Longtime Rice Favorite Marion Hicks Retires

Longtime Rice Favorite Marion Hicks Retires


Rice News Staff
Feb. 11, 1999

A large framed photo of the Food & Housing staff–most wearing their bright or light blue uniform shirts–greeted those attending the retirement party held Jan. 28 for Marion Hicks, director of the department. Pondering how the photo had been taken without his knowledge, Hicks told the gathered crowd, “Somewhere or another they shut down the whole place.”

After widespread laughter, Hicks quickly added, “Those employees are the backbone of Food & Housing.”

More than 125 attended the celebration, which honored Hicks for 35 years of service to Rice. The Cohen House event also marked his birthday.

“Few individuals have touched the lives of more Rice students and faculty than has Marion Hicks,” Rice President Malcolm Gillis told those assembled. “In his 35 years at Rice, Marion has, with unfailing good humor, worked from before dawn’s early light until past twilight.

“But what has distinguished Marion most of all is his obvious affection for the students and faculty of Rice and for all the individuals who have worked for him. Marion’s first instinct has always been to help.”

That affection was obvious at the party. Upon arriving, those attending stood in line to greet, shake hands with or hug Hicks.

“Take care, keep everything going,” Hicks told one employee as they shook hands.

In a surprise announcement, Gillis informed Hicks and the crowd of a new development in central kitchen.

“It is exceedingly rare for a university to recognize a staff member by naming a space in his or her honor,” Gillis said. “Marion is that rare individual who merits such an honor. Upon my recommendation, the Board of Trustees of Rice University has voted to change the name of the central kitchen to Marion Hicks Kitchen.”

Gillis then asked Hicks to unveil a plaque–which bears the new name of the kitchen–and a portrait of the retiring director, both of which will hang on the wall of the Marion Hicks Kitchen.

“It’s an honor that I never would have expected,” Hicks responded. “I look forward to retirement, and I look forward to being among those that have a tree in their name.” (Through Rice’s tree dedication program, campus trees are named after employees who have served the university for 20 or more years.)

Since joining the Rice staff in 1964, Hicks has worked with four university presidents and one acting president.

Upon his retirement, which actually begins on Feb. 26, Hicks and his wife will move back to his roots, an area west of Marietta, Okla., where he was raised. There he will share the family farm, complete with 90 head of cattle, with his brothers.

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