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Building a Reputation -- Rice Dedicates Duncan Hall

Source: Sallyport, Winter 1997
By Christopher Dow

In Lovett Hall, described so eloquently by Professor Huxley soon after its completion, the founders of Rice University sought a building that would make a definitive statement of their bold vision and noble aspirations. The architectural blend they chose for Rice's first building set a design standard for the campus that continues to present day. And nowhere is this tradition more dramatically displayed than in Anne and Charles Duncan Hall, dedicated on November 1, 1996.

Named for Charles Duncan, a 1947 graduate of Rice and former chair of the Rice University Board of Governors, and his wife, Anne, the state-of-the-art facility for computational engineering is the new home to the Departments of Computer Science, Computational and Applied Mathematics, Electrical and Computer Engineering, and Statistics. More than six hundred donors, alumni, faculty, staff, administrators, and students filled the main hall, from the ground floor to the second- and third-floor balconies, to witness the dedication ceremonies.

"The names of Anne and Charles Duncan will instantly identify this building with the promise for the future that it contains," said E. William Barnett, chair of the Rice University Board of Governors. "They are identified not only with success but also with the constant pursuit of excellence. They have worked tirelessly to ensure that Rice University achieves its tremendous potential."

Rice president Malcolm Gillis said, "Anne and Charles Duncan together are an integral part of this university, having devoted a major share of their lives to the advancement of Rice. The pioneering work to be performed within Anne and Charles Duncan Hall will reflect both the vision and the very deep sense of service to society for which both Duncans are justly famed. Anne and Charles Duncan have made a huge difference to Rice University, and the university is hugely grateful to them."

In his remarks, Duncan stressed the collaborative nature of the building project. "Anne and I fell tremendously honored," Duncan said, "first because this is a very significant event in the history of this university, and second, of course, that our names have been chosen to be identified with this building. It is a tremendous source of pride for Anne and me to have our names associated with the pioneering research and the teaching that is certain to occur in this building."

Michael Carroll, dean of the George R. Brown School of Engineering, Sidney Burrus, Maxfield and Oshman Professor of Engineering, and Kenneth Kennedy, Noah Harding Professor of Mathematics in the Department of Computer Science, all offered remarks about the significance of the building and the research that will be conducted there. Also on the dais with the speakers and honorees were Burton J. McMurtry and Ralph S. O'Connor, chairs of the Leadership Committee, and Kent Anderson, a cochair of the Leadership Committee.

Following the addresses, a small, computerized robot named Mr. Asimov rolled down the aisle and presented scissors to the Duncans, who then cut the ribbon, officially opening the building where research in computational engineering will be pushed to new levels. Faculty, staff, administrators, and students began moving into the building in November, and it was fully occupied by mid-December.

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