Meet this week’s Centennial Stars

Carpenter and Ross serve as role models for students, faculty and staff

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 praised for their exceptional standards and the examples they set for students and colleagues. They are Office of Resource Development members Katie Carpenter, associate director of foundation relations, and Gwen Ross, department coordinator.

Katie Carpenter


Carpenter, a 2011 graduate of Rice’s Master of Liberal Studies program, came to Rice in 2005 as a development writer and was promoted to her current position in 2007.

“She has continued to shine working with staff, faculty and students across campus,” a colleague wrote in a letter nominating Carpenter for the award. “She is an incredibly important part of the office and is known especially for her quick wit and ability to question the status quo.”

In addition to her role in Development, Carpenter is supportive of Rice students and serves as a Martel College associate.

Carpenter is “deeply involved” in the projects she oversees, wrote a colleague.

“She is an excellent critical thinker and can be tough, but she’s also upbeat by nature,” the colleague wrote. “