Meet this week’s Centennial Stars

Two staffers have strong skills, friendly approach

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 do their jobs extraordinarily well – and both have an affable, approachable manner that makes colleagues feel a part of their team. They are Marcus Elizondo, a support specialist in Fondren Library, and Marie Magee, department administrator in mathematics.

Marcus Elizondo

Marcus Elizondo

Elizondo was initially hired in 2006 as a data center operations specialist in Information Technology. He was transferred the next year to a support specialist position in Academic and Research Computing, then left the university in 2008. In 2009, Elizondo returned to Rice as a support specialist for the library.

Elizondo was nominated by several of his colleagues, who all praised his knowledge, efficiency, smart innovation and friendly approach.

“In a time where computers define how productive you can be in a work environment, technical problems can truly cause havoc,” one letter said. “Marcus is a lifesaver. He quickly and professionally addresses and fixes desktop computer problems, all in a friendly manner.”

Another letter called Elizondo “responsive, responsible, professional and tireless in supporting Fondren’s computer system.” Working with him is pleasant, the letter said, because he is “very positive and always thinks from the user’s point of view.”

Elizondo’s communication skills are as valuable as his computer skills, another letter said: “One thing that I value about Marcus is that when he is working on your computer or responding to your emails, he always takes the extra time to explain what he is doing in language you can understand.”

Elizondo’s skills are top-notch; he has “incredible foresight,” one letter said, and plans out projects to minimize problems “rather than simply implementing a series of quick fixes as they are needed.”

“He is remarkably innovative,” it said, “and always finds a solution to any problem that arises, even if it requires him to learn a new set of skills.” Elizondo thrives on challenges and will customize a solution if it makes work easier for the user.

Elizondo voluntarily goes beyond his duties at Fondren to assist IT specialists in other departments, the letter said, as well as the occasional student who needs help with a personal computer problem.

“It is fun and rewarding to work with him,” the letter said, “because you always feel like you are part of a cohesive team that can accomplish far more together than any of you would on your own.”

Marie Magee

Marie Magee

Magee has been at Rice since 1984, when she joined the staff as a purchasing and accounting clerk for the administration. She transferred to the Space Physics and Astronomy Department the next year, where she was promoted twice before leaving the department in 1998 for her current position as department administrator in Mathematics.

Magee received a Distinguished Employee Award in 2000 and was praised for her administrative talents and her people skills. That same valuable combination inspired this year’s Centennial Stars nomination.

“Her positive influence on the department is plain for everyone to see,” said the nomination letter.

Magee handles grant applications, the letter said, and the department’s funding has increased dramatically during her tenure. She oversees graduate students’ progress, and many have gone on to distinguished positions inside and outside the academic world. Magee leads the Mathematics Department staff, the letter said, “and the department is more professional and efficient than ever before.”

Outside of her regular job duties, Magee is part of the TEAMS program, which is designed to encourage leadership and development at Rice.

“She has performed her duties with great care and grace,” the letter said. “Each member of our department has benefited from her support and guidance.”

If Magee doesn’t know the solution to a problem, it said, she knows someone who does.

“From missing chalk and broken furniture to the complexities of immigration rules and hiring, Marie is the one we all turn to with questions,” the letter said.

Magee’s work in the Mathematics Department has been crucial, the letter said: “Without Marie’s contributions, many of the most positive developments of recent years simply could not have happened.”

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.