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Rice Institute/Rice University Charter Trial records

 Collection
Identifier: UA 275
Finding aid note: Stored onsite at the Woodson Research Center.

Scope and Contents

These records reflect the court proceedings of and alumni and public response to Rice Institute's Charter trial of 1964 and later appeals and judgments. The 1964 lawsuit was brought by the Rice Institute trustees seeking to alter the Institute's original charter to allow admission of students of color and to enable the school to charge tuition. Additional changes to the charter in 1982 and 1998 are also documented here. Formats include legal documents, notes, correspondence, newsclippings, and press releases.

Dates

  • 1963 - 1998

Creator

Access Restrictions

The materials are open for research.

Use Restrictions

Permission to publish these records must be obtained from the Woodson Research Center.

Biographical / Historical

The original charter for the Rice Institute was drawn from an indenture written by William Marsh Rice in 1891 and stated that the institute would be open to "white inhabitants of Houston and Texas" for "free tuition". The trustees of the Rice Institute petitioned the courts in February 1963 to change the charter to enable the admission of students of color and to charge tuition. The Rice Board of Trustees was unanimous in supporting this suit, claiming that such actions were necessary in order to carry out William Marsh Rice's primary intent to establish an educational institution of the first class. Rice President Kenneth Pitzer was also in full support of this initiative. Rice was unable to compete for grant funding because it did not charge tuition to students, and was under increasing pressure by the civil rights movement to admit students based on merit and without regard to race. Rice was among the last of the southern colleges and universities to admit students of color.

In summer 1963, two Rice alumni, John B. Coffee and Val T. Billups filed a petition intervening in the suit and challenging the trustees' position. In January 1964, a group of Rice University alumni filed a petition supporting the trustees' position and opposing Coffee and Billups. Later that month, Coffee and Billups filed an amended petition further outlining their points.

The case went to District Judge William M. Holland's court on Feb. 10, 1964 and a verdict favorable to Rice was handed down on March 9, 1964.

Later in 1964, the first civil court of appeals affirmed District Judge William M. Holland's ruling. In 1965, the first civil court of appeals dismissed an appeal by two Rice alumni, John B. Coffee and Val T. Billups (begun in summer 1963), ruling that the two men had no justifiable interest in the case. Coffee and Billups then appealed to the Texas Supreme Court, who sent the case back to the appeals court, claiming it should heard the case in the first place.

Tuition was charged to students who could afford it beginning in 1965. In fall 1965, Rice's first two African American undergraduate freshmen were admitted and began classes. One of them was a woman, Jacqueline McCauley of Houston. However, Rice's first African American student was actually admitted in 1963, when Raymond Lewis Johnson was admitted to the Math Department in pursuit of a master's degree. As part of these changes to the charter, Rice Institute became known as Rice University.

Prior to this charter lawsuit, Rice did on occasion ignore the Caucasian rule and admit male students of color, including Charles S. Chan of Houston who graduated in 1941 with a B.S. in architectural engineering.

In October 1966, the appeals court upheld Judge Holland's 1964 ruling in favor of Rice Institute. In February 1967, the Texas Supreme Court denied a writ of error in the lawsuit filed by alumni Coffee and Billups.

A 1982 lawsuit over the charter provision requiring all seven trustees to live in Houston was overturned. Further amendments to the charter were made in 1998, enabling the expansion of the Board of Trustees from seven to a maximum of twenty-five and allowing Rice to incur debt by borrowing money or using tax-free bonds to finance large projects such as construction.

Extent

2.5 Linear Feet ( (5 boxes))

Language of Materials

English

Overview

These records reflect the court proceedings of and alumni and public response to Rice Institute's Charter trial of 1964 and later appeals and judgments. The lawsuit was brought by the Rice Institute Trustees seeking to alter the Institute's original charter to allow admission of students of color and to enable the school to charge tuition. Additional changes to the charter in 1982 and 1998 relating to structure of the board of trustees and the university's legal ability to borrow money are also documented here.

Arrangement

The records have been arranged in 8 series:

Missing Title

  1. Series I: Lawsuit and background materials
  2. Series II: Trial documents
  3. Series III: Correspondence
  4. Series IV: Press releases and newsclippings
  5. Series V: Court Judgement, 1964
  6. Series VI: Alumni response and appeal
  7. Series VII: Articles of Incorporation
  8. Series VIII: President Kenneth Pitzer correspondence, memoranda, and trial materials

Acquisition Information

Transferred from the President's office, 2002.

Related Material

See "At a most uncomfortable speed : the desegregation of the South's private universities, 1945-1964", by Melissa Fitzsimmons Kean, Ph.D. dissertation, Rice University, History Dept., 2000. (Fondren call # THESIS HIST. 2000 Kean)

Related Materials

Portions of this collection have been digitized and are available online https://scholarship.rice.edu/handle/1911/109678

Creator

Title
Guide to the Rice Institute/Rice University Charter Trial records, 1963 - 1998
Status
Completed
Date
2011
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
English
Script of description
Latin
Language of description note
English

Repository Details

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

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