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Photo courtesy of Rice University

Rice University and the University of Houston have scooped up new accolades for their entrepreneurship programs.

For a remarkable fifth consecutive year, Rice’s Jones Graduate School of Business has been ranked the No. 1 graduate entrepreneurship program by The Princeton Review, a provider of education services, and Entrepreneur magazine.

“Our close ties to Houston as well as national startup ecosystems give our students unique opportunities to pitch to and connect with angel investors, venture capitalists and corporations,” Brad Burke, managing director of the Rice Alliance, says in a news release. “These connections allow for mentorship, as well as launch points for new ideas, not only for our students but also for the city and surrounding communities.”

The list identifies 50 undergraduate and 50 graduate programs that boast the best entrepreneurship offerings based on factors such as coursework, experiential learning opportunities, and career outcomes. The ranking measures more than 40 data points about the schools’ entrepreneurship programs, faculties, students, and alumni.

Also for the fifth consecutive year, the University of Houston’s Cyvia and Melvyn Wolff Center for Entrepreneurship in the C.T. Bauer College of Business has been named the No. 1 undergraduate entrepreneurship program by The Princeton Review and Entrepreneur magazine.

“We believe in entrepreneurship, we believe in free enterprise, and we’re in the number one city for entrepreneurship,” Dave Cook, executive director of the Wolff Center, says in a news release.

“When we put students into this entrepreneurial mix,” he adds, “and we introduce and reinforce free enterprise values, our intent is to change students’ lives and to create the next generation of business leaders with the highest integrity who are going to go out and create their own cultures, their own companies, and their own futures.”

The University of Texas at Austin is the only other school in the state to make the top 10 of either the graduate ranking or undergraduate ranking. UT captures the No. 6 spot on the graduate list and No. 2 spot on the undergraduate list.

Aside from The Princeton Review and Entrepreneur honor, Rice climbed four spots in Poets&Quants’ annual ranking of the world’s best MBA programs for entrepreneurship.

Last year, Rice’s graduate school for business landed at No. 7 on the list. This year, it rose to No. 3, behind the first-ranked Olin School of Business at Washington University in St. Louis and second-ranked ESTM Berlin.

This is the fifth annual ranking of MBA programs for entrepreneurship from Poets&Quants, a website that focuses on graduate-level business education.

“MBA programs are increasingly sought after in today’s environment, and our focus on entrepreneurship sets us apart,” Peter Rodriguez, business dean at Rice, says in a news release. “The entrepreneurship classes emphasize a combination of mindset and skill set and focus on multiple stages of the entrepreneurial process, preparing our students for any industry and climate.”

Poets&Quants relies on 16 data points collected through an annual survey to come up with its ranking. Among those data points are:

  • Average percentage of MBA students launching businesses during their program or within three months of graduation between 2018 and 2022.
  • Percentage of MBA elective courses with all of the curriculum focused on entrepreneurship or innovation during the 2022-23 academic year.
  • Percentage of MBA students active in the business school’s main student-run entrepreneurship club during the 2022-23 academic year.
  • Square footage of incubator or accelerator space available to MBA students during the 2022-23 academic year.

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This story originally appeared on our sister site, InnovationMap.
Photo by Rome Wilkerson on Unsplash

Houston surprisingly plummets in prestigious list of best cities in the world

what happened, h-town?

Economic investments and population growth are definitive highlights of Houston's success over the last year, but they weren't enough to keep it within the top 50 best cities in the world, according to a prestigious report by Canada-based real estate and tourism marketing advisors Resonance Consultancy.

The annual "World's Best Cities" report quantifies the relative qualities of place, reputation, and competitive identity for the world's principal cities with metropolitan populations of 1 million or more.

London topped the list again for 2024, followed by Paris (No. 2), New York (No. 3), Tokyo (No. 4), and Singapore (No. 5).

Houston slipped from its position as No. 42 last year to a surprising No. 73 in 2024.

However, the report primarily focuses on the city, its cultural diversity, and its astronomical prospects, rather than its ranking.

