of two documents, the February 1995 report of the General Announcements Review Committee, and a June 2006 draft of a report by Christopher Dow on characteristics and changes of General Announcements from 1994-95 through 2005-06.
Biographical / Historical
The General Announcements (GA), also known as the catalog, of Rice University contains course information as well as requirements for admission, for graduation, and for all the individual majors and degrees offered by the university. It is thus considered the contract between the university and the student.
Records concerning revisions show that planners have had in mind use of the GA not only by current students but also by high school students in the process of planning their next step in education and by the school guidance counselors advising them. Consequently, one of the goals of revision processes has been to present the academic information as fully as possible while keeping the publication a convenient-to-handle size and in weight under one pound for economy in postage.
Records regarding the production of GA prior to 1983 are not readily available. Between 1983 and 1986 production was accomplished by a freelance editor hired by the University Relations office (precursor to the Division of Public Affairs, of which the current Publications Office is a part). The Publications Office has produced GA since 1986; in 1994 Publications Editor Chris Dow took on supervision of the project.
One of the documents in the collection is the report of the eight-member faculty and staff General Announcements Review Committee, which, beginning in 1994, carried out a revision process designed to 1) improve the information contained in the book, 2) improve the book’s ease of use, and 3) reduce the total amount of information contained so as to keep the book from exceeding the one-pound limit for reasonable postage rates. While the committee’s reorganization of material resulted in a more comprehensive and easy-to-use volume, during the approval process, the space-saving measures were all but eliminated and thus do not appear in the 1997-98 version.
For the 2000-01, 2001-02, 2002-03, and 2003-04 editions modifications continued to be made for the sake of maintaining a weight of under one pound. These modifications ranged from eliminating information considered non-essential to using thinner paper, reducing font size, and reducing margins throughout.
For the 2005-06 edition a major re-design was undertaken, since it was felt that everything that could be removed without complaints from the various constituencies had been removed. The re-design consisted of using a different typeface, compressing spacing, and reducing margins. The Provost’s Office also accomplished some condensing of portions of the introductory material and the sections for all students, undergraduates, and graduate students. The result was an overall savings of 70 pages over the 2003-04 edition and a weight of 15.5 ounces.
Christopher Dow’s report of the sequence of changes made to GA in order to maintain a weight of under one pound ends with description of the 2005-06 edition.
GA continued to be published in hardcopy through the 2008-09 edition. Continuously since then, each year’s edition has been published online only. It exists in pdf format, allowing downloading or printing any portion a user or interested party would wish to have as hardcopy.