Letness receives Elizabeth Gillis Award

Letness
receives Elizabeth Gillis Award

BY JENNIFER EVANS
Rice News staff

It has been 25
years since Associate Dean of Engineering Bart Sinclair
began working at Rice — time for him to be recognized
for his years of service at this year’s annual Employee
Service Award Luncheon held Feb. 4. The task of making sure
he made it to the lunch fell on Nancy Letness, assistant
to the dean of engineering.

He’ll be
receiving a special surprise recognition, she was told,
so make certain he sits at a particular reserved table.

As Letness sat
with Sinclair and others from the George R. Brown School
of Engineering awaiting the surprise presentation, she was
stunned when it was revealed that it was not Sinclair but
she who was the day’s surprise honoree: Letness was
named the 2004 recipient of the Elizabeth Gillis Award for
Exemplary Service.

“This award
was a total surprise to me,” Letness said. “I
am extremely honored and humbled to receive this prestigious
award named in honor of Elizabeth Gillis, a woman whom I
greatly admire and respect.”

The Elizabeth
Gillis Award for Exemplary Service to Rice University was
established in 2000 by the Rice Board of Trustees and is
presented annually to recognize outstanding achievements
and an exceptional attitude of service by a staff member
in support of the mission of the university.

Letters nominating
Letness were submitted from faculty, staff and students
alike, all praising the contributions of the nine-year employee
of Rice who is responsible for, among other things, producing
reports, managing events, training new employees and meeting
with prospective students.

“However,
it is not only what she accomplishes but how she does it
that inspires those who know her,” said Elizabeth Gillis,
wife of Rice President Malcolm Gillis. “Nancy is thoughtful,
energetic, creative and diplomatic in all of her interactions
with others. She puts herself in others’ places when
she solves a problem, whether she is working with students,
parents, faculty, alumni or colleagues at other institutions.
Many people depend on her; they are never let down.”

Gillis noted
that, as a parent and a grandparent, she found one comment
in a nomination letter especially touching: “When we
talk about students … (Nancy) beams, as if every student
at Rice were her own child.”

In fact, Letness
has had two children graduate from Rice, bolstering her
pride in the university. She said the great working environment
helps too, from the interaction with the students, the prospective
students and their families to the “team of warm and
talented staff who make coming to the office a pleasure.”

“I am fortunate
to work with a team of dedicated colleagues who respect
and appreciate each other and who also are my friends,”
Letness said. “Life is good.”

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