The pledge from Houston-natives Burt and DeeDee McMurtry is one of the largest in the university's history and will both sustain the current nine residential colleges on campus and help build a tenth one that's expected to open within a couple of years. Eric Johnson is vice president for resource development at Rice and says the residential colleges are self-contained families of students within the larger campus.
"It's so strong a feature of the Rice system that when you ask an alumnus of Rice to identify themselves they say they're from a certain college, like Baker College and in the future McMurtry College, and they give their class year. So it's been a very distinctive feature of Rice's residential undergraduate program."
Johnson says the university has a goal of expanding enrollment by 30-percent, from around 2900 undergraduates to 3800, with the increase starting in 2009. He says that growth costs money.
"To have the kind of leadership support from donors like the McMurtrys is absolutely critical in stimulating all our alumni and friends to support us in this new endeavour because it going to require big investments."
The McMurtrys now live in California, where Burt McMurtry runs several venture firms.