An Alabamian, Rice was initiated by Theta Chapter (Southwestern Presbyterian University) and received his A.B. in 1889. He studied at the University of Virginia in 1889, and revived Alpha Chapter while he was there. From there, he studied at Union Theological Seminary in Richmond, Virginia, until 1892, when he received his B.D. degree and was ordained a Presbyterian minister.
After serving as a pastor from 1892 to 1908, he became a professor of English, Bible and Theology at Union. Rice served Pi Kappa Alpha as its first Councilor Princeps (National President) from 1889 to 1890, and one of his sons also became a Pi Kappa Alpha.