Meet this week’s Centennial Stars

Le and Tibbits provide unparalleled support for students, faculty

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

This week’s Centennial Stars go the extra mile to support the students and faculty they serve. They are Judy Le, director of Leadership Rice, and Randy Tibbits, document delivery team leader at Fondren Library.

Judy Le

Le came to Rice in 2008 as associate director of Leadership Rice and was promoted to her current position in 2010.

In a letter nominating her for the award, Le’s praised for her commitment to Leadership Rice and the students the organization reaches.

“Judy has stood out amongst staff members that I’ve interacted with Rice,” a student wrote. “Her mentorship, guidance, trust and sincerity have made my Rice experience, as a student, truly memorable and one that I wouldn’t exchange anything for.”

From cultivating the Seummer Mentorship Experience and Envsion Grant programs to keeping an open-door policy in her office, Le is dedicated to the professional and personal development of students.

She has created programs for freshmen that will help them become better leaders at Rice and beyond the hedges, the letter said. She has created unofficial and official programs for those who couldn’t be accepted to summer program or grants.

Le’s belief in the power, creditability and nurturing of each student makes her stand out, the letter said.

“I consider myself one of these stories: Someone who didn’t really know what leadership, leading and achieving success was all about; someone who was rejected by the summer program but kept in the loop to ensure that I develop my skills and widen my perspectives,” the student wrote.

The student attributes Le’s trust and investment key to their successful leadership development at Rice.

“I have seen my story replicated across the board,” the student wrote. “Many of my peers consider her a great mentor and guider.

“She knows the importance of complementing our fantastic academics with required leadership, personal, and professional development.”

Randy Tibbits

Tibbits was hired as a librarian at Fondren Library in 1984 and has been promoted twice to his current position.

Though he is housed in the basement of the library, colleagues believe Tibbits is tops.

“Hiding in the basement of Fondren Library is the most useful office in the university, for those of us who work on obscure topics in the Humanities,” wrote a colleague in a letter nominating Tibbits for the award.

Tibbits’ area – the interlibrary loan (ILL) – provides access to materials researchers would otherwise have to fly to other libraries to get. And not only does Tibbits specialize in tracking down the obscure, but he also does it in a quick and efficient manner, the letter said.

“The master of this critical domain is Randy Tibbits,” the letter said. “Randy is a quiet guy and it took me almost a year to figure out that he was the person handling all my ridiculous requests.”

From a set of microfilm only available from one institution to obscure archaeological journals from Scotland to a readable transcript of a letter thought previous illegible, Tibbits has proven himself time and time again to be an excellent purveyor of the rare and elusive.

Tibbits work is so important that he “was one of the first people I was sure to thank in my first book,” wrote a professor.

“In a time when libraries and their resources are being taken for granted by the digital gods, Randy Tibbits makes sure Rice faculty and students can get what they need, when they need it,” the letter said.

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

To view previous Centennial Stars, visit



About Arie Passwaters

Arie Wilson Passwaters is editor of Rice New.