The Rice Thresher is the weekly student newspaper of Rice University in Houston, Texas. It was first published in 1916. It has an estimated circulation of 3,000 and is distributed throughout the university and its surrounding areas.
The Thresher has won numerous awards from journalism organizations like the Society of Professional Journalists, Texas Intercollegiate Press Association, the College Media Association (CMA), and the Associated Collegiate Press (ACP), including Best Newspaper for a 4-year University under 5,000 from CMA (2016, 2018, 2019, 2020), two All-American ratings from ACP (2009–2010, 1995–1996), and four Newspaper Pacemaker Finalist Awards (2018, 2017, 2003, 2000). In 2019, the Thresher was named the 2nd best college newspaper in the United States by the Princeton Review, up from 3rd best in 2018 and 12th best in 2017.
The Thresher runs on a six-figure annual budget, employs over 100 staffers, and is distributed each Wednesday of the school year with the exception of examinations periods and holidays. The paper is separated into six sections: News, Opinion, Features, Arts and Entertainment, Sports, and the satirical Backpage.
In the beginning ... literary societies unite (1915–918)
The Rice Thresher was the first student publication to be formed at the Rice Institute despite it appearing in the fourth academic year (1915–1916). In the fall of 1915, three literary societies - the Elizabeth Baldwin (female), the Owl (male), and the Riceonian (male) - elected three members each to serve on a committee to organize the paper. The committee then selected the founding editorial board, composed entirely of committee members plus two additional students. On Saturday, January 15, 1916, the first issue of the then-bi-weekly Thresher was published under the guidance of editor-in-chief William M. Standish.
New era ... democracy ushers in weekly publication (1918–)
In 1918, two seminal events occurred to transform the Thresher into its modern iteration. First, a voluntary blanket tax was established for publications and sports events. The voluntary tax provided the Thresher $1.50 from each student who paid, and the now mandatory blanket tax remains the backbone of Thresher finances to this day. Second, in May 1918, the Thresher and all other student organizations were transferred under the purview of the newly-formed Student Association, inaugurating a system whereby the leadership of the paper would be elected by the student body along with the Campanile leadership and other student officers. During a divisive May 1918 election, students who had paid their blanket tax elected John T. Rather editor in chief and T. J. Burnett managing editor. However, no issues were published during Rather's stewardship, owing to a suspension of student activities until the end of World War I. Post-war, a second Student Association election was held in January 1919 and installed Joe R. Shannon as editor in chief, Paul Frederick Bobb as managing editor, and Graham Peck as business manager, resulting in the first issue of the new era on February 6, 1919. From this issue forward, the Thresher has published weekly with a few deviations. Over the years, the sections, masthead, offices elected, page dimensions, and number of pages have fluctuated, but the modern Thresher was born in 1918.
Pauses in printing
The Thresher has stopped printing twice before: once during World War I, and once during the Spring of 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, during which most students were asked to leave campus for fear of infection.
Alternative, affiliated, and rumored Thresher publications; special editions
- Caustic Tape / The Tape (1918) - rumored to be affiliated; published as a student protest to prior review/censorship threats from the administration after the Thresher initially gave glowing praise to the military life at Rice and Rice traditions but subsequently printed student opinions that were overwhelmingly contrary.
- The Critic (1919) - rumored to be affiliated; published while student activities, including the Thresher, were suspended until the end of World War I, demanding reform in the editorial selection process and the Thresher in general.
- The Flusher (1920) - sequel to Caustic Tape; confirmed as a Thresher publication.
- Co-ed Thresher (1924–1926) - confirmed as a Thresher publication.
- Thresher Review / Thresher Literary Review (1960s-1970s) - confirmed as a Thresher publication.
- The Rice Sentinel (1990–1993) - rival publication; magazine format with a conservative viewpoint.
- Rice News (1993) - rumored to be affiliated; NOT affiliated with the official Rice publication of the same name; the fake issue proclaimed Rice had named its sixth president. Even local press took the bait.
- Regular Special Issues
- April Fools' Issue - numerous regular issues have appeared on April 1 but some have had acknowledgements of the day, had satirical sections, or have been published as all-in, satirical April Fools' Issues. Issues with satirical content are detailed below.:
- The Thresher (1927) - formatting trick with mast in the middle, upside down articles on top half, regularly-oriented articles on bottom half.
