Rice University, a privately endowed, nonsectarian, coeducational institution, was founded in 1891 as the William Marsh Rice Institute, dedicated to the advancement of letters, science, and art. The university occupies a 300-acre tree-lined campus located one block northwest of the Texas Medical Center and approximately three miles southwest of Houston's central business district. Engineering has been a part of Rice's curriculum since the university first opened as The Rice Institute in 1912. In those early days Rice offered courses in chemical, civil, mechanical and electrical engineering. Over the years, the engineering program grew, and in 1975 the George R. Brown School of Engineering was established. Today the school is comprised of nine academic departments and includes seventeen research institutes and centers.