"In the past year, immigration both domestic and international has swelled the metro population to above seven million and the city today is one of America’s most ethnically diverse metropolises," the report said.

Houston's cultural footprint has always been significant, and has substantially developed throughout the years. According to the report (which cited the latest U.S. Census data), there are over 145 languages being spoken "at home" which is nearly as many as New York. And the city will soon have a new community center for those of all faiths and backgrounds: the nation's first Ismaili Center.

But it's Houston's stellar ambitions as Space City that is a major highlight in its shining overview.

"[The] Houston Spaceport is an FAA-licensed urban commercial spaceport offering unprecedented access to a thriving aerospace community," the report said. "The head start the city has in building a cluster of aerospace companies manufacturing locally is staggering, especially considering that the spaceport can eventually serve as the country’s takeoff point for passenger jets capable of flying at supersonic and hypersonic speeds."

Austin and Dallas also earned spots on the World's Best Cities list for 2024, but only one took a weighty tumble from the previous year's rankings. Dallas fell from No. 47 in last year's report to its current rank as No. 66.

Austin maintained its position as No. 43 for the second consecutive year, but the report suggests Houston is a much bigger player than what others have been led to believe about the Texas capital.

"Austin may get the attention, but the promise of the Lone Star State drawing Californians and New Yorkers is quietly being fulfilled in Houston," the report said.

The top 10 best cities in the world, according to Resonance Consultancy, are:

  • No. 1 – London, United Kingdom
  • No. 2 – Paris, France
  • No. 3 – New York, New York
  • No. 4 – Tokyo, Japan
  • No. 5 – Singapore
  • No. 6 – Dubai, United Arab Emirates
  • No. 7 – San Francisco, California
  • No. 8 – Barcelona, Spain
  • No. 9 – Amsterdam, Netherlands
  • No. 10 – Seoul, South Korea
The full list of cities and the report's methodology can be found on worldsbestcities.com.
Photo via Rice University

Rice University continues winning streak in new list of 2024's best Texas colleges

ANOTHER ONE

College students looking for an Ivy League-level education in Texas can still apply to Houston's consistently No. 1-ranking university before its early decision deadline on November 1.

Perfect timing, asRice University has earned the top spot in WalletHub's 2024 ranking of the best colleges and universities in Texas.

The personal finance experts analyzed more than 800 colleges and universities in the United States using 30 metrics to determine their rankings.

Rice earned first place in the categories for the best admission rates (7.9 percent), student-to-faculty ratio (6 undergraduates per faculty member), gender and racial diversity, graduation rates, and post-attendance median salary. In the categories for net cost and on-campus crime, the private institution earned No. 41 and No. 39, respectively.

According to U.S. News and World Report, Rice's tuition and fees cost $58,128.

Gerardo L. Blanco, an associate professor at Boston College, provided some advice for prospective students aiming to graduate college with minimal debt and significant job prospects in their chosen degree field. He advised that students learn the difference between a university's "sticker price" versus the net price after financial aid. It could be particularly useful for students planning for a post-secondary education at private institutions like Rice University.

"There are public universities, both flagship and regional, that offer great value for money," Blanco said. "Many private non-profit institutions are committed to promoting access and, even with higher sticker prices, offer generous financial aid."

Rice also claimed the top spot in U.S. News' ranking of the best colleges and universities in Texas for 2024, and earned No. 17 overall in the nation. Rice's Jones School of Business earned No. 2 in an earlier U.S. News report of the best graduate business schools in Texas.

In WalletHub's regional category of best universities in the South, Rice earned No. 2, right behind Duke University in North Carolina.

Out of the top 500 universities in the nation, Rice ranked No. 7. Yale University took the No. 1 spot in the country, followed by Massachusetts Institute of Technology (No. 2), Princeton University in New Jersey (No. 3), California Institute of Technology (No. 4), Harvard University in Massachusetts (No. 5), and Duke University (No. 6).

The top 10 colleges and universities in Texas are:

  • No. 1 – Rice University, Houston
  • No. 2 – The University of Texas at Austin
  • No. 3 – Trinity University, San Antonio
  • No. 4 – Texas A&M University-College Station
  • No. 5 – Southwestern University
  • No. 6 – Southern Methodist University
  • No. 7 – University of Dallas
  • No. 8 – Austin College
  • No. 9 – LeTourneau University
  • No. 10 – Texas Christian University
The full report can be found on wallethub.com.
Photo courtesy of University of Houston

3 Houston universities rise to the top in new list of best Texas schools for 2024

top-notch schools

Houston universities are ramping up high quality educational experiences for their students as three local universities earn top 10 ranks for the best Texas colleges in 2024, according to a new report by U.S. News and World Report.

Rice University claimed the top spot in Texas, and ranked No. 17 in the national ranking. Houston's "Ivy League of the South" had an undergraduate enrollment of nearly 4,500 students in fall 2022. In April, Rice's Jones School of Business ranked No. 2 in U.S. News' ranking of the best graduate programs in Texas.

According to Rice's profile, the university also prides itself as a top-tier research institution. In fact, Rice just opened a massive new research facility on campus.

Rice University, aerial, campus, buildingsA degree from Rice University in Houston was ranked most valuable in the state of Texas. Rice University

"From your first semester on campus, no matter your major, you'll have the opportunity to conduct research alongside experts," the school said. "You'll be able to apply your skills, gain valuable professional experience and interact with industry leaders as you address real-world issues."

The University of Houston ranked No. 8 in the Texas rankings, and No. 133 in the national report. With a total undergraduate enrollment of nearly 38,000 students in fall 2022, U.S. News says the university has a rich campus culture that encourages students to participate in different organizations and activities.

"Each year, students turn the campus into a town called Fiesta City in time for the Frontier Fiesta, a string of concerts, talent shows, cook-offs and more," U.S. News' overview said. "There are more than 400 student organizations to check out, including fraternities and sororities."

Completing the Texas top 10 is the University of St. Thomas, which ranked No. 216 nationally. The private Catholic university has the smallest fall 2022 undergraduate enrollment out of all three Houston universities: 2,729 students.

Elsewhere in Texas, nearby Texas A&M University in College Station earned the title for the third-best college in Texas, and No. 47 in the nation. That's big news for one of the fastest-growing college towns in the U.S.

U.S. News' top 10 best colleges in Texas in 2024 are:

  • No. 1 – Rice University, Houston
  • No. 2 – University of Texas at Austin
  • No. 3 – Texas A&M University, College Station
  • No. 4 – Southern Methodist University, Dallas
  • No. 5 – Baylor University, Waco
  • No. 6 – Texas Christian University, Fort Worth
  • No. 7 – The University of Texas at Dallas, Richardson
  • No. 8 – University of Houston
  • No. 9 – Texas Tech University, Lubbock
  • No. 10 – University of St. Thomas, Houston

The full rankings can be found on usnews.com.

Photo courtesy of The Woodlands Arts Council

Booming Houston 'burb named best place to buy a home and raise a family in America

SUPREME SUBURB

Texas homebuyers and families searching for their next place to call home should be looking at this Houston suburb, which was just named one of the best cities to live in America in a new report from Niche.

Niche is an online platform that connects families to schools or colleges; their 2023 report’s data was collected through resident reviews in combination with information from the Census and the FBI. This latest release is their ninth annual report, with rankings determined after a study of 228 American cities and nearly 18,000 towns and neighborhoods.

The Woodlands made it at the top of the list in several categories. It was named the No. 1 best city to buy a house in America, outranking Overland Park, Kansas (No. 2) and Naperville, Illinois (No. 3). It earned an A+ rating for its job market, and an A- rank for its diversity, housing availability, and outdoor activities.

The north Houston suburb came in at No. 2 in the ranking of best cities to raise a family, with Naperville sliding into first place, and Arlington, Virginia, taking third. The Woodlands has an A+ ranking for its family-friendliness and public school selection.

In the overall best American city to live in category, The Woodlands ranked No. 3. Cambridge, Massachusetts (No. 1) and Arlington, Virginia (No. 2) took the top two spots in the ranking.

Niche founder and CEO Luke Skurman said in a press release that the company is proud to be “a trusted resource for families, homebuyers” and many other professionals.

“For almost ten years now, our Best Places to Live rankings have helped people find a new neighborhood to call home based on what matters most to them, whether that’s affordable housing, easy access to amenities or excellent local schools,” said Skurman. “Families wondering about an area’s school district can also use our comprehensive school profiles and rankings to get a feel for their child’s potential school.”

Two Dallas suburbs also earned a few spots in Niche's report. Plano ranked No. 10 for the best cities to raise a family and No. 8 on the list of best American cities to buy a house. Plano also ranked just outside the top 10 at No. 11 in the category of best overall city to live in. Richardson, which is just south of Plano, ranked No. 12 for best overall American city to live in and No. 13 for best cities to raise a family.

The full report and its methodology can be found on Niche's website.

Photo by Manuel Velasquez on Unsplash

Houston gets a surprising brake on new list of U.S. cities with worst commute

really?

Given the continuous gridlock Houston drivers face, it would be safe to assume our fair city faces the worst commute time in Texas and the even the nation. Not so.

A new report by SmartAsset ranks a surprising Texas city as the worst in the Lone Star State for commute time: Garland. The north Texas city ranked No. 3 in the nation for longest commute time, according to the SmartAsset survey.

Garland ranked No. 3 worst, only out-trafficked by two California cities — Stockton and Bakersfield — which came in first and second, respectively. (Another shocker: Los Angeles didn't lead the list, which landed at No. 25.)

Houston doesn't appear until much further down the list at No. 23 — tied with Dallas. The average commute time in Houston is 26.1 minutes, while 5.8 percent of Houstonians face a "severe" commute of 60 minutes or more. Houstonians spend a tiny bit more of their income on transportation costs than Dallas drivers do (9.9 percent vs. 9 percent). In Dallas, the average commute time in Dallas is 25.7 minutes; 6.5 percent of Dallasites face a "severe" commute.

The only other Texas city to land in the top 10 is El Paso, which comes in seventh. The city ranks second overall for transportation costs relative to income, with commuters paying 14.13 percent of their median household income for transportation in the city and surrounding areas, SmartAsset says.

Elsewhere in Texas, city rankings were:

  • Arlington, No. 33
  • Fort Worth, No. 47
  • Irving, No. 50
  • Plano, No. 52
  • San Antonio, No. 55
  • Lubbock, No. 61
  • Austin, No. 64
  • Corpus Christi, No. 78
  • Laredo, No. 81

Interestingly, SmartAsset notes, despite the rise in remote work the past few years, the average commute time went down by only one minute in five years. The national average decreased from 26.6 minutes in 2016 to 25.6 minutes in 2021, they say, while the percentage of remote workers has tripled in about half the time.

"Workers in 2023 will average almost 222 hours (or a little over nine days) driving to and from work," the report says. "And these hours spent in transit cost commuters more than just their time. The price of fuel, public transit passes and other commuter-related costs can add up quickly."


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Romantic River Oaks mansion boasting coveted neighborhood rarity lists for $11.5M

Where rustic and elegant meet

It's hard to come up with a more iconic River Oaks street than Chevy Chase Drive. It winds from Kirby to Willowick, meandering through the very heart of River Oaks, passing by beautifully maintained homes and the quiet Sleepy Hollow Park.

And on this iconic street, just a block or two away from that quiet park is 3244 Chevy Chase, a romantic, impeccably designed manor home that's listed at $11.5 million, represented by Ruthie Porterfield of Martha Turner Sotheby's International Realty.