- The Thresher (1937) - full satirical issue.
- The Thresher (1938) - last two pages of the regular issue.
- The Thresher (1944) - full satirical issue.
- The Lamar Lancer (1960) - first page of the regular issue.
- The Rice Paddy (1964) - last two pages of the regular issue.
- Ye Rott Phloutor (1965) - last two pages of the regular issue.
- The Rice Thresher with mast mirror-imaged (1966) - full satirical issue.
- ПРдВДд (1967) - full satirical issue.
- The Trash (1968) - full satirical issue.
- The Trasher (1969-) - full satirical issue.
- The Reice Trasher (1971)
- The Rice Thresher with mast mirror-imaged (1975)
- The Nice Thresher (1976)
- The New York Tomes (1980)
- The Rice Thresher (1981–1983)
- Class Issues
- Freshman Thresher [also known as Slime Thresher, The Friday Fish] (1920s-1930s)
- Sophomore Thresher (1920s-1930s)
- Junior Thresher (1920s-1930s)
- Senior Thresher (1920s-1930s)
- Graduation Issue
- O-Week Issue
- Special Editions/Issues/Inserts
- Christmas Edition (12/15/1916)
- The Daily Thresher (1968) - editor in chief Dennis Bahler takes the Thresher daily to cover protests over the appointment of William Masterson as president of Rice University. The Board of Governors made the appointment without any consultation with the students or faculty. A statement opposing the appointment was signed by 61 faculty members, and students approved the statement in a 951-7 vote.
- Economic Summit Issues (1990)
- Rupp Resigns Insert [Volume 80, Number 9 1/2] (10/23/1992) - inserted inside the regular edition, providing breaking news coverage of Rice President Rupp's resignation over a rumored dispute.
- Centennial Issue (10/12/2012) - magazine format commemorating the Rice University Centennial and looking at the first 100 years and into the future.
- "Thresher turns 100" Issue (Spring 2016) - magazine format commemorating the Rice Thresher's Centennial and looking at the first 100 years.
Recognition from beyond the hedges
- In 1948, editor in chief Brady Tyson waged an editorial campaign to convince Rice to admit Black students, drawing national media coverage and an exchange of letters with J. Strom Thurmond, then-Governor of South Carolina.
- In 1990, Rice hosted the annual summit of leaders of the seven largest industrial democracies. The Thresher published special issues during the summit with the help of 16 student journalists from around the country who were invited by the staff.
- In 1992, Thresher staff served as correspondents for news organizations who wanted coverage of the Republican National Convention being hosted in Houston.
- In 1992, the Thresher broke a cheating scandal, revealing athlete corruption while the university refused to confirm or deny the events. The Thresher's coverage garnered national recognition.
- In 1996 and 1997, the German government hosted student journalists, including members of the Rice Thresher staff, for a two-week journalism program in Germany. The students researched, wrote, edited, and published a stand-alone newspaper covering popular issues in German life at the time, including reunification, health insurance, environmental clean-up, and city planning. The 1996 issue was named American Sector.
- In 2010, the Thresher received commendations for its coverage of the proposed Rice-Baylor College of Medicine merger.
Thresher News focuses almost entirely on campus events.
Thresher Opinions typically prints the staff editorial, submitted letters, columns, and a cartoon. The section has been home to several awards won by the Thresher.
The Features section (added as Spotlight in 2017) focuses on features and profiles relevant to Rice. It serves to cover the unique Rice student experience and feature events, organizations, and people in the community.
Arts and Entertainment
Thresher A&E reviews campus plays, new movies, music and often contains a column by the editor or other writers.
With Rice's Division I-A status, Thresher Sports is unusually large for a weekly paper of a small school. In addition to Rice's official sport teams, it focuses on intramural and residential college sports.
There is a section called "the Backpage" that included a regular feature "Misclassifieds" (Misclass), in which students would write embarrassing stories about their friends or funny and embarrassing quotes heard around campus. In recent years, the Backpage has taken on more of a humor or satire theme, addressing issues on campus.
