Along with the induction of the six newest members of the
Hall of Fame, the R Association honors Ralph O'Connor with the Distinguished R
Award and Audrey Ley with its Honorary R Award. Today the R Blog presents a
closer look at Audrey Ley and Ralph O'Connor.
Audry Ley - Honorary "R" Award
Audrey Ley is a fan of "All Things Rice" and Rice is grateful for the legacy of Audrey and Wendel Ley and their family.
Audrey and her late husband Wendell are both Rice graduates. Audrey in 1935 and Wendell in 1932. Their generosity has helped Rice tremendously improve the quality of life, the quality of education and the quality of athletics for Rice students over the years. Audrey has always been involved in Rice affairs attending football, basketball and baseball games and the Shepherd School of Music events among others and Wendell served as president of the Rice Alumni Association, president of the R Association and was a term member of the Rice Board of governors.
The Ley's have contributed to a number of Rice capital campaigns including the construction of Reckling Park, improvements to the track/soccer stadium and most recently the Audrey Moody Ley Plaza which serves as the entrance to Reckling Park. The Ley Student Center opened in 1986 and has provided a much needed space to compliment the Rice Memorial Center that had been constructed in 1958. According to Judy Allen, a former member of the Board of Governors and daughter of Audrey and Wendell Ley, the major reason behind the large contribution was that when Wendel attended Rice in the early 30's there was no place to court his wife. He wanted a place where Rice students could interact socially.
Audrey Ley and her family share a special place in the hearts and minds of Rice athletics and Rice fans. Every trip to the baseball game is a walk down Audrey Moody Ley Plaza on the way to Reckling Park. It's a beautiful stroll before and after another big win for the Owls and a living and lasting tribute to the legacy of Audrey Ley.
Ralph O'Connor - Distinguished "R" Award
Ralph O'Connor is a Houston entrepreneur, civic leader, philanthropist and full time Rice Owl patron and enthusiast.
Ralph earned his B.A. in biology from John Hopkins University in 1951 and attended the advanced management program at Harvard Business School in 1967. He is the founder, president and CEO of Ralph O'Connor and Associates, a private investment firm focused primarily on oil and gas exploration and real estate. Mr. O'Connor is a director at the Texas Medical Center and is on the Board of Trustees for the Salk Institute for Biological Studies and Advisory Board Member at the High School for the Performing Arts.
At Rice, Ralph was president of the Marian and Speros Martel Foundation which funded the residential Martel College on campus, the Henry and Lena Fox Gymnasium, the George and Nancy Rupp Chair in humanities, the Karen Ostrum George Chair in computational engineering, four additional endowed chairs in the humanities and social sciences and numerous student scholarship funds.
O'Connor served as a Rice Trustee from 1967 to 1988 and 1994 to 1996. He is an honorary member of the Association of Rice Alumni and is a recipient of the Association of Rice Alumni's highest honor, the Gold Medal. He has served on numerous Rice Committees and chaired the presidential search committee for Rice's fifth President. Ralph is already a member of the Rice Athletic Hall of Fame when he received the Honorary "R" Award in 1998.
Ralph and his wife Becky have been generous supporters of the Rice Athletics program with gifts towards many renovations and projects and the funding of the Ralph and Becky O'Connor Gymnasium at the Barbara and David Gibbs Recreation and Wellness Center. Ralph O'Connor believes that athletic activity makes better students and better people. Since not everyone can play varsity sports, the new recreation center provides superb space for intramural and informal competitions and physical fitness activities. This is an important aspect of student life.
Ralph attends as many Rice athletic events as he can and travels with the teams to far off places like the Top of the World basketball tournament in Fairbanks, Alaska, and never misses an opportunity to host the tennis team at his cottage in La Jolla, California.
A full-time Rice Owl , patron and enthusiast for Rice and Rice Athletics, a man who has contributed to the qualify of the student and faculty experience and in doing so has touched the lives of those who compete and represent Rice in the field of athletics. It is with great pleasure that the R Association welcomes back Ralph O'Connor for a second time as a Distinguished Member of the Rice Athletic Hall of Fame.
This year's ceremony takes place in the R Room, atop the south end zone of Rice Stadium and begins at 5:30 p.m. with a social hour and the program commences at 6:30 p.m. Tickets are $50.00 each and can purchaed by calling Mary Santos at 713-348-5677 or online: