On the third floor of Rice Tower, department heads, administration, and staff filtered in steadily through the residence hall’s four elevators. Along the walls, images depicted space travel—the International Space Station set adrift above Earth, and space shuttles Endeavor and Discovery at lift off, in orbit, and in transit on the back of a plane. The room buzzed with conversation. In the center of the room, the guests of honor were taking their seats—Dr. Bill Rice, III, his wife Mary, three of their children with their spouses, and nine of their grandchildren.
Soon after Dr. Dale Adkins brought everyone’s attention to the front of the room, President Troy Shoemaker addressed the audience. “This is a day that we’ve dreamed about for quite some time, and it’s a dedication. Not just a dedication of a name, but a dedication of a building to God’s service,” he said.
Following the tradition of naming the residence halls after the early members of the Board of Directors, the tower bears the name of longtime friend of PCC, Dr. Bill Rice, III, who served on the board for 20 years and as Chairman of the Board for a number of years. “Our relationship with the school began in 1968,” Dr. Rice recalled. “When we first visited, I was invited to speak in the high school fall revival. We fell in love with the Hortons, the school, and the ministry. We feel the same way 51 years later.”
“Over the years, we have named buildings after early board members, people who were instrumental in this ministry because of their leadership,” said Dr. Shoemaker. “Dr. Rice was an easy choice, quite honestly. For his friendship, his legacy of love and advice, his leadership, his great family history—for those reasons, we are proud today to name this building officially in honor of Dr. Bill Rice, III.”
Dr. Rice was surprised when he received the call from Dr. Shoemaker last fall about being namesake of the tower. “Frankly, it is not only humbling but a little embarrassing,” he said. “There are so many people who have done so much to make the ministry of Pensacola Christian prosper. Mary and I feel like our part in the ministry has been relatively small in comparison to the contribution of so many others.”
“[Dr. Bill Rice] has a foundation that is rooted so very deeply in truths of Scripture,” said Campus Church pastor Jeff Redlin at the ceremony. “And through the course of my life, I’ve grown up listening to him preach the convictions of God’s Word.”
When describing how he felt about PCC’s growth, Dr. Rice summed it up best. “I love the campus. I am thankful for all the buildings,” he said. “However, any ministry is made up of people, not buildings or facilities. This building will be a tool to further the ministry of Pensacola Christian, but it is the people of the ministry there through whom God works that will cause the Lord’s blessing to remain on the institution.”
Construction on Rice Tower began early in June of 2017. With Young Tower having opened in fall of 1995, Rice Tower is the newest residence hall on campus in 20 years.