Two staffers ‘exemplify the Rice way’ with smart enthusiasm

Meet this week’s Centennial Stars

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 share a remarkable work ethic and are eager to use their skills to help others. They are Kimberly Koehn, an associate athletic director for development and annual gifts, and Kate Wright Cross, associate registrar and data manager in the Office of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies (GPS).

Kim Koehn


Koehn earned a bachelor’s degree from Rice in 2000 and was hired as a marketing assistant in Athletics the same year. In 2002, she became coordinator of baseball operations, and two years later she was promoted to director of baseball operations.

In 2008, Koehn became assistant athletic director specializing in team giving and special events. And in 2011, she was promoted to her current position of associate athletic director.

“Kim truly understands and exemplifies the vision of Rice,” said the letter that nominated her for Centennial Star recognition. “Her hard work and dedication to the Athletics Department and the university as a whole have earned her various promotions, yet she maintains an ‘all hands on deck’ work ethic, never perceiving any job below herself and never ceasing to help others.”

Koehn has served Athletics in several capacities, but her drive to make Rice an elite athletic program never wanes, the letter said.

“She is a constant source of guidance, thoughtfulness and respect,” the letter said. “Her hard work, creativity, moral conscience and positive attitude consistently serve as inspiration to others.”

Koehn serves on the Women’s Athletics Advisory Board, and she is the only female member of the Rice University Baseball Players Alumni group. She stays connected to students by serving as an associate at Brown College.

“Kim is truly a reflection of all that Rice has to celebrate,” the letter said. “Her enthusiasm, class and grace exemplify the Rice way.”

Kate Cross


Cross came to Rice in 2008 – first as a temporary database coordinator in the Office of Technology Transfer, then as admissions and enrollment manager for GPS.

“She jumped right into the job,” said one of several letters that nominated Cross; she listened to administrators and her office colleagues to understand the GPS office’s challenges, then threw herself into the task of automating the office and unifying systems across campus. By 2011, Cross had made such an impact on the way her office operates that she was promoted to her current position.“

“Kate has consistently excelled at implementing new ideas and programs,” another nomination letter said.

Cross’ first innovation was to develop a report system in Banner, the database for managing Rice’s financial, human resource, payroll, student, sponsored research and related activities. Her efforts eliminated the need for 3,000 confirmation emails a year. Since then she has led the implementation of GradAdmit, a new in-house graduate application system; she also has worked with the Registrar’s Office and Administrative Systems to build “data infrastructure” such as GradTrack, a graduate student tracking system.

Cross has led the conversion of official graduate student files from paper to digital format, and she has taught workshops and offered training sessions on extracting student data from Banner, pivot tables and other ways to help Rice’s graduate coordinators use technology to make their jobs easier.

“I have noticed how much my job has changed and gotten easier over the years because of all the work she has put into her job,” said one nomination letter.

Most recently, Cross worked with Fondren Library to create a new electronic thesis submission system that has replaced the printing and binding of paper theses.

“As the demand for institutional data increases, Kate’s talents are much in demand and frequently used by senior administrators for strategic planning and reporting,” one letter said.

The letter praised Cross’ “consistent and competent helpfulness, patience, cheerfulness, and fun and creative training and communications.”

“Kate is a model of above-and-beyond customer service,” it said. “It’s hard to imagine a more worthy recipient of the Centennial Star 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.