George Erik Rupp, dean of Harvard Divinity School, becomes the 5th president and 1st humanist to lead Rice University when Norman Hackerman retires in 1985. Rupp's selection reflects Rice's evolution from a technically oriented institute to a broadly balanced university. During his tenure, Rupp advocates faculty enhancement, emphasizes research and graduate studies and introduces curricular innovations. In a significant development, Rupp founds 5 multidisciplinary research centers that become models for future research expansion.
After a building hiatus of 10 years, Rupp supervises major renovations to 4 buildings and authorizes 2 new construction projects - the Seeley G. Mudd Computer Science Building and Herring Hall (to house the Jones Graduate School of Administration).
In 1986 Rice alumnus Larry McMurtry wins the Pulitzer Prize in fiction for his novel Lonesome Dove.