10 Things About Dr. E. Lee Rice & National University


“If God had a refrigerator, your picture would be on it.”
– Anonymous

The mission of National University is to deliver accessible world-class student experiences by providing quality programs and services that ensure student success through meaningful learning. National University, a Veteran-founded nonprofit, has been dedicated to meeting the needs of non-traditional, working, and military students by providing accessible, affordable, higher education opportunities since 1971. The new NU Foundation opens pathways to possibilities for more and more diverse students. Dr. E. Lee Rice is the Vice Chair, Board of Trustees for National University. On July 25th, Dr. Lee & Mary Rice will be honored as the NU Humanitarians of the Year.

#1 I grew up in a wonderful small town about 10 miles east of Los Angeles: San Gabriel. My father taught me the values of honesty, integrity, and hard work. My mother modeled unconditional love, acceptance, and forgiveness.


#2 Our favorite travel destination is visiting our cabin in Bishop Creek, California. It is a beautiful site at 8400 ft elevation in the Eastern Sierras, nestled against the John Muir Wilderness. We have 20 acres that Bishop Creek runs through with a small lake and an Aspen grove on it. It is beautiful and very relaxing. It has been in our family for over 50 years.


#3 I would love to see the Galapagos Islands and visit Rwanda. Both are amazing nature habitats.


#4 I am very visual, so being in the magic of nature always relaxes me.


#5I love playing “old boys” rugby.
#6 We have two Australian Shepherds (Hugs and Shadow) and a Maine Coon Cat (Yogi).


#7 It is an honor and privilege to live in San Diego. The opportunity to “give back,” in whatever capacity we are able, is a way to show our gratitude and to return something meaningful to the community that has provided us with so many blessings.


#8 My life mission is to return the abundant love I have been so fortunate to receive.


#9 I originally was asked by the NU Chancellor at that time to accept an endowed chair position that had just been established in his honor: the Dr. Jerry C. Lee Chair of Integrative and Wholistic Medicine. In the ensuing year, I learned about the values and mission of NU and was immediately impressed by the quality of the faculty and the commitment of the Board of Trustees to offer such affordable and incredibly valuable life-long learning opportunities for primarily underserved populations.


#10 The positive societal ripple effect of each graduate is incredibly important. NU is enabling its students to change the trajectories of both their families’ lives and the qualities of their communities. Supporting that mission gives me great joy.

National University Foundation Gala
Opening Pathways to Possibilities
July 25, 2024
USS Midway

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Esteban Villanueva