This week’s Centennial Stars: Two staffers build bridges between Rice and the community

Rice News staff

To celebrate the Rice Centennial, this year the university will honor 100 staff members who represent the best of Rice culture. Each week, two Centennial Stars will be recognized for their contributions to excellence, and we’ll introduce them in Rice News.

Lauren Kleinschmidt and Brian Riedel

This week’s Centennial Stars: Lauren Kleinschmidt of the Humanities Research Center and Brian Riedel in the Center for the Study of Women, Gender and Sexuality.

Kleinschmidt, assistant to the director of the Humanities Research Center (HRC), has been at Rice since 2008. She started out as the program coordinator for the School of Humanities, where she served as the development director’s assistant and also designed, edited and oversaw the production of the school’s annual news magazine.

In 2010, Kleinschmidt began her current job in the HRC. Since then, she “has transformed our student programs,” a nomination letter said. “Our undergraduate fellows used to remain fairly isolated from one another, and Lauren has created a true community of enthusiastic students who meet regularly, share their ideas and present their projects.”

Kleinschmidt also has expanded the HRC’s community outreach. She developed a curriculum for middle- and high-school students to visit a campus exhibit, and she has revitalized the Civic Humanists program, which sends humanities faculty members to speak at local schools.

Beyond that, Kleinschmidt is an excellent organizer. One of her nomination letters described one of the many conferences she coordinates on campus each year; she handles all the details – from travel arrangements to publicity – with skill and grace, it said.

“She was professional and pleasant throughout the entire thing,” the letter said.

Nominations point to Kleinschmidt’s excellent work and skill in mentoring students. In fact, her organizational skills, her professionalism and her “ability to work effortlessly with people of all nationalities and cultures” led the dean of humanities and director of the HRC to give Kleinschmidt administrative oversight in the dean’s latest international initiative, the Rice Seminars.

“Lauren is a stellar representative not only of the Center, but of Rice University,” the letter said.

Riedel is assistant director of the Center for the Study of Women, Gender and Sexuality. He was hired as a lecturer in 2006 after earning his Ph.D. in cultural anthropology at Rice the previous year. In 2008, Riedel became the center’s program coordinator, and he was promoted to assistant director in 2010.

Riedel uses “an extraordinary range of talents as administrator, community liaison, writer and scholar-teacher,” a nomination letter said. His “deep knowledge of Rice and of Houston” and his skills as an anthropologist make Riedel a crucial part of the center’s work.

Riedel has developed the center’s Engaged Research Program, which connects Rice students with Houston nonprofits, and he has established strong relationships with organizations across the city.

He also coordinates the center’s Gray/Wawro Lecture Series, supervises and mentors graduate students and undergraduates, applies for grants and publicizes the center’s work.

One of Riedel’s “chief contributions” to the center, to Rice and to Houston, his nomination said, is his role as chief coordinator for the Houston Area Rainbow Collective History (ARCH), a consortium that collects and preserves history of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community. The Center for the Study of Women, Gender and Sexuality has a summer internship program that contributes to the group’s work, collecting oral histories from key members of the Houston LGBT community. Riedel’s knowledge and connections to the LGBT community have helped Rice develop “strong ties to this thriving sector of Houston’s civic life.”

Riedel is a lecturer as well, and he teaches the popular Introduction to LGBT Studies. In this course, a nomination said, he “bridges campus and community” by having students do oral-history projects, in which they interview community leaders and form an archive that is stored in Rice’s Woodson Research Center.

“It is rare for one staff person to bring to his job a level of excellence in so many diverse areas and this level of dedication above and beyond his official duties,” a nomination letter said. “As an outstanding Rice product himself, a super-committed staff contributor to the Rice mission and an impeccable ambassador to the Houston community, Brian Riedel is unquestionably a Rice star.”

To nominate someone as a Centennial Star, go to For more information, contact Rebecca Millet at

To view previous Centennial Stars, visit


About Rice News Staff

The Rice News is produced weekly by the Office of Public Affairs at Rice University.