Winningham celebrates 50 years of teaching at Rice — and 60 years of photographing it
Geoff Winning ham ‘63 found his place at Rice University through photography: first, as an undergraduate who dusted off his adolescent interest in cameras to become the official photographer for the Campanile, and later as a photography professor who returned to his alma mater in 1969.
Winning ham is now the Lynette S. Autrey Chair in the Humanities, and in July he will celebrate 50 years of teaching Rice students everything from darkroom development skills to digital layout design. The shelves of his office on the second floor of the Rice Media Centre, a low-slung space with a pleasant amount of natural light, are filled with photo books from students across the years. He can recall, book and page, his favorite images and he shuffles through them with deftness and delight.
It almost didn’t happen this way. After graduating with an English degree, Winning ham planned to become a lawyer. Without the influence of one Rice professor, Winningham could very well have added “esquire” to his name. Perhaps he would have pursued photography only as a hobby, like he’d done as a young teen.
Gerald O’Grady, who died earlier this year, was a popular English professor at Rice between 1962 and 1967. He was hired away by the University at Buffalo, where he founded its media study program, but O’Grady returned to assist in the creation of the Rice Media Centerat the request of its patrons, Jean and Dominique de Menil, in 1969.