Tribute for Katherine Fischer Drew, trailblazing history chair and former dean

Dear Rice Community,

I’m writing to share that Rice has lost one of its trailblazing leaders and most loyal champions. Katherine Fischer Drew ’44 ’45, the esteemed Rice history chair, former acting dean of humanities and social sciences and the first woman hired as a tenure-track faculty member, died on March 19 at the age of 99.

Katherine paved the way for those of us who followed. I am grateful that she chose to return to Rice and spend so much of her life and career here. I value her extensive leadership and commitment to excellence in the humanities at Rice.

Katherine played pivotal roles in shaping the Department of History and the School of Humanities into the dynamic, thriving entities they are today. Her accomplishments — which include a Guggenheim Fellowship, a senior fellowship with the National Endowment for the Humanities and Rice’s coveted Brown Teaching Award — are too numerous to list here. I encourage you to read more about this remarkable woman and her legacy at Rice in Rice News.

I love how former Rice Centennial Historian Melissa Kean described Katherine: “calm, reasonable and dignified” with “incredible grace.” May we emulate her in our teaching, research and service and instill in our students her reason and determination.

Warm regards,
Howard Hughes Provost Amy Dittmar