Meet this week’s Centennial Stars

Bloem-Curtis and Stearman go the extra mile

To celebrate the Rice 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 do their jobs extraordinarily well – and both go the extra mile to make Rice a special place to learn and work. They are Sandra Bloem-Curtis and Richard Stearman.

Bloem-Curtis, the senior associate director of the Office of International Students and Scholars (OISS), came to Rice in 2002 as a staff assistant in OISS.

Sandra Bloem Curtis

Sandra Bloem Curtis

Bloem-Curtis’ professionalism and dedication have earned her a high level of respect from faculty, staff and international students who interact with her every day, said a letter nominating her as a Centennial Star.

Her competence shows especially when leading compliance efforts with the Department of Homeland Security and Department of State, a colleague wrote.

“I trust her instincts and know that our university has strong rules that help us maintain the highest level of compliance, which is due to her talent,” a colleague said. “Although Sandra has to hold all of our international students and scholars to a tight level of compliance requirements, she also instills in them confidence, as she portrays kindness in upholding the strict immigration laws that she requires them to maintain.”

For her efforts, Bloem-Curtis was recognized recently in the international community as the International Educator of the Year by the International Trade Center.

“She is a rare treasure, and Rice is very fortunate to have had her with us for almost 10 years, and I hope for many, many more years to come,” said a colleague.

Richard Stearman

Richard Stearman

Stearman, a construction services manager in Facilities Engineering and Planning (FE&P), came to Rice in 1987 as a mechanic. After a series of promotions from mechanic to energy-management technician to controls supervisor, Stearman assumed his current position in 2007 – 20 years after he began his career at Rice.

Stearman is known for his willingness to go the extra mile, colleagues wrote in his nomination letter.

“Richard is always ready and willing to help everyone in any way that he can,” the letter said.

Stearman contributions have ranged from ensuring that the main platform at the 1990 Economic Summit held on campus had sufficient air conditioning for the important dignitaries, to helping manage and maintain the current energy-management system the university uses today.

In 2001 Stearman was recognized by the Rice Board of Trustees for his efforts in energy conservation.

With 25 years of service to Rice, Stearman embodies a true Centennial Star, colleagues said.

“Just watch Richard in action not only with the faculty and staff but with the students and you will see what I mean,” a colleague wrote.

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.