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Rice University Commission on Women

Identifier: UA 0061
Finding aid note: Stored off-site at the Library Service Center. Please request this material via or call 713-348-2586.

Scope and Contents

Rice University Commission on Women (RUCOW) records consist of minutes of meetings, correspondence and memoranda, surveys, task force and commission reports, ballots, realia and memorabilia.


  • Creation: 1985 - 2003


Access Restrictions

This material is open for research. Stored off-site at the Library Service Center. Please request this material via or call 713-348-2586.

Use Restrictions

Permission to publish from the Rice University Fund Council Records must be obtained from the Woodson Research Center, Fondren Library, Rice University.

Historical Sketch

In 1987, Rice president George Rupp formed a Commission on Women to investigate matters related to working women at Rice. Following an election, he appointed sixteen women from the faculty and staff to serve on the commission, which accepted the following charge: "The Commission will explore and evaluate issues relating to Rice women, especially in areas where inequities may exist, formulate specific recommendations to the Administration based upon its analysis, and educate the Rice community about behaviors and attitudes that operate to the detriment of women. The ultimate goal of the Commission will be to ensure a positive environment for women on campus."

The Commission, chaired by Professor Hally Beth Poindexter, set up task forces to study campus visibility, salaries, hiring practices, promotion and employee review practices, campus climate, benefits, and policies related to part-time employment. Over a hundred volunteers, both women and men, worked on the task forces, which met as often as weekly. However, before the task forces went into action the Commission felt it needed to address an immediate issue, the summer working conditions of college maintenance employees; an ad hoc subcommittee was formed in August 1987 and its report was issued September 1987.

The report of the Commission on Women 1987-88 consists of a summary report plus the reports of the seven task forces. The Commission also made recommendations, organized according to the individuals or departments responsible, so that each administrator can see the recommendations from the various task forces that would apply to his or her office or function.

In April and May 1989, Commission members met with three deans and the provost to discuss and take notes on the latters' "ideas for the future role of the Women's Commission, issues that needed clarification, and future problems that they could anticipate." In the spring of 1990 the Commission sent a memo to vice presidents and deans summarizing the Commission's five themes deemed to be of utmost importance of women on the Rice Campus and asking the VP's and Deans to identify "both general and specific points of progress and programs that have addressed these deficiencies, " which they did, some at length.

In September 1990, some of the original Commission members stayed on and others phased out, to allow for a mix of new blood and continuity of experience.

The Commission continued for several years thereafter. In the early 1990s, the Commission analyzed issues as child care needs for employees and students, and suggested creating an on-campus facility. During the mid-1990s under President Malcolm Gillis' direction, the Commission revisited the original 1988 report to determine whether recommendations and concerns were addressed by Rice University since that time.

Recently, President David W. Leebron established a new advisory group that will counsel the president and provost on issues facing women faculty. Based on the findings of a 2003 report of the Ad Hoc Advisory Committee, the report indicated a favorable campus-wide climate, however women faculty expressed lower degrees of satisfaction than men on most measures. The 2003 report is included in the collection.


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The records reflect the activities of the Rice University Commission on Women (RUCOW). The collection spans almost 20 years and consists of materials associated with the Commission's work including task force reports that summarize the state of women's affairs at Rice (benefits, salary, promotion, child care, campus climate and visibility), surveys, memoranda, campus controversies, internal correspondence, and a collection of scholarly articles concerned with women's issues in academia.

Acquisition Information

These records have been placed with the Woodson Research Center by Kathleen Minadeo Johnson and Mildred Crocker in May, 2002. Additional materials on the Women's Commission dating from the 1990s were donated by Pat Kambhu in January, 2005.

General note

Historical sketch prepared by Nancy Boothe, and updated by Anthony Potoczniak. More recent information from the Rice News (vol. 14, no. 32, April 28, 2005)

Processing Information

Finding aid was initially prepared and processed by Nancy Boothe in 2004, and was updated by Anthony Potoczniak in 2005.

Guide to Rice University Commission on Women Records, 1985-2003 bulk 1985-1998
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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