Like many other institutions, all new hires at Rice University attend an orientation that provides a history of the university and explains some of the many Rice traditions that employees may witness or hear reference to in their new workplace. I attended this orientation with my coworker, Rachael Shappard who was hired at the same time. After dipping our big toes into Rice’s robust history we returned to our desks at the Glasscock School of Continuing Studies. I was aware, as one may be in a new job, that I had a very limited scope of our continuing studies school which encompassed a more than 30 year history of its own.
As the amount of boxes, binders and bundles housed in my shared office indicated, one of my first tasks was to go through old materials to archive and scan digital copies. Faced with this somewhat daunting task (there were a lot of boxes), I realized I had the unique opportunity of discovering the history of Continuing Studies on my own, at the beginning.
Although some days I was occupied with other tasks, every week I spent a significant amount of time going through old brochures, photographs and press releases using a history compiled in 1998 to order them chronologically. I began to recognize fellow staff members in some of the photographs and discovered other commons threads through the materials. We highlighted some of these finds in our “Flashback Friday” blog posts.
In January 2014, we moved into our new facility, the D. Kent and Linda C. Anderson and Robert L. and Jean T. Clarke Center. The archive project had been completed. Some items were saved in storage and we had a wealth of digital images and course materials from the scans. Our offices were on the third floor in the new building and there was a long empty hallway between the elevator and conference rooms. Our marketing director, Jennifer Egenolf, knowing that we would have increased traffic in our new building, proposed a visual rendering of the Glasscock School’s history that could be displayed on the third floor walls. As this idea developed it was also determined that we would dedicate a wall to honor the past directors of continuing studies and, of course, our first dean, Mary McIntire.
Since I was familiar with the historical materials I was asked to coordinate the history wall and my coworker, Rachael, was asked to coordinate the director’s wall. I went through many drafts as we tried to determine the major milestones to highlight from GSCS’s history. One obvious choice was to highlight the move from the basement of Fondren to the Martel Center, commemorated by a photo of the new center. The floorboards from the Martel Center had been reclaimed and Richard Sharp, the father, and known woodcraftsman, of our associate director for the Master of Liberal Studies programs Rebecca Sharp Sanchez, agreed to craft a frame from the floorboards.
Another very clear event to highlight was when the School of Continuing Studies was renamed the Susanne M. Glasscock School of Continuing Studies in honor of an endowment gift from Melbern G. and Susanne M. Glasscock. This required scheduling a new photo of the Glasscocks in front of the new Anderson-Clarke Center, not an easy feat considering the full calendars of two major influencers in Houston and at Rice.
Rachael tracked down photos of our four past directors and Mary McIntire, contacting the Woodsen Research Center Special Collections and Archives in the Rice Library and Public Affairs. We had one photo of Carl Wischmeyer, the first director, in our archives, but it was already framed to be included in the History Wall with the founding press release. Rachael journeyed to the Allen Center to look through past Rice yearbooks to successfully uncover another photo of Carl. After discovering that Rice did not have a photo of our third director, Malcolm MacPhail, Rachael reached out to a former student of his who had recently received a letter from Malcom’s great nephew. The former student corresponded with the great nephew, who was able to supply a photo from a family wedding.
In May 2015, it became clear that all the pieces were almost complete. Rachael and I had been continuously working on this ongoing project, getting layouts approved when the program areas we worked with were less busy and getting pieces framed as they were approved. On June 9 the two walls were installed. We will be adding placards to provide more information so visitors, employees and even new employees will have a quick understanding of the Glasscock School’s rich history.
Laura Bailey, Marketing Coordinator