Meet this week’s Centennial Stars

Two staffers make an impact with their skill and devotion

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.

This week’s Centennial Stars produce top-notch work to make an impact on Rice, its students and its faculty. They are Mac Griswold, director of the Community Involvement Center, and Sharon Mathews, an executive assistant in the Office of the President.

Griswold was hired in 2002 as the Community Involvement Center’s assistant director; he was promoted to director the following year.

Mac Griswold

Mac Griswold

“Mac always has a ready ear and an encouraging word,” said the letter that nominated him. He shows “a genuine fervor for helping people,” it said, and “is always quick to lend a hand to friends, co-workers, strangers – you name it.”

In addition, Griswold spent several years as a resident associate at Baker College. “I often referred to him as a ‘Super RA,’” the letter said; he always showed students he cared, whether that meant distributing freshly baked goodies during final exams or hosting themed study breaks in his apartment.

He no longer lives on campus, but Griswold still spends extra time with students.

“His spirit for Rice and Baker College is evident each year when he dons his red devil costume for Beer Bike and helps judge the competitors at the track,” the letter said.

One of Griswold’s top strengths is the example he sets for students, the letter said.

“Students look up to Mac because he truly practices what he preaches,” it said. “His job requires that he cultivate a community of volunteers who give of their time and talents to those who are less fortunate, but I believe Mac lives by the same creed that has made his work such a success.”

Mathews has been at Rice since 2007. In addition to other duties in the president’s office, she serves as assistant to the Faculty Senate.

Sharon Mathews

Sharon Mathews

“Sharon Mathews is the reason the Faculty Senate is functioning,” said one of several letters that nominated her. “She is simply indispensable to the operations of the senate.”

Mathews handles all support activities for the senate: meetings, events, senate records, communications, the senate website, meeting minutes, the budget and more. She has extensive knowledge of senate policies and bylaws, and she handles sensitive and confidential matters “without a single misstep.”

Nomination letters called Mathews “tireless,” “resourceful,” “creative,” “extremely organized,” “a superb writer” and “brilliant with computer technology.”

“There isn’t anything, it seems, she isn’t capable of doing,” one said.

Outside of work, Mathews attends Rice sports events, sometimes traveling with her husband to out-of-town games. That interest reflects her devotion to Rice and its students.

“Sharon goes well beyond the formal duties of her position to advance the university’s interests,” one letter said. “She is very deserving of this award.”

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

To view previous Centennial Stars, visit


About Alyson Ward

Alyson Ward is a writer in Public Affairs at Rice University.