Information for Families and Guests

Ticketing and Stadium Entry
In order to safely accommodate families and guests attendance, Commencement ceremonies will be held at the historic Rice Stadium this year. Graduates will be permitted to bring four (4) guests. Seating will be spaced out in these groups of four (4). Seats will not be assigned and will be available on a first-come, first-served basis. Please note the seating is stadium bleachers. Guests are welcome to bring cushions, if they would prefer.

An email with instructions for claiming guest tickets has been sent to each graduating student. Graduates who did not receive this email should check their junk folder or any alternative email addresses that may be on record with the registrar. For additional assistance, graduates can contact commencement@rice.edu. Graduates will want to make sure to complete the ticket claiming process by 5:00 p.m. on Thursday, May 13 to ensure they have assistance available to them, if needed. It will be up to the graduate to forward those tickets to their family and/or guests. Guests will need to present their ticket (either printed or via a mobile device) for entry into the stadium. All guests must have their own ticket, with the exception of those 2 years of age and under.

Stadium maps are available at the links below. We ask that guests look at the maps ahead of time to identify which gate they should enter and where they would want to sit. Guests will want to sit on the same side their graduate will be sitting on the field.

Undergraduate ceremonies stadium map: https://rice.box.com/s/kdxmekzu1x17k989uyaxcj1abj5owl5k
Advanced and Doctoral Degrees ceremony stadium map: https://rice.box.com/s/yd3764rk5ahiuexwjre27rj3ca1jk2j9

There will be a bag-check at each of the entrances. Guests are encouraged to only bring small bags to expedite the bag-check process. Prohibited items are noted below:

• Weapons of any kind
• Pets (Exception: service animals)
• Tobacco products
• Food and Beverages (Exceptions: food for small children or medical issues; factory sealed bottled water)
• Unauthorized banners, signs or flags
• Artificial noisemakers
• Oversized bags, briefcases, coolers, etc. (Exception: diaper bags)
• Laser pointers
• Drones

Please note the face mask policy established specifically for commencement events:

Due to the crowded nature of Rice Commencement Ceremonies, we are requiring all guests to wear face masks when entering and moving about the Rice Stadium, particularly when entering and exiting main gates and walking through concourses. Masks may be removed only when seated in your own group to watch the ceremony. Please note, while we recently announced that masks are generally not required outdoors on the Rice campus, a notable exception is when persons are not able to physically distance from others.

Text Updates
A special Commencement communication system has been set-up to provide students, families, faculty and staff with the most up-to-date information (including Inclement Weather updates). To opt in to this system, please text 2021RICEGRAD to 888-777. You may opt out at any time by replying STOP. For help, reply HELP. Standard messaging and data rates may apply.

Parking and Access
Entrances 1, 2 and 3 on Main Street will close at 4 p.m., Friday, May 14. All vehicles must park at either of the following locations: (1) enter at Entrance 8 on University Boulevard at Stockton or Entrance 17 on Rice Boulevard at Shepherd and park in the West Lots or (2) enter at Entrance 20 on Rice Boulevard and park in the North Lot. Parking lot gates will open two (2) hours before each ceremony.

A very limited number of parking spaces have been reserved in the South Stadium Lot for guests requiring special assistance. Access to this parking lot will be directly off University Boulevard, between Greenbriar Drive and Entrance 18 at Stockton Drive. These passes are given out on a first-come, first-served basis, so please reserve your pass early. Reservations are required for this parking lot and can be made by emailing commencement@rice.edu. An electric cart will be available to transport those guests from the South Stadium Lot to the stadium.

Restrooms, Water, First Aid
Restrooms are open on the concourses of Rice Stadium. Drinking water is available on the concourses, though we encourage guests to bring their own factory sealed water bottle. Please contact an usher if you are in need of medical attention. First aid triage is located on the east concourse, near section 115.

Weather
The weather in Houston in May is very hot and humid. Light colors and fabrics are recommended for the outdoor ceremonies and we encourage guests to bring factory sealed bottled water with them. Ceremonies will take place in the stadium, rain or shine. Guests can bring umbrellas for rain or if they wish to use them in the sun as there are not many shady areas in the stadium. To stay up to date with the latest information, please text 2021RICEGRAD to 888-777. You may opt out at any time by replying STOP. For help, reply HELP. Standard messaging and data rates may apply.

