Pitt-Bradford will name its new residence hall in honor of Lester
Rice, chairman emeritus and former CEO of KOA Speer Electronics Inc. and the
Mukaiyama-Rice Foundation, and his wife, Barbara.
The University of Pittsburgh Board
of Trustees approved the naming of Lester and Barbara Rice House at its meeting
today in Pittsburgh.
Rice House will become home to 109
students this fall. Pitt-Bradford broke ground for the $9.3 million residence
hall, which is located near Hanley Library, in October.
“Les Rice, and his wife, Barbara, are tireless advocates
for our campus and, by example, helped to establish a legacy of giving not only
to our campus, but to this community in general,” said Dr. Livingston
Alexander, president of Pitt-Bradford. “We’re honored and thrilled to
have their names grace our newest residence hall.”
The Rices, along with KOA Speer
Electronics and the Mukaiyma-Rice Foundation, have provided substantial gifts
to Pitt-Bradford over the course of many years and at critical times in the
university’s development. The gifts have supported such initiatives and
activities on the Bradford campus as the renovation and expansion of the
Frame-Westerberg Commons, the renovation and expansion of what is now the Richard
E. and Ruth McDowell Sport and Fitness Center, and the creation of an annual
scholarship fund that has supported an average of 10 students each year since
In 1997, Pitt-Bradford awarded
Lester Rice its highest honor, the Presidential Medal of Distinction, given to
those who make significant contributions to the campus and the community.
The Rices are Detroit natives, and
Lester Rice got his start in electronics in the U.S. Navy, where he attended
Electronics Technician School. Later, he earned a Bachelor of Science degree in
electronics engineering from the University of Michigan in 1951.
The Rices also lived in Elmira,
N.Y., Pittsburgh, and St. Marys before settling in Bradford, where they raised
five children, Scott, Jeff, Jody, Judy and Tim. They have 12 grandchildren.
Lester Rice’s professional career
began in 1951 when he joined Westinghouse Corp., where he worked seven years
with the Electronic Tube Division in Elmira before transferring to the
Semiconductor Division in Youngwood, where he remained for nine years.
In 1969, Lester Rice joined Airco
Speer, which was then located in St. Marys. The U.S. operations merged with KOA
Corp. in 1980, and KOA Speer Electronics was established in Bradford. Today KOA
is one of the largest resistor suppliers to the U.S. market and has 17 plants
worldwide with distribution operations in Bradford, Germany and Singapore.
Lester Rice has been active in trade
groups and the Bradford community, where he has been active in the Bradford
Rotary and Exchange clubs, the Bradford Family YMCA, the Bradford Area
Alliance, the Pitt-Bradford Advisory Board and the board of directors of Beacon
Light Behavioral Health Systems.
Rice graduated from Michigan State University in 1955 with a degree in
education. She then taught elementary school and flew as a TWA stewardess prior
to marrying Lester Rice and staying home to raise her family. Barbara Rice has
been very active in the First Presbyterian Church of Bradford, including long-term
service as a Deacon. She has served on the boards of the YWCA, Bradford
Creative and Performing Arts, and the Bradford Regional Medical Center
Auxiliary, where her accomplishments included initiating the Surgical Liaison
Function and revitalizing the resale shop.
Rice House will bring
Pitt-Bradford’s on-campus capacity to 1,047.
A formal ribbon-cutting and dedication ceremony will be held
in the fall.