Meet this week’s Centennial Stars

Hatton and Hoffman go above and beyond

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 go above and beyond to help others succeed. They are Diane Hatton, projects coordinator in ecology and evolutionary biology, and Bonnie L. Hoffman, senior tech support specialist in Earth sciences.

Diane Hatton

Diane Hatton

Hatton began her career at Rice in 2006 as an administrative coordinator and served in that capacity until she was promoted to her current position last month.

“She works extremely hard and is virtually independent,” wrote a colleague in a letter nominating her for the Centennial Star honor. “She knows exactly what our department needs help with, and she works, in fact, much harder than we could possibly expect her to.”

“I have never seen anyone in this or similar positions who is that good and engaged,” another colleague wrote. “Needless she to say, she is a wonderful and pleasant colleague.”

Described as “fantastic, engaging and dedicated,” Hatton has a knack for handling a distracting, difficult situation with ease – be it with a vendor or a faculty or staff member.

“She knows what academics are like, and she deals with us knowing that professors do spend lots of time thinking about science and sometimes forget about logistical issues,” wrote a colleague. “I cannot praise her highly enough, and I think she deserves recognition other than us saying ‘Thank you.’”

Bonnie L. Hoffman

Bonnie L. Hoffman

Hoffman came to Rice in 2002 as an information technology consultant at the Center for Technology in Teaching and Learning. In 2007 she moved to Earth science, where she assumed her current role in 2008.

Hoffman’s responsibilities are described as diverse and include assisting all members of the department with computer applications, being on call to troubleshoot classroom technology problems, managing and maintaining the department website, guiding and assisting users from throughout the university with keeping the department’s large bed plotters working.

“She maintains a cheerful and upbeat attitude while juggling these wide-ranging responsibilities and calmly handles far more than her fair share of crises,” a colleague wrote. “She very much has the attitude of wanting to facilitate the teaching and research activities of the department.”

This is especially noticeable just before the major national and international conferences that many Earth Science graduate students, faculty and undergraduates attend, wrote a colleague. The main method of presentation at these meetings is posters, which are worked on right up to the last minute.

Hoffman often works with students and faculty late into the night and on weekends — even up to when their flights are scheduled to depart, a colleague noted. “She does this cheerfully and clearly enjoys helping us succeed in this important task. She helps us all to do better for ourselves and for Rice.”

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.