John Wooley, who wrote a book about the school’s past, said his study revealed a complex story.
"I don’t know of any other school in Oklahoma that has such a rich history,” he said.
RSU’s history includes troubled phases. Several times, it was able to stay afloat through the work of committed politicians. Each time, the college increased in size and capability, Wooley said.
"I think that the history tells you it’s never really taken a step back,” he said.
Rice is well aware of the importance of political friends in RSU’s history. He got to know some of them as a member of the Oklahoma Legislature.
"I’ve watched the school grow and change,” he said. "I was in the Legislature when we gave it authority to be a stand-alone university.”