Remembering Roger Rice
After a lengthy career in industry that took him across the country, Roger Rice returned to his alma mater in the fall of 2017 as adjunct faculty to inspire a new generation of students in the McWhorter School of Building Science in the same way that his professors had kindled enthusiasm in him. He had checked off the “bucket list” wish to become a teacher, but his impact on the lives of students had only just begun. He would go on to obtain a senior lecturer position with the school in January 2019.
Few were more engaged in the building construction program than Roger. He was the first to arrive, spent immeasurable amounts of time assisting students with their course work, and always had time for everyone. He often spoke of how his time and money were not his own, but rather a practical means to serve those around him. From the smallest gesture such as learning the names of every student in his often-large classes, to writing a personal check for the materials needed to complete a student service project, he was a man of generosity and action.
Roger never met a stranger. As a building science faculty member, he made meaningful connections with everyone he met. APLA Associate Professor Emeritus Scott Finn shared, “I could tell that he would be one of those teachers who cared deeply about the students and would help them to succeed, first and foremost. This was not about his own academic advancement, not about publications or P&T, but about teaching, teaching individuals, and sharing with those students the things about which he was passionate.”
As one student put it, “The world lost one of the greatest men I have ever known. Professor Rice taught me so much more than what he was paid to teach. He shared life lessons, stories, knowledge, and was always available to talk if we needed advice about anything. He knew every building science student by name and loved them for who they were. He represents all things that the CADC strives to be, and never asked for recognition because of it.”
For those who had the honor of knowing Roger Rice personally, his passing cuts deep. Yet in these difficult moments we are reminded that we are members of the Auburn Family. The Auburn Creed meant a lot to Roger, who truly lived Petrie’s words: “I believe in the human touch, which cultivates sympathy with my fellow men and mutual helpfulness and brings happiness for all… And because Auburn men and women believe in these things, I believe in Auburn and love it.” Roger’s tenure at Auburn was short, but his legacy will live on for years to come.
“He helped me understand many concepts that I had not been able to grasp in other courses. He knew every single student’s name he ever had and went out of his way to learn and remember where they were from. Professor Rice truly embodied what I think is a great Auburn man.”
– HAYLEY HENDRICK
“I remember right before our test retake he had a review session and saw that I was almost in tears. He came up to me, put his hands on top of my head and told me to breath and that he would help me get through it. He didn’t leave my desk until I fully understood the material. He really cared so much about all of us and constantly did more than anyone else in his position would do.”
– AMIE SARDINHA
“One specific memory that I have is when Professor Rice took us to the top of the parking deck overlooking the construction site at Parker Hall. He encouraged us to take pictures of construction sites and to learn from them, to spot errors or slapdash work and to admire great work.”
– MITCHELL EDDLEMAN
“Professor Rice is one of the greatest people I have ever had the honor of knowing. Over the three courses and competition team I took with Professor Rice, I have learned so much. Most of the things I retain from his lectures are not about what is on the syllabus but life lessons from his great career and how to treat people like he treated us. Every day he would say how thankful he was to have the opportunity to teach us, but the opportunity to have him in my life was what I am thankful for. His passion and eagerness to see us succeed and his kind spirit are what I will miss the most.”
– WILL TANNER
“My first impression of Roger Rice was the passion he had for teaching. He talked about how he was once in the building science program at Auburn, and he talked about the great professors he had and how they inspired him to come back and teach in the program. The last class day he brought in pizza for all 200 students. I cannot say I have heard of another professor that would do something like that for such a large class. He had a heart of gold and was extremely generous in every way possible.”
– JACK GRAFFEO
“A story I like to tell about him involves the career fair. On career fair day, students park and walk 20 minutes to the career fair location. Professor Rice would pick students up in his vehicle and drop them off at the front door so they would not be soaked in sweat. When he arrived at the career fair, he would grab you and hype you up to as many companies as possible. This was not a job to him, it was a calling. Although Professor Rice is no longer with us, his impact and legacy will live on forever.”
– JUSTIN WILKES
“Professor Rice touched the hearts of every student he taught. He loved each one of us so deeply, cared about our success not only at Auburn University but also in life. He left a lasting impression on every person he came into contact with and knew each of our names, which meant more to us than he ever knew. I looked up to Professor Rice because his actions were louder than his words, he always seemed to know just the right thing to say and his smile could cheer me up even on the hardest of days. I will never forget my professor and friend Roger Rice.”
– ALEX FERGUSON
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