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Higher Education News from the Collegiate Way

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McMurtry College to be Rice’s 10th Residential College

— Earlier this year Rice University announced plans to expand its long-standing residential college system. In today’s edition of the Houston Chronicle, Todd Ackerman reports that Rice has received a gift from alumnus Burt McMurtry to endow the next college to be established as part of this expansion.

Record $32 million pledged to Rice

Student residences are just one cause to benefit from alumni couple’s gift

An alumni couple have pledged $32 million to Rice University, the largest donation ever to the private Houston school.

The gift from venture capitalist Burt McMurtry and his wife, Deedee, will fund a number of causes, among them the operation of Rice’s residential college system, where undergraduate students live. Burt McMurtry helped plan the system as a student in the mid-1950s.

“It’s enjoyable to be able to give back to the institution,” said McMurtry, reminiscing about Rice’s free tuition in his day. “I feel very close to Rice—I had a great experience there.”

In recognition of the gift, Rice will name a planned new residential college “Burton and Deedee McMurtry College.” Money from previous McMurtry donations to Rice will help fund construction of the college.

Burt McMurtry was a student representative on the 1955 committee that set out the original mission and organizational design of the residential college system, which has become a Rice hallmark. Under the arrangement, each undergraduate student is a member of one of nine such colleges, each of which has its own dormitory, dining hall and public spaces. A faculty master lives in an adjacent house.

The Burton and Deedee McMurtry College is one of two additional colleges Rice hopes to break ground on next year as part of a 30 percent enrollment expansion plan. They are expected to be ready for occupancy in 2010.

The McMurtrys’ pledge includes $4.2 million to create a long-term operating and maintenance fund for the residential college system; and a charitable trust currently valued at $28 million that will go toward unspecified uses.

Burt McMurtry, who received electrical engineering degrees from Rice in 1956 and 1957, is considered one of the founders of the Silicon Valley. His venture firms have backed such companies as KLA-Tencor, Adaptec, Altera, Compaq, Intuit, Linear Technology Corp. and Microsoft.

The McMurtrys, whose donations to Rice now total $54 million, met at Houston’s Lamar High School but didn’t begin dating until they came to Rice. Burt was the Student Association president and Deedee was the vice president.

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