The manse was designed Elby Martin, AIA, in the tradition of Addison Mizner, known for his Mediterranean Revival and Spanish style, and built in 2006. It is formerly owned by Paul Gerrit Van Wagenen, noted oilman, attorney, missionary, soldier, and family man, who passed away earlier this year.

Unfolding across more than 13,000 square feet, 3244 Chevy Chase sits on more than half an acre. Inviting, yet secluded, rustic, but elegant, it offers everything a modern homebuyer needs.

Notably, it boasts a rarity in River Oaks, according to Porterfield. A large, downstairs primary bedroom, nearly unheard of in most River Oaks properties, with two primary bathrooms and closets.

A barrel-ceiling foyer welcomes guests. Gorgeous wood detailing is found throughout, with carved doors and exposed beam ceilings. Windows flood the home with light, and exceptional views of the courtyard and grounds abound. There's a cozy gathering space off the kitchen with built-in shelves sure to are a conversation piece, as is the iron chandelier.

Cedar lines the closet in the primary suite, which also boasts two opulent full bathrooms. The kitchen is a gathering space, and offers home cooks Wolf, Thermador, and SubZero appliances.

3244 Chevy Chase Drive

Patrick Bertolino for Martha Turner Sotheby's International Realty

3244 Chevy Chase Drive

Outside, find sprawling loggias, a summer kitchen, indoor pool with spa, and a side yard with a stone fountain. There's also a flex area that is perfect for anything its owners might imagine, from play spaces to a putting green.

3244 Chevy Chase is unmatched in its ability to be both a space for entertaining and a cozy, lived-in home. All the bedrooms are en-suite. There are ample gathering spaces, from formal living room to the den and the media room. Ideal for a growing family and cornerstone estate, this is a place ready for new memories to be made and new traditions to begin.


Cozy neighborhood restaurant from Common Bond team opens doors on Heights' 11th Street

take me back

The Heights is home is to a new restaurant with an eclectic menu and a welcoming atmosphere. 1891 American Eatery & Bar is now open for dinner daily.

1891 American Eatery food spread

Photo by Andrew Hemingway

Entree options include steaks, salads, and a fried poblano pepper.

Located in the former Berryhill space at at 702 E. 11th St., 1891 comes from Garza Management, the restaurant group behind El Bolillo and Common Bond. Named for the year the Heights was founded, its operating partners include Common Bond director of operations Brad Serey and executive chef Jason Gould. Diners may recognize Gould from his time with legendary Montrose restaurant Gravitas, a modern bistro that operated in the aughts in the space that’s currently home to Bludorn. His resume also includes a lengthy stint with Tex-Mex favorite Cyclone Anaya’s.

“The building itself has been a mainstay in the neighborhood and we wanted to breathe life into it with an everyday, neighborhood bar and restaurant for the Heights community to enjoy,” Gould said in a statement. “We wanted to create something that was the essence of the Heights and that is community. This restaurant welcomes everyone from families with children, to couples on date night, or friends out on the town, and that is what we wanted to accomplish.”

Gould worked with chef de cuisine Gerardo Mendoza to develop 1891’s all-day menu, which caters to a wide range of tastes. Diners will find shareable bar snacks such as crab fritters, Korean BBQ fried cauliflower, a daily crudo, and hot honey pork ribs. An extensive selection of sandwiches and smash burgers include a BLT, grilled cheese, the “Classic Cheeseburger,” and a mushroom burger topped with a grilled portobello, goat cheese, provolone, and red onion jam. Entree options include salads as well as center of plate items like pastrami braised short ribs, confit duck legs, and a flat iron steak with a twice baked potato and green beans.

The family friendly atmosphere includes a kids menu that features choices such as popcorn chicken, popcorn shrimp, a pepperoni pizzette, and a petite steak and fries. Children of all ages will want to save room for desserts such as bananas foster croissant bread pudding, key lime cheesecake bar, and molten chocolate cake.