The Backpage has resulted in many controversies over the years, including at November 1996 Backpage titled "Rice Women Are Like...," a Misclass concerning former Rice president Malcolm Gillis' wife, a September 2006 Backpage that received attention from online blogs all of which resulted in apologies or firings, and a January 2018 Backpage that received national attention after front-page coverage by Fox News and an official apology issued by Rice.
Over the years, Thresher staffs have reorganized, consolidated, and separated sections into new iterations and created special sections to reflect student life at the time. Some of these sections that are not currently in the paper are listed below (details to be added at a later date):
- Fine Arts
- Men in Service
- Student Life
- Women's Activities
Other departments / positions (historically)
While the official sections of the Thresher define it, several other departments have come and gone over the years as the publication's lifeblood and support system. Some of these departments are listed below (details to be added at a later date):
- Graphic Arts / Graphics
- Reporters (inc. Staff Reporters)
Paul Frederick Bobb Award
The Paul Frederick Bobb Award is the only undergraduate award given at Rice for excellence in journalistic writing and reporting. Over the years, the then-current editors in chief have expanded and contracted the award to include news reporting, news features reporting, features reporting, and outstanding senior/body of work categories. The award was established in 1983 in honor of Paul Frederick Bobb (editor in chief 1919–1920) who died that year. The winners in each category are traditionally given $100. The editors in chief select a shortlist of nominated articles from the previous year, and then the editorial board votes on the winner based on a review of the nominated articles (with bylines redacted) or via write-in votes for articles not nominated. Historical winners include:
- Ella Feldman (2021)
- Rynd Morgan (2021)
- Anna Ta & Christina Tan (2020)
- Rishab Ramapriyan (2020)
- Anna Ta & Elizabeth Rasich (2019)
- Emily Abdow (2018)
- Anna Ta (2018)
- Pak Wei Tong (2017)
- Yasna Haghdoost (2016)
- Yasna Haghdoost & Drew Keller (2016)
- Christen Sparago (2015)
- Kaylen Strench (2015)
- Christen Sparago (2014)
- Rachel Marcus & Molly Chiu (2014)
- Joey Capparella (2013)
- Joey Capparella & Molly Chiu (2013)
- Farrah Madanay (2012)
- Nicole Zhao (2012)
- Seth Brown (2011)
- Conner Hayes (2011)
- Catherine Bratic (2010)
- Cindy Dinh (2010)
- Josh Rutenberg (2010)
- Catherine Bratic (2009)
- Jocelyn Wright (2009)
- Lily Chun (2008)
- Evan Mintz (2008)
- Beko Binder (2007)
- Matt McKee (2007)
- David Brown (2006)
- Sarah Baker (2006)
- Risa Gordon (2005)
- Jenny Rees (2004)
- Olivia Allison (2003)
- Chris Larson (2002)
- Mark Berenson (2002)
- Elizabeth Jardina (2001)
- Elizabeth Jardina (2000)
- Leslie Liu (2000)
- Emily Meyer (2000)
- Brian Stoler (2000)
- Jose Luis Cubria (1999)
- Greg Norman (1998)
- George Hatoun & Vivek Rao (1997) - news category - Unfinished business: Troubles in the Jones School (9/13/96)
- David Gordon & Paul O'Brien (1997) - news features category - A guide to local coffee houses (9/27/96)
- Charles Klein (1997) - outstanding senior/body of work category
- Sei Chong (1996)
- Tony Tran (1996)
- Kraettli Epperson (1995) - news/news features categories - ESL student dies after shot to head (9/23/94); Censoring the Internet (3/24/95)
- David Hale (1995)
- Peter Howley (1995)
- David Hale (1994) - news features category - Rice from a Wheelchair (9/3/93)
- Peter Howley (1994)
- Patricia Lin (1994)
- Leezie Kim with Kraettli Epperson, Eric Carmichael, Chad Carson, Melissa Williams, and Paul Jordan contributing (1993) - Rupp resigns amidst rumored dispute (10/23/92) [Kraettli Epperson first to win two Bobb Awards.]
