Crystal Davis honored with Elizabeth Gillis Award

Knowledgeable. Responsive. Wonderful sense of humor. Calm demeanor. Cheerful. Imperturbable. These are the words used by Crystal Davis’ many admiring colleagues as they nominated her for the 2012 Elizabeth Gillis Award for Exemplary Service.

Crystal Davis accepting her award

Pictured from left are Crystal Davis, Elizabeth Gillis and President David Leebron. Photo by Jeff Fitlow

President David Leebron presented Davis ’87, the current funds accounting manager in the Controller’s Office, with the award during the town hall meeting March 7 in Rice Memorial Center’s Grand Hall. Established in 2000 by the Rice Board of Trustees, the Gillis Award recognizes outstanding achievements and service by a staff member in support of the university’s mission.

Davis began her career at Rice in 1995 as an accountant and was promoted to accounting manager in 1999.

Guy Booker, assistant controller for current funds and investment accounting, said some of Davis’ key responsibilities as current funds manager include:

Taking a lead role in the preparation of the university’s financial statements and providing supporting schedules for the statements while fielding numerous questions from auditors.

  • Coordinating the preparation of the university’s tax return.
  • Ensuring that the monthly accounting close of current funds occurs on a schedule with accuracy and completeness.
  • Providing accounting system training for university administrators and college treasurers.
  • Preparing numerous financial reports for the university, many of which are filed with the government or shared with the Board of Trustees.

“The Finance Division and I recommend Crystal Davis for the Elizabeth Gillis Award because of her consistently strong performance in managing increasingly complicated accounting and tax matters for the university and for her cheerful service to help the campus with accounting issues, whether it is teaching college treasurers how to use Banner or answering questions from department administrators and her colleagues across the campus,” wrote Kathy Collins, vice president for finance, in her nomination letter.   “Crystal helps others.”

Davis, a Lovett College alum, also serves as an associate at the college and served on the Residential Colleges Management Advisory Committee, which reviews issues between the residential colleges and students. The last two years, Davis has been a university instructor for a tax class that introduced students to the preparation of personal income tax returns.

Davis’ generosity, willingness to help and kind demeanor are well recognized among her colleagues from nine different departments who wrote letters of recommendation for her to receive a Distinguished Employee Award in 2007 and a Centennial Star Award this year.

“Crystal is probably the most helpful person in the Controller’s Office,” wrote Joyce Bald, college coordinator at Hanszen College. “She is always willing to help no matter what.”

Nancy Letness, college coordinator at Wiess College, described Davis as “the most helpful person” and  “upbeat.”

“She will offer suggestions and doesn’t make one feel stupid for asking for help,” Letness wrote. “She patiently explains the ‘why’ for required procedures and not just respond with ‘that’s the way it’s done.’”

Davis joins a distinguished list of recipients of the Elizabeth Gillis Award.  To view past recipients of the award, visit



About Arie Passwaters

Arie Wilson Passwaters is editor of Rice New.