Meet this week’s Centennial Stars

Two selfless staffers are devoted to students, colleagues and the Rice community

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 are devoted to the Rice community and use their skills to help and inspire others. The honorees are Gloria O’Bryan, senior benefits coordinator in human resources, and Teresa Tucker, department coordinator for the Barbara and David Gibbs Recreation and Wellness Center.

Gloria O'Bryan

Gloria O'Bryan

O’Bryan came to Rice in 1991 as benefits coordinator; she was promoted to her current job, senior benefits coordinator, in 2005.

“She is the living history of Rice benefits,” her nomination letter said, “with the working knowledge of 20-plus years on the job.”

O’Bryan dedicates much time and effort to being “a positive and dependable resource” for Spanish-speaking employees, the letter said. She developed a Spanish-language initiative with TIAA-CREF and Fidelity Investments to meet the retirement savings needs of employees who speak Spanish. In fact, O’Bryan is personally dedicated to serving a variety of Rice employees, her nomination said.

“She consistently comes in early or stays late to meet with employees working in the evening shifts to make sure their benefit needs are met within their working hours,” it said. “She always makes the extra effort to make sure benefits information is communicated to all faculty and staff” — even when it has to be delivered verbally to employees who don’t work at computers, the letter said. And O’Bryan’s “excellent customer service and follow-through” have inspired positive comments from senior faculty and staff.

“I don’t know anyone who currently exemplifies Rice’s commitment to excellence better than Gloria O’Bryan does,” her nomination letter said.

Teresa Tucker

Teresa Tucker

Tucker was hired in 1997 as a temporary office assistant in the student center. The next year she was promoted to student center reservationist, and in 2001 she transferred to the Recreation Center to serve as department coordinator, a position she’s now held for more than decade.

Tucker’s nomination praised her dedication to staff and to students.

“Teresa often takes new employees under her wing, assisting them with various office policies and happily familiarizing them with the ropes of administrative responsibilities,” the nomination letter said. Tucker has also been a mentor to other women on the staff, the letter said, “offering advice and perspective on various issues.”

Tucker’s job duties include working with students in club sports. She has “endless patience” in assisting them with club budgets and financial planning, her nomination letter said. Many of the students are “completely unfamiliar with budgeting,” the letter said, “but Teresa approaches this work with a higher goal in mind.” Tucker wants to teach the students financial skills that will help them – personally and professionally – long after they leave club sports. “She views her interactions with these students as a teaching opportunity,” the letter said.

Tucker also shows a commitment to students through her work with the Recreation Center Student Leadership Group, a committee she volunteered to join.

“Teresa worked tirelessly on special events, trainings and professional development activities with the students (many of which occurred after typical business hours),” the nomination letter said.

Tucker’s work ethic and her service to students and colleagues are exemplary, the letter said. “She has proven herself an outstanding staff representative of Rice University.”

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.