Department Statement on

Collegiality, Respect, & Sensitivity

The Department of Mathematics---faculty, staff, and students---is committed to fostering an atmosphere of respect, collegiality, and sensitivity. The study of mathematics is challenging, often emotionally as well as intellectually; even mildly inappropriate behavior can have highly detrimental effects on one’s ability to focus. The math department upholds the policies of the university regarding discrimination and harassment. But beyond that, we strive to provide a welcoming and supportive environment for all, regardless of other characteristics that are irrelevant to the pursuit of mathematics, for example, size or socioeconomic status, in addition to the protected categories outlined in Rice policy. In most situations, simple common sense and good judgment should suffice as guidance, but we appreciate that some questions of appropriate behavior can be more complex and subtle. Instead of focusing on this fine line, we encourage faculty, staff, and students to strive for their actions in all contexts to be genuinely respectful and supportive rather than merely appropriate.

Here are some ways you can help foster collegiality within the mathematics department at Rice University:

  • Reach out to people in the program whom you do not know, and actively build new connections
  • Encourage mutual respect for similarities and differences--in background, expertise, judgments, and assigned responsibilities, with the goal of establishing mutual trust between colleagues
  • Welcome diversity and encourage diverse opinions
  • Avoid demeaning others or aggressively challenging their competence or mathematical abilities
  • Refrain from promoting bias and stereotypes about race, nationality, religion, gender and sexual orientation, or other personal characteristics
  • Understand that behavior can have an adverse impact on others, even in the absence of malicious intent by the actor

For guidance about your own behavior, or if you think you have experienced or witnessed discrimination or harassment of any kind, we urge you to seek advice and support. Any member of the faculty or staff whom you trust is an appropriate contact person, in particular the Department Chair. When bringing concerns forward about discrimination or harassment, we will strive to treat these with discretion, respecting the privacy of individuals insofar as possible, but in some cases policy or law may require that department members contact an appropriate university authority.

  • Faculty Ombudsperson: Dr. Kathleen Matthews can be reached at or 713-348-4217.
    • All communications to the Faculty Ombuds are confidential unless the faculty member initiating the communication specifically requests/approves otherwise.
    • Additional information is available at
  • Weiss School ombudsperson: Students may also contact Assistant Dean Lauren Kapcha in the Dean’s office

*This statement is modeled after the UC Berkeley Department of Mathematics Statement on Collegiality, Respect, and Sensitivity and the MSRI Collegiality Statement.

Rice Code of Conduct

Rice University Policy on Harassment and Sexual Misconduct

Student Judicial Programs

Tel (713) 348-4829

Mailing Address:
Rice University
Math Department -- MS 136
P.O. Box 1892
Houston, TX 77005-1892

Fax (713) 348-5231

Physical Address:
Rice University
Herman Brown Hall for Mathematical Sciences
6100 Main Street
Houston, TX 77005