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Rice University introduces Reginald Desroches as the eighth president

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De Roach has held the position of dean of the university since 2020. Next summer, he will take over as President David LeBron.

HOUSTON – Rice University has presented its next president.

Earlier this month, the university appointed Reginald de Roches as its next president. He will become the eighth president in the university’s history when he takes office next summer.

RELATED: Rice University Names Reginald Desroches as Next President

De Roches is currently Dean of the University.

De Roach will succeed President David LeBron, who announced his plan to step down next summer, after the end of the current academic year.

“I am deeply honored to be named the next president of Rice University,” DeRoch said. “The past four and a half years at Rice have been among the most rewarding of my career, and I look forward to building on the tradition of excellence established by President LeBron and those who have served before him.”

DesRoches has been described by the university as an internationally recognized structural engineer and seismic expert.

“I am excited to continue working with the university’s distinguished faculty, students, staff, alumni and community partners to increase the visibility and impact of our research and dedication to the greater good,” Desroches said. “I look forward to maintaining our commitment to excellence in undergraduate and graduate education as well as our core values ​​of diversity, equity and inclusion. I firmly believe that Rice is well positioned to reach even greater levels of impact and excellence.”

De Roche has been at Rice since 2017 when he accepted the position as William and Ailing Stephanie’s Dean of Engineering at the George R. Brown School of Engineering. As leader of the Rice College of Engineering, he supervised nine departments, 137 colleges, and 2,500 students. During his tenure as dean, the school increased in size, visibility, and program rankings, according to the university.

According to a statement sent by Rice, Desroches has been a dean since LeBron appointed him as the university’s academic president in 2020. As dean, he has led the university’s academic, research, scientific, and creative activities through the challenges posed by the novel coronavirus (COVID-19). The pandemic, including the sudden suspension of classroom instruction and Rice’s successful shift to distance learning. In less than two years, he has not only dramatically increased the university’s research awards and launched several new centers and institutes, but has also formed new partnerships and programs with institutions and organizations throughout the Houston area, including the Texas Medical Center.

“Reggie Desroches is a great choice as Rice’s next president,” said LeBron. “I have had the privilege of working closely with Reggie for the past four and a half years, first as Dean of Engineering and then Dean, and have observed closely his extraordinary leadership, values, thinking and ambition for Rice. I am confident that he will fulfill the aspirations of our Be Bold campaign in full, taking Rice to New Frontiers of Achievement and Influence.”

He said he received about 1,500 congratulatory emails, including from seniors who told him they remembered when Rice first accepted black students in 1964.

“When they came of age, they couldn’t come to Rice. Seeing someone who looked like them, who would be president, was emotional for them,” he said.

Desroche was torn upon the official announcement. He said he was thinking of his parents.

“You think about all the sacrifices they’ve made and how hard you’ve worked to try to honor all they’ve done for us and hearing that announcement officially was emotional,” he said.

He said that among his goals is to focus on developing research institutions, expanding graduate programs, and diversifying faculty members.

History before Rice

De Roche was born in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, and raised in the Queens borough of New York City. He is the youngest of four children of Haitian immigrants.

His childhood love for science and mathematics encouraged him to pursue a degree in mechanical engineering.

While studying at the University of California, Berkeley, Desroches witnessed the damage caused by the historic 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake. That experience led him to focus on earthquake resistance while he was pursuing his master’s and doctoral degrees. Degrees in Structural Engineering at Berkeley.

Prior to his appointment to Rice, DesRoches served as chair of the School of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Georgia Tech in Atlanta. As president, he led a major renovation of the school’s main research and teaching house, and led a major fundraising effort for the school that doubled the number of talented chairs and professors. During his tenure, US News & World Report alumni rankings for the College of Engineering have skyrocketed, reaching number two in the nation – the highest in the school’s history.

De Roches’ wife, Paula, is the Director of Staff Health and Occupational Medicine at Houston Methodist. They have three sons: Andrew, Jacob and Shelby. Their daughter, Shelby, is Rice’s 23rd class student.

Now, 54, DeRoch and his wife have three college-aged children, including Rice’s bioengineering major.

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