Verbal Identity

We have very little interest in putting words in anyone’s mouth — especially when communicating about Rice. This verbal identity guide is not intended to offer verbatim messaging. Rather, this resource exists to provide you with the tools and insight to craft your own messages that contribute to Rice’s  collective identity. 

Your voice is the voice of Rice.

The Rice Mission Statement

As a leading and interdisciplinary research university, Rice is devoted to creating positive impact for society by championing the spirit of inquiry, imagination and individual action.

Rice Values

Rice faculty, staff and students share values that are essential to our success as a healthy community. Those values guide our decisions and behaviors and shape Rice’s culture. They come through in the way we treat each other and the welcome we extend to our visitors. These values can be recalled simply by our name — RICE — Responsibility, Integrity, Community and Excellence.


Responsibility is something fundamental to a mission-driven academic community.

We  take responsibility for making Rice better, and also for our own happiness and success. We take responsibility for our actions and words and understand how they may impact our friends and colleagues. We especially take responsibility for our mistakes. That way we can learn from them and even translate failure into success.


Integrity is one of the strongest threads in Rice’s cultural fabric.

In the classroom, office, lab, field of play, in our residential colleges and in our community engagement, we are guided by our commitment to honesty and doing what’s right. This value is embodied in the notion of Rice’s honor and our Honor Code. We accept nothing less than complete academic and research integrity.


Our success as a community depends first and foremost on our respect for each other and how we reflect that respect in our everyday interactions.

That is especially important as we learn from and build friendships with people from diverse backgrounds and cultures. The Rice community cares about each member. We hope that individual acts add up to the culture of caring that we espouse. Our shorthand way of expressing this to others in need of some assistance: HCIH — How can I help? As part of our values, we extend hospitality and help to every member of our community.


Excellence for Rice means that we are never satisfied with a good result, because we can always find ways to do even better.

“At this university, we are dedicated to no upper limits. This is a place where the greatest problems of the world can and will be solved. It is in our DNA to go beyond the cusp of greatness to greatness itself.”  

— President Reginald DesRoches

The Rice Position

At Rice, we believe nothing is impossible. There is no “what if” that cannot become “what is.” It just takes radical thinking to get there and a community of brilliant dreamers and doers to lead the way. That’s why we challenge convention at every turn: From the very way we live, to the teaching and research approaches we take, to the solutions we find, to the way we collaborate, to the way we insist on advancing tomorrow’s thinking, because today’s is not far enough. It sounds like a lot from a small university, but that’s what makes us special. 

Using This Guide

As a leading academic institution, we understand that education is not about teaching facts — it’s about helping students learn how to think.
Following the same philosophy, this resource exists to provide you with the tools and insight to craft your own messages that contribute to the collective identity of Rice.

An Additive Process (Not Prescriptive)

In order to best articulate the essence of Rice, our verbal expressions should stem from the foundational knowledge and sensibilities we all share. 

While we hesitate to offer a set formula for university communications, it is important to understand and internalize the foundational truths of our institution before articulating them in your own way. The following pages outline and articulate our mission, beliefs and character as an institution.

How This Applies

This tool kit is not meant to be the exact messaging for all of your communication needs. It is meant as a source of guidance when you are crafting messages. 

If everyone is creating messages that are inspired from the same conceptual foundation, it will reflect a consistency that lets audiences know that the collective sum of Rice is greater than its individual parts. 

Articulating Our Collective Character

In understanding and expressing what makes us unique, we are proud to weave the spectrum of campus entities and their respective perspectives into an overarching, singular voice.

1. Understand the Audience

When communicating to one of the target audiences below, it is crucial to understand what is important to them and their desired outcome. The desired outcome is the reason that the target audience is engaging with Rice. Their perception of value is determined by the measurable positive impact that Rice can have on that desired outcome. What problems are they facing and how can Rice address their goal in a way that no other institution can?

Understand  the Audience

Determine the Motivators

Understanding how Rice uniquely brings people one step closer to their life goals will help to distinguish Rice among the myriad of other institutions available. Why would someone choose Rice over another top-ranked school? What is their motivation and what appeals to them personally? What concepts and ideas do they hold near and dear to their daily lives?

2. Define Your Purpose

What is your objective and why are you communicating with the target audience? What do you want them to think or do in their engagement with Rice? Are you trying to recruit them for a cause? How does your purpose align with their goals?

3. Identity Alignment

What intangible attributes are appropriate to leverage your specific purpose and the goals of the target audience? What theme(s) can be used to add more context and connect our values to a measurable, positive impact? You can use the key themes below for guidance.

We are collaborative, transparent and focused on building meaningful relationships.

We are in constant pursuit of wisdom and commit ourselves to this endless exploration.

We are curious and imaginative and maintain a sense of wonder in all we do.

We believe in individual ability and empower people to be themselves.

4. Communicate

When communicating, demonstrate how your school, department or program is challenging convention. Use confident and bold language that is unapologetic and straight forward. Use the themes above that best connect with your target audience. Support your messages with facts and make sure that the key takeaways are given prominence in your messages.

Perhaps one of the most distinctive and impactful aspects of our identity as an institution is the incredible diversity of ideas, people and perspectives across our campus. This guide empowers every stakeholder to help build a cohesive verbal identity that celebrates the individuality of each school, department and discipline here at Rice.