In keeping with the “& Bar” aspect of the restaurant’s name, the beverage options include eight beer taps. Cocktail choices start with margarita and mimosa flights as well as seasonal takes on classics like the Old Fashioned and Moscow Mule. A tidy list of wines by-the-glass and bottle rounds out the options.

Currently, the restaurant is open for lunch during the week and dinner night, staying open until midnight on Friday and Saturday. Weekend brunch service will begin in mid-December.

A magical conversation with the Sugar Plum Fairy from Houston Ballet's The Nutcracker

Holiday Magic

Since 2016, Houston Ballet has been performing artistic director Stanton Welch's version of holiday favorite The Nutcracker, and first soloist Tyler Donatelli has been a part of it since the beginning.

The dancer, who has risen quickly through Houston Ballet's ranks since joining the company in 2014 — having studied at Houston Ballet Academy and Houston Ballet II before that — this year dances the dual roles of Clara and the Sugar Plum Fairy.

These two iconic roles define ballet for many young dancers, and Donatelli is acutely aware of the impact she can make on the more than 70,000 patrons who see The Nutcracker each year.

She recently sat down with CultureMap to discuss her history with the ballet, which runs November 24-December 27 at Wortham Theater Center.

CultureMap: What is your history with this version of The Nutcracker?

Tyler Donatelli: I've played Clara every year since it debuted in 2016, and I feel like I've played every other role too! Snow, a flower, a soldier, the sugar plum doll — everything but the children. When I first started I was 19 and in the corps de ballet, then progressed to solos...the years do go by.

CM: What's it like revisiting this ballet year after year?

TD: I use it as a gauge to see how in shape I am! It's a good check-in with my body, to see how my stamina and technique are compared to the year before.

CM: What's it like dancing the role of Clara?

TD: She's such a fun role. I literally get to act like a little girl on Christmas! I do try to find new nuances each year and refine my technique — being so familiar with the steps, I really get to play with it and put focus on character development. We all work really hard to make sure that story is the central role in this ballet.

You know there are little girls out there seeing ballet for the first time, and this version of The Nutcracker, with all its spectacle and beautiful costumes, really opens the audience's eyes to how palatable ballet can be.

CM: And how is it dancing the Sugar Plum Fairy?

TD: I love doing Clara, but technique-wise I really love doing the Sugar Plum Fairy.

She's such a contrast — she is literally queen of the Land of the Sweets! — and I really like discovering how fairy-like I can be in that role.

She is known for being quite a difficult role to dance. Her pas de deux and variation are known to be long and hard to do, and there's a lot of pressure that comes with the role. With all those little girls out there watching, I don't want to get it wrong!

CM: What can audiences expect with The Nutcracker?

TD: There is just so much to see and the storytelling stretches across the whole stage.

It's like opening one of those picture books where there are a thousand things happening on one page. You can be looking at a dancer on the left, but the dancers on the right and center are doing something just as interesting. The more times you see it, the more you'll notice.

CM: What is special about Houston Ballet and Stanton Welch's version of The Nutcracker?

TD: The Nutcracker is a lot of people's entrance into ballet, and sometimes it's the only ballet they ever go see. I think this one sets audiences up to understand the principles of ballet: pas de deux, big group numbers, solos, etc. The familiarity of the story is nice, because it lets people focus on the dance itself and become more comfortable with that.

But all our other ballets are magical in their own way. Let The Nutcracker be your first ballet, but please don't let it be your last.

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Houston Ballet's The Nutcracker runs at the Wortham Theater Center from November 24-December 27. Tickets start at $30, and can be purchased by calling 713-227-2787 or visiting the website.

Houston Ballet first soloist Tyler Donatelli as Clara and soloist Eric Best as Fritz with students of the Houston Ballet Academy in Stanton Welch’s The Nutcracker.

Houston Ballet The Nutcracker
Photo by Lawrence Elizabeth Knox, courtesy of Houston Ballet
Houston Ballet first soloist Tyler Donatelli as Clara and soloist Eric Best as Fritz with students of the Houston Ballet Academy in Stanton Welch’s The Nutcracker.