Interviewing the next president of Rice

#academics #campuslife

I’d like to start this post by saying the last time I interviewed anyone was over two years ago for a high school newspaper article. Flash forward to December 2021, when I was fortunate enough to sit down with Provost Reginald DesRoches to interview him about his upcoming role as Rice’s next president. Our conversation would be filmed, a far cry from 17-year-old Devika furiously scribbling down quotes in her notebook. 

In the weeks prior to the interview, the Rice Admission team, including my co-intern Naman, finalized a list of questions we wanted to ask the provost and grouped them into topics. We covered his background and his upcoming role as president, and then delved into specific questions about his favorite Rice traditions and advice to students. In addition to finding out more about Provost DesRoches as a leader, we also wanted to get to know him on a personal level. Accordingly, we added questions about his favorite type of music and spots around Houston.

On the day of the interview, I was filled with what can only be described as nervous excitement. With Kanye West blaring in my headphones, I attempted to power walk over to Duncan Hall from Martel College. Thankfully, it was a short walk, because I couldn’t even remember the last time I wore professional heels. We planned to film on the third floor of Duncan Hall, where I arrived to find a three camera setup, much more elaborate than any interview I’d ever conducted (hint: there were no cameras involved ever). Once Provost DesRoches arrived and we got settled, filming began. I aimed for the interview to be conversational, so even though we weren’t filming live and we could stop for breaks, I wanted to make it as natural as possible.

Headshot of Provost Reginald DesRoches, smiling as he stands under the Sally Port of Lovett Hall.
Provost DesRoches will become the eighth president of Rice when he assumes his new position on July 1, 2022.

Throughout our conversation, I learned a great deal about the provost’s background and how his engineering expertise influences his problem-solving abilities in his current role. As a student, I learned about the administrative undertaking required for Rice’s student programs. He even reminded me about programs that I had been meaning to look into, like different study abroad options. We discussed the importance of diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives at Rice as well as how impactful it will be to have a Black immigrant as our president for the first time in the university’s history.

“Provost DesRoches was incredibly encouraging, and it was a pleasure getting to know him.”

However, I also got to know the provost on a deeper level. I learned that he and his wife, Paula, have a daily ritual of watching the sun rise as they run through campus (he loves listening to R&B when he runs) and that his mentors have had a significant impact on him throughout his professional career. He even gave me guidance on future classes and how beneficial programming skills could be in the social sciences (catch me in Intro to Data Science next semester!). 

Provost DesRoches was incredibly encouraging throughout the interview, and it was a pleasure getting to know him. It’s clear that his role as provost has allowed him to positively shape the opportunities and programming Rice Owls utilize every day. I look forward to seeing what he’ll bring to campus and how he’ll connect with students in his new role as president. Check out our conversation below!

A picture of Provost DesRoches, sitting on the left, being interviewed by Rice sophomore Devika, sitting on the right in Duncan Hall.
I’m so thankful to Rice Admission for the opportunity to sit down with Provost DesRoches.

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