- Kraettli Epperson (1992) - body of work
- John McCoy (1992) - body of work
- Shaila Dewan (1991) - body of work
- Kurt Moeller (1990)
- Sarah J. Leedy (1990)
- Steven Lait (1990) - outstanding service category (presented outside the Paul Frederick Bobb Award framework)
- Michele Wucker (1989)
- David Schnur (1988)
- Scott Snyder (1987) - body of work - SnydeRemarks (column) and contributions over several years
- David Friesenhahn (1986) - body of work
- David Potash (1985) - features category - Sexual orientation: out of the closet and before the voters (11/16/1984)
- Deborah L. Knaff (1984) - features category - Remember the environment? Eight profs do (2/24/84)
- Dave Collins (1983) - features category - On drugs at Rice (series)
Greg Kahn Award
The Greg Kahn Award is the only undergraduate award given at Rice for journalistic staff excellence. The award is named in honor of Greg Kahn (editor in chief 1989–1990). It was established after Kahn's untimely death in 2013, and it was first awarded in 2014. Historical winners include:
- Ivanka Perez (2021)
- Christina Tan (2020)
- Christina Tan (2019)
- Andrew Grottkau (2018)
- Yasna Haghdoost (2017)
- Miles Kruppa (2016)
- Miles Kruppa (2015)
- Rachel Marcus (2014)
Thresher Poetry Prize
The Thresher Poetry Prize was announced in the March 23, 1918, staff editorial. The Prize was open to all students, encouraged the writing and submission of poetry, and carried a $10 cash award for the best poem as adjudged by three members of the Rice English Department.
- Roy E. Lillard (1918) - To---; "When the dawn creeps out of its opaque bed / And the dark sky turns blue / When the light of day with its rim of red / Throws a rainbow in the dew-- / Then it's time to wake and of joy partake / --For it's time to think of you. // When the sun has sped thru his path of might / And I've thought the whole day thru / When the shadows tell of approaching night / And the crickets chirp anew-- / Then it's time to rise and to bright eyes, / --For it's time to be with you. // When the half-moon's down 'neath a Western hill, / And I've told my meaning true, / When the stars look down with a winking still / Just to show they'd say it, to-- / Then it's time to sleep, to my bed I creep, / --For it's time to dream of you."
- Frances P. Fineman (Honorable Mention)
- Ellamarye Failor (Honorable Mention)
Thresher Review / Thresher Literary Review Prize
The Thresher Review or Thresher Literary Review was both a yearly spin-off publication of the Thresher in the 1960s-1970s and a contest with a $15 prize. Students were encouraged to submit "short-short stories; poetry reviews; criticism; photography; and essays of 'social import' on topics relevant to today's social problems." The editors would then choose a winner in the essays category to receive the $15 prize.
Despite not having a journalism department ever nor an adviser until the fall of 1997, the Rice Thresher has produced more than its fair share of luminaries in the fields of journalism, writing, computer gaming, medicine, the military, law and politics. Below is an incomplete list of those accomplished alumni who, amongst many other accomplishments, include the founders of the award-winning magazine Texas Monthly, a publisher of a large daily newspaper, an editor in chief of a major national newsmagazine, a president of a major news network, a White House Press Secretary, an award-winning screenwriter, a decorated war veteran, a managing partner of one of the nation's largest law firms, and the longest-tenured Lieutenant Governor in Texas history.
The Rice Thresher proudly honors and celebrates these alums below with their highest position held at the Thresher and years of said position held in parenthesis:
- E. Oren Arnold (editor in chief fall 1923): freelance journalist with articles appearing in numerous publications like the Saturday Evening Post and Colliers; Sunday editor of the Arizona Republican; editor of multiple local newspapers in Texas and Arizona, Rice correspondent for the Houston Chronicle; author of numerous books including Wonders of the West, Cattle Brands, The Golden Strand, and Native Son; winner of the Southwest Literary Award for The Golden Chair (1954).
- William Broyles, Jr. (contributing editor 1964–1965): founding editor of Texas Monthly (1972–1980); editor in chief of California (1980–1982); editor in chief of Newsweek (1982–1984); contributing writer for the Houston Post and The Economist; screenwriter of China Beach, Apollo 13, Cast Away and flags of our fathers; rice commencement speaker (1983).
- paul burka (Sports Editor 1962–1963): senior executive editor, political columnist, and blogger for Texas Monthly (1973–2015); National Magazine Award for reporting excellence (1985).
