Meet this week’s Centennial Stars

Beck and Martinez influence extends past the hedges

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 are lauded for using positivity and professionalism to forge lasting relationships on campus and beyond the hedges. They are Dagmar Beck, director of the Professional Master’s Program at the Wiess School of Natural Sciences, and Ipek Martinez, associate dean of the School of Social Sciences.

Dagmar Beck

Beck came to Rice in 2002 as a staff assistant in the Office of the Dean of Natural Sciences. She has been promoted twice, first in 2005 to program administrator of the Professional Master’s Program and second in 2008 to her current position.

Since assuming leadership of the professional master’s program, Beck has helped to enhance the original three tracks — environmental analysis and decision-making, nanoscale physics and subsurface geoscience — and has helped to develop two new tracks of study now being offered — bioscience research and health policy and space studies. The program’s enrollment this fall is 46 students.

“She embodies exceptional dedication to the students, a compelling ability to connect with the private sector in finding support and internships, and the rare capacity to charm the faculty and thoroughly engage them in the program,” a colleague wrote in a nomination letter.

Colleagues said that Beck also demonstrates creativity, positivity and the highest standards for excellence in everything she does.

“She has inspired students, faculty and extramural associates of the Professional Science Masters programs and has been the catalyst for the impressive growth of these programs at Rice,” a colleague wrote. “She is a real Rice star in every way.”

Ipek Martinez

Martinez came to Rice in 1998 as a budget analyst for the university. She was promoted in 2000 to senior budget analyst. For the past seven years she has served as associate dean in the School of Social Sciences.

Martinez is described as an “exceptional employee” who gives “110 percent effort on everything she does.”

“She meticulously manages all of our budgets and knows on a moment’s notice what funds are where,” a colleague wrote. “She deftly handles the organizational and personnel structure of the school, making sure that our employees are well placed in their jobs and that our organizations make sense.”

Martinez also oversees the Gateway Program for undergraduates, which gives students an opportunity to explore independent research projects, internships and international experiences.

“In particular, Ipek has devised a very successful program in Istanbul, Turkey, during spring break to permit students the chance to explore another culture,” wrote a colleague.

Beyond the many hats she wears in Social Sciences, Martinez can also be seen taking photographs at many Rice events.

“Ipek’s passion for photography takes her from Beer Bike to commencement as she records many of the best moments at Rice,” a colleague wrote. “She is truly a Centennial Star.”

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.