Reginald DesRoches will be the eighth president of Rice University in Houston, Texas. When he takes office next July, he will be the first African American to lead the university.
“I am deeply honored to be named the next president of Rice University,” Dr. DesRoches said. “The past 4½ years at Rice have been among the most rewarding in my professional career and I look forward to building on the tradition of excellence established by President Leebron and those who served before him.
“I am excited to continue working with the university’s outstanding faculty, students, staff, alumni and community partners to grow the visibility and impact of our research and dedication to the greater good,” Dr. DesRoches added. “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 Rice is poised and well-positioned to reach even greater heights of impact and excellence.”
William Marsh Rice was an oil and cotton tycoon, who when he died was said to be the richest man in Texas. He left the bulk of his estate to establish the Rice Institute for Literature. His will stipulated that only White students were allowed to enroll. From its founding in 1912 to 1965, no Black student was permitted to enroll. Today, African Americans make up 8 percent of the undergraduate student body.
Since 2020, Dr. DesRoches has been provost at Rice. In 2017, he came to Rice as the William and Stephanie Sick Dean of Engineering. Previously, he served as chair of the School of Civil & Environmental Engineering at the Georgia Institute of Technology. Professor DesRoches’ research focuses on building structures resilient to earthquakes.
Dr. DesRoches was born in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, and grew up in Queens, New York. He earned a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering, a master’s degree in civil engineering, and a Ph.D. in structural engineering at the University of California, Berkeley.