- Sei Chong (news editor 1994–1995): acting editor of India Ink at the New York Times (2013–2014); copy editor of India Ink at the New York Times (2012–2013); online business editor, Asia, for the International Herald Tribune (2008–2012); editor of Seoul Bureau for Thomson Reuters (2006–2008); deputy editor for the JoongAng Daily (2003–2005); copy editor for the San Jose Mercury News (2002–2003); copy editor for the San Francisco Chronicle (1995–2002).
- Molly Chiu (managing editor 2013–2014): producer for KHOU-TV (2016-); writer and production assistant for KHOU-TV (2014–2016); news intern for KHOU-TV (2013); production intern for Houston PBS (2012); intern reporter for The Tribune (2011).
- Joey Capparella (news editor 2013): senior editor for Car and Driver magazine (2016-); daily news editor for Automobile Magazine (2013-2016); intern reporter for the Houston Press (2013).
- Jeanne Cooper (editor in chief spring 1983): freelance travel writer, guidebook author, and editor appearing in the "San Francisco Chronicle, Sunset magazine, Ninemsn.com and Flight Centre (Sydney, Australia), The Observer (London), My Table (Houston), Jungle Media and American Way (American Airlines), among others. Guidebook contributions include Frommer's Hawaii (2015–2017 editions), Pauline Frommer's Cancun and the Yucatan, the Ultimate Food Lover's Guide to Houston, San Francisco TimeOut, Fodor's Gold Guides (Washington, D.C., and Boston), Travel & Leisure Boston and the Irreverent Guide to Boston." (1990-); get lost blogger at SFGate.com (2014-); California and central coasting columnist at SFGate.com (2011-); Hawaii insider blogger at SFGate.com (2008-); aloha Friday columnist at SFGate.com (2007-); freelance globetrotter columnist at the San Francisco Chronicle (2011–2015); travel editor at the San Francisco Chronicle (2004–2008); news and features editor at the San Francisco Chronicle (1997–2004); theater and music critic at the Boston Globe (1994–1997).
- Gregory Curtis (contributing writer 1965; editor in chief of spin-off Thresher Review): founding staff writer of Texas Monthly; editor in chief of Texas Monthly (1981–2000); contributing writer for the New York Times, the New York Times magazine, Rolling Stone, Fortune, and Time; author of The Cave Painters and Disarmed: The Story of Venus DeMilo.
- Peter Debruge (arts & entertainment editor 1996): chief international film critic for Variety (2013-); adjunct professor at Chapman University (2012–2013); senior film critic/features editor for Variety (2005–2013); programming manager for AOL Moviefone (2001–2005); editorial intern at Entertainment Weekly (2001).
- Shaila Dewan (features editor 1991–1992): national correspondent for criminal justice issues for the New York Times; national economy reporter for the New York Times (2011-); staff writer for the Houston Press (1996–1999).
- Rachel Dornhelm (features editor 1994–1995): self-employed radio producer/editor (2001-); contributing freelance journalist and blogger for NPR, including Marketplace, Bay Area local affiliates, and Newsday; 2009 L.A. Press Club National Entertainment Journalism Award.
- Josh Earnest (staff writer 1996): White House Press Secretary for President Barack Obama (2014–2017); White House Deputy Press Secretary for President Barack Obama (2011–2014).
- Jack Glenn (editor in chief 1923–1925): founder, producer, and editor of "The March of Time" newsreel segments that appeared in theaters for decades; while a journalist in Paris, Glenn was the person who reportedly "pulled Charles A. Lingbergh off of a plane in Paris in May, 1927" after Linbergh completed his historic trans-Atlantic crossing; taught movie producing and directing at the City College of New York; president of the Screen Directors Guild of New York (predecessor to the Screen Directors International Guild) in the late '40s.
- Lisa Gray (editor in chief fall 1986): features enterprise editor, education reporter, editorial board member, columnist, arts editor of the Houston Chronicle (2005-); founder and lead columnist for the Houston Chronicle''s Gray Matters series (2014-); managing editor and columnist of the Houston Press (1998–2001); editor of Cite Magazine (2001–2003); managing editor of the Washington City Paper (1994–1995).
