Building a Rice Community

Rice Graduate Education for Minorities (RGEM)

You Belong


In 1998 Rice University was awarded one of the National Science Foundation’s (NSF) inaugural Alliances for Graduate Education and the Professoriate (AGEP) programs based on successful support activities that targeted underrepresented minority students in the Computational and Applied Mathematics Department (CAAM) and in the Rice Center for Research in Parallel Computation (CRPC) through the “Spend a Summer with a Scientist Program”. The AGEP program was directed at underrepresented minority graduate students in STEM areas and as such included all the Rice departments in the Divisions of Science and Engineering. The funding was enhanced by the Sloan Foundation and continued until 2011.

The Rice NSF funded AGEP Program, directed for more than ten years by Professor Richard Tapia, was clearly the nation’s most successful AGEP Program and NSF’s favorite AGEP Program, and for good reasons.

Rice AGEP’s accomplishments included:

  • Seventy-five (75) Rice Ph.D.s in STEM areas were awarded to underrepresented minority students in the past 20 years with approximately 35 of those coming from CAAM, formerly the Mathematical Sciences Department.
  • Rice CAAM department was selected by the American Mathematical Society for the 2010 award to departments that have made a difference in improving representation.
  • Fifteen (15) NSF Graduate Fellowships were awarded to Rice AGEP students in the past five years.
  • Professors Richard Tapia and Rick Barrera (members of the Rice AGEP steering committee) have been awarded NSF’s Presidential Mentoring Award.

RGEM Program Model

RGEM will focus on two principle components of the AGEP model that contribute to its success. These components in very general terms are:

  • Faculty Involvement
    Leadership is provided by a critical mass of well-respected underrepresented minority faculty. While not all leadership need be underrepresented minority faculty, all need to be well-respected caring faculty. By well-respected faculty we mean individuals who have distinguished themselves in their academic careers and are respected by other faculty, undergraduate and graduate students, and by the administration. It takes a well respected faculty member to play the important role of student advocate.
  • Building the Community
    The RGEM community will see each other as an extended family, and distinctions between schools will not be made. The RGEM community will attends talks about underrepresentation and other important issues. We also plan to invite guest speakers and former AGEP students. Our primary goal is to cultivate the RGEM feeling of -“I can, I belong, others have done it and so can I.”

RGEM Activities:

1. Several times a semester, no more than once a month, RGEM students will meet with the underlying goal of promoting a sense of community and belonging. These meetings may consist of awareness and sensitivity lectures given my Rice faculty, distinguished visitors or panel discussions by previous Rice minority students. All activities will be directed at general audiences. Attendance at these meeting is mandatory for RGEM students.

2. Each RGEM student will meet at least once a year with appropriate representation from the Steering Committee to discuss their progress or lack of progress in their graduate program.

3. RGEM students will help the Director promote the design and attendance at lectures given by invitees in The Presidential Lecture Series of Diverse Scholars and other high level presentations given by underrepresented minority campus speakers. They can play a role in the support and recruitment of underrepresented minority students and faculty.

4. GEM students will attend a yearly social functions planned by the Director with the aid of the Steering Committee.

In general RGEM students will be good citizens in helping to promote an active and exciting Rice environment concerning diversity as it relates to traditional underrepresentation.

Qualifier. Attendance at all activities is mandatory for RGEM students.