Biographical / Historical
The story of the development of the Rice University Glasscock School of Continuing Studies is an account of continuous expansion guided by consistent principles of value and economic viability. When President Kenneth Pitzer first announced establishment of the Office of Continuing Studies (OCS) in 1961, the intended purpose was to bridge a gulf between the university and the surrounding community by offering courses designed particularly to inform professionals of new developments in technical fields. The first directors of the OCS, Carl Wischmeyer, Nat W. Krahl, and Sam H. Davis, were faculty members in engineering departments. Expansion of offerings of the OCS coincided with the building up of the humanities and social sciences that began under President Pitzer and transformed Rice from an institute to a university.
The aim of keeping offerings of the OCS capable of paying for themselves led to changes in the audience envisioned for courses. When Malcolm R. MacPhail succeeded Sam Davis as OCS director in 1973, the office began to see the full range of academic disciplines as having contributions to make “in the service of society.” MacPhail invited any faculty interested in giving a class “primarily for the benefit of the public” to contact him. Expansion of the mission of the office was also due to the influence of John L. Margrave, dean of advanced studies and research, who had assumed administrative responsibility for OCS in 1972. The strategy of expanding the offerings of the office succeeded in putting it on a firm financial footing for the first time.
In the spring of 1974 courses in conversational French, German, Portuguese, Spanish, and Russian that began the continuously successful Language Program were offered for the first time. In July 1974 Dr. Linda Driskill, then teaching in the English Department and the Jones School of Administration, was brought in by Dean Margrave and Director MacPhail to be assistant director on a part-time basis. She became director when MacPhail retired in December. The years of Linda Driskill’s directorship were characterized by creative experimentation in diversifying OCS courses while maintaining a level of quality appropriate for a major university and also assuring that programs would recoup their costs. In addition to coming from Rice faculty, instructors were brought in from industry, government, and other community organizations. An idea for a series of short courses titled “Interpreting America,” capitalizing on public interest in the country’s 1976 bicentennial celebrations, led to seeking financial support from outside the university. To work with her on this program, Driskill brought in Dr. Mary McIntire, a recent Ph.D. graduate in English, to be its director.
The “Interpreting America” program was precedent-setting for OCS in several ways. The idea of linking course offerings to something like the television series America, hosted by Alistair Cooke, presented a financial challenge that led to an agreement with Houston National Bank to underwrite “Interpreting America.” In subsequent years there have been collaborations of the School of Continuing Studies with the Houston Symphony, the Museum of Fine Arts, and the Museum of Natural Science.
“Interpreting America” made the OCS more broadly visible to the Houston audience, and by 1981 its programs were attracting more than 3,000 enrollments per year. In 1982 Mary McIntire was promoted to director of OCS, and the administration of the university’s summer courses became its responsibility.
Expansion of course offerings, OCS staff, and enrollments continued in the 80s. By 1985 there were more than 5,500 enrollments per year. In 1986 Mary McIntire was named the first dean of Continuing Studies by President George Rupp, and six years later, President Rupp raised the status of the OCS to the School of Continuing Studies, giving it standing parallel to the university’s Schools of Humanities, Engineering, and Natural Sciences.
Meanwhile, the range of course offerings continued to expand. In 1987 the first courses in fund raising were offered. In 1995 the first professional development courses for teachers were added. Participants in Continuing Studies courses over time expressed an interest in having course credit lead to a degree. Thus, following approval by the university faculty, in 2005 a course sequence leading to the Rice Master of Liberal Studies was initiated.
In honor of an endowment gift from Melbern G. and Susanne M. Glasscock, in 2005 the School of Continuing Studies was renamed the Susanne M. Glasscock School of Continuing Studies. The following year an Advisory Board was established, made up of Rice faculty, Continuing Studies instructors, Rice alumni, and community members. In 2010 a gift from Rice alumni C. M. “Hank” and Demaris Hudspeth made possible establishment of the Center for Philanthropy and Nonprofit Leadership, building on the School’s more than twenty years of fundraising and non-profit programming.
An ongoing challenge through the years has been finding space on campus to house the administrative activities as well as the courses of the School. A fairly long-lasting solution came about in 1987 when the former Rice Museum became the Speros P. Martel Center for Continuing Studies. Since the majority of Continuing Studies classes took place during hours after most university classes, sufficient space for course meetings could be found in campus buildings. However, the continued growth of the School has been such that in 2009 with the support of President David Leebron, the Board of Trustees approved a plan to raise funds for a new building on campus to house staff, classrooms, and an auditorium for the Glasscock School. Ground (technically, pavement) was broken for the new building on Dec. 13, 2012, and completed in 2014. Recognizing major gifts for the building’s completion, it is called the D. Kent and Linda C. Anderson and Robert L. and Jean T. Clarke Center.
(based in part on In the Service of Society: Continuing Studies at Rice 1968-1998 by Melissa Kean)