Special Accommodations
Hard of Hearing
An interpreter for the deaf will interpret both undergraduate ceremonies as well as the advanced degrees and doctoral Student ceremony. For more information, refer to the section on “Accessible Seating.”

A limited number of assisted listening devices for the ceremonies will be available on a first-come, first-served basis. Please visit Prime Systems at Gate 2 for assistance.

Accessible Seating
Please note that Rice Stadium has steep inclines between the entry gates and the concourse. Professional ushers will be available to assist those with wheelchairs or walkers upon entry into the stadium. Chairback seating will be available for groups with persons with mobility issues wishing not to utilize the stairs or bleacher seating. This seating will be available on a first-come, first-served basis.

Special sections will be reserved for persons in wheelchairs. Because of the very limited space in these sections, only one (1) additional family member or guest will be allowed to join the guest requiring this special seating. All other guests in your party should sit in the general admission guest sections. A separate section will be reserved for parties with those needing a close view of the ASL interpreter.

Reservations are required for special seating accommodations for persons in wheelchairs and those needing a close view of the ASL interpreter. Reservations can be made by emailing commencement@rice.edu. Due to limited availability, we recommend making your reservation early. You must indicate which seating you are requesting – wheelchair or the ASL interpreter section – as well as the ceremony you are attending when submitting your request. Additional details will be shared in a confirmation email once your reservation has been completed.

Web Broadcast
Commencement will be broadcast over the internet for family members and friends who are not able to attend the ceremony. The links will go live 20 minutes before scheduled start times. They also appear on the home page of https://commencement.rice.edu/video/current-event on the day of the event.

Photo and Video
You will have the opportunity to take pictures with your graduate at several graduation themed yard signs around campus. These will be available from Friday, May 14 – Monday, May 17 at the James Turrell Skyspace, Bull & Bear Statue at McNair Hall, Hindman Garden, and Sallyport of Lovett Hall.

While receiving their diplomas, all graduates will be professionally photographed from the platform by Marc Nathan Photographers, Inc. Information on availability of those images will be sent to each graduate’s email address provided with his or her permanent address on file. To insure that family members receive the notification, please select which ceremony applies to the graduate and enter your information.

Also, complimentary Cap & Gown Portrait Sessions will be available in the Rice Memorial Center (check schedule inside RMC for location) May 12th & 13th from 10AM until 3PM as well as on May 15th after the Advanced Degrees and Doctoral Ceremony concludes until 12:30PM. It will be first come, first served and there is NO OBLIGATION to purchase. If you have any questions, please contact them at grads@mnathanphoto.com or 281-549-2367.

Each ceremony will also be professionally video-recorded. These recordings will be available the week following Commencement on Rice’s YouTube channel at www.youtube.com/user/RiceUniversity.

Lodging
Several hotels near Rice University are extending special rates for the Rice University Commencement May 13-16, 2021.

  • Please make reservations directly with the hotel and tell the reservation clerk that you are attending the Rice University Commencement in order to receive the special rates
  • Make reservations early in order to secure special rates and ensure room availability
  • All rates are subject to applicable state and local taxes
  • Some restrictions apply
  • Several of the hotels offer minivan service to the campus. If you will need van service, be sure to ask about availability when making reservations

Residence Inn Houston Medical Center/NRG Park

7807 Kirby Drive
Houston, TX 77030
713-660-7993

Courtyard Houston Medical Center/NRG Park

7702 Main Street
Houston, TX 77030
713-668-4500

Hampton Inn Houston Medical Center/NRG Park

1715 Old Spanish Trail
Houston, TX 77054
713-797-0040

Holiday Inn Express Medical Center

9300 S Main Street
Houston, TX 77030
832-371-9300

Residence Inn Houston West University


2939 Westpark Drive
Houston, TX 77005
713-661-4660

Courtyard Houston West University


2929 Westpark Drive
Houston, TX 77005
713-661-5669

Campus Resources & Dining

Little Kitchen HTX at the Brochstein Pavilion

Located on the west side of Fondren Library
Hours: Friday, May 14, 8:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m.;
Saturday, May 15, 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.

Rice University Campus Store

Located in the Rice Memorial Center
Hours: Friday, May 14, 9:30 a.m. – 6:30 p.m.;
Saturday, May 15, 9:30 a.m. – 6:30 p.m.

Ambassador Chinese Cafe

Located in the Rice Memorial Center
Hours: Friday, May 14, 11:00 a.m. – 1:30 p.m.;
Saturday, May 15, Closed