- Amy (Jeter) Hansen (arts & entertainment editor 1994–1995): digital content editor/communications officer at Kaiser Family Foundation (2014-); health care reporter at The Virginian-Pilot (2010–2014); education reporter at The Virginian-Pilot (2005–2010); crime reporter at The Virginian-Pilot (2002–2005); general assignment reporter at The Virginian-Pilot (2000–2002); suburban correspondent at The Philadelphia Inquirer (1999–2000); correspondent at the Capital News Service (1999); technical writer and project manager at Craft and Miertschin (1996–1998).
- Jim Hargrove (editor in chief 1942–1943): U.S. ambassador to Australia for President Gerald Ford (1976–1977); Senior Assistant Postmaster General for Support Services (1971–1976); "instrumental in the reorganization of the Post Office department into the semi-autonomous U.S. Postal Service" as a "key player in writing and enacting the Postal Reorganization Act of 1970;" Assistant Postmaster General for Finance (1969–1971); member of a prisoner interrogation team during World War II and later wrote a memoir about the experience called The Way It Was; former member of the Rice Institute/University Board of Governors (1960) [The Rice Institute was renamed Rice University in 1960, and the Board is now called the Board of Trustees.].
- William P. Hobby, Jr. (editor in chief 1951–1952): publisher of the Houston Post (1963–1983); 37th Lieutenant Governor of Texas (1973–1991); 5th Chancellor of the University of Houston System (1995–1997); Sid Richardson Chair in Public Affairs at the LBJ School of Public Affairs and Radoslav Tsanoff Professor at Rice University; author of How Things Really Work: Lessons from a Life in Politics.
- Steve Jackson (editor in chief 1972–1974): founder of Steve Jackson Games; victorious in search and seizure case Steve Jackson Games, Inc. v. United States Secret Service; founded The Backpage.
- Greg Kahn (editor in chief 1989–1990): McCormick Legal Fellow at the Reporters Committee for the Freedom of the Press, which adjoined the Student Press Law Center; clerk for Texas Supreme Court Justice Rose B. Spector; reporter for the Baytown Sun; award for the year's best staffer at the Thresher established in his name after his untimely death in 2013.
- Hugh Rice Kelly (editor in chief 1964–1965): co-founder and general counsel of Texans for Lawsuit Reform (1994-); senior vice president and general counsel for Houston Lighting & Power/Reliant (1984–2002); partner at BakerBotts LLP in the trial and utility regulatory departments (1972–1984); editor in chief of the Texas Law Review; expelled from Rice by Dean Higginbotham for refusing to place the name of the faculty 'sponsor' in the staff box, but the faculty voted to reinstate him.
- Menton Murray (managing editor 1927–1928): dean of the Texas House of Representatives (1963–1975); representative in the Texas House of Representatives (1949–1975) where he was chair of the House Conservation and Reclamation Committee and earned the nickname 'Mr. Water' for his water rights advocacy; Harlingen (TX) municipal court judge and justice of the peace (1938–1942); issue editor at The Daily Texan (1930–1931).
- Dr. Patrick "Pat" Nicholson (editor in chief 1940–1942): author of numerous books, including In Time: An Anecdotal History of the First Fifty Years of Houston; William Ward Watkin and the Rice Institute, Mr. Jim: The Biography of James Smither Abercrombie, The Divers of Acapulco and Other Stories, and The Iron Butterfly and Other Stories; past president of the American College Public Relations Association; past president of the Houston Council on World Affairs; vice president of university development at the University of Houston (1957–1981); management lecturer at the University of Houston (1951–1956); served in naval intelligence.
- Eric O'Keefe (staff writer 1983–1984): editor of The Land Report (2006-); contributor to The New York Times (1996–2008); editor of Nicklaus Magazine (2003–2005); editor of Cowboys & Indians (1998–2003); editor at large of POLO Magazine (1997–1998); executive editor of Chile Pepper (1996–1997); author of numerous books including Perfect 10, The Cup, Big Bend & West Texas; and the Texas Monthly Guidebook to El Paso.
- Harry M. Reasoner (contributing columnist 1959–1960): managing partner at Vinson & Elkins L.L.P. (1992–2001); partner in commercial and business litigation at Vinson & Elkins L.L.P. (1970-); law clerk for the 2nd Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals (1963–1964); president of the Texas Access to Justice Commission (2007); former member of the Rice University Board of Trustees.
- David Rhodes (staff writer 1992–1994): president of CBS News (2011-); head of U.S. television for Bloomberg L.P. (2008–2011); vice president of news at Fox News (1996–2008); current member of the Rice University Board of Trustees.
- Col. Gene Sisk (editor in chief 1937–1938): "among his military decorations and awards are the American Defense Service Medal, Army Commendation Medal, World War II Victory Medal, Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal, Philippine Liberation Ribbon, Korean Service Medal, United Nations Service Medal, National Defense Service Medal with one Bronze Service Star, Air Force Longevity Service Award with six Oak Leaf Clusters, Air Medal, Combat Readiness Medal with one Oak Leaf Cluster, Air Force Commendation Award Medal, Legion of Merit, and Legion of Merit with one Oak Leaf Cluster;" served in the U.S. Air Force as a bombing operator (B-24 pilot), aircraft observer and Staff Judge Advocate (1939–1969); was editor in chief of the school paper at San Jacinto High School in Houston where one of his reporters was Walter Cronkite.
- Griffin Smith, Jr. (editor in chief 1962–1963): executive editor of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette (1992–2012); travel editor of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette (1987–1992); co-founding member and senior editor of Texas Monthly magazine; contributing writer for National Geographic and Saturday Review.
- Michelle (Heard) Smith (editor in chief 1978–1979): fashion editor at the Austin American-Statesman (1986–1991); fashion writer at the Houston Chronicle (1979–1986).
- Gardner Soule (editor in chief 1931–1932): held editorial positions at multiple magazines, including managing editor of Better Homes & Gardens; contributing writer for Boys' Life and Popular Science; editor and photographer for the Associated Press; author of 20 books on ancient mariners, oceanography, and cryptozoology, including Christopher Columbus: On the Green Sea of Darkness, Men Who Dared the Sea: The Ocean Adventures of the Ancient Mariners, The Greatest Depths: Probing the Sea to 20,000 Feet and Below, and Trail of the Abominable Snowman.
- Christof Spieler (features editor 1995–1996): board member of the Metropolitan Transit Authority of Harris County [METRO] (2010-); senior lecturer at the Rice University School of Architecture (2008-); lecturer at the Rice University Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering (2015-).
- Chris Strathmann (assistant news editor 1996–1997): senior producer for NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt (2016-); senior producer for This Week with George Stephanopoulos (2013–2015); producer for Good Morning America (2006–2012); producer for CNN (2004–2005); assistant producer for CNN (2003–2004).
- Charles Szalkowski (editor at large 1970–1971): senior partner and general counsel of BakerBotts LLP (1975–2012); chair of the Technology and Emerging Growth Companies practice at BakerBotts LLP; recipient of the Leon Jaworski Community Service Award; former member and chair of the Audit Committee of the Rice University Board of Trustees.
- Rev. Brady Tyson (editor in chief 1948–1949): served on the U.S. United Nations mission under U.S. ambassador to the United Nations and President Jimmy Carter (1977–1980), including a stint as deputy leader of the U.S. delegation to the U.N. Human Rights Commission in Geneva where he stirred controversy by apologizing for alleged U.S. involvement in subverting Chile's Allende government. His obituary noted that "a 1977 article in The Washington Post called Dr. Tyson 'among the most unlikely diplomats ever to hit the road on behalf of the U.S. government,' saying he was 'openly contemptuous of most U.S. career diplomats and the press, both of whom he accuses of helping to keep repressive regimes in power throughout Latin America.'"; professor at American University's School of International Service (1967–1994); served on the board of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference; served as a Methodist minister and missionary in Brazil; as editor in chief of the Thresher, he waged an editorial campaign to convince Rice to admit Black students. At the time, Rice administrators responded that the notion was not allowed under the Rice charter. In 1966, Rice challenged the charter and won the right to admit Black students.
- Felisa Yang (associate news editor 1996–1997): senior staff writer at UCSF Health (2007–2010); associate editor at CNET Networks (2004–2007); managing editor at CMP Media (2000–2002); copy and production editor at Miller Freeman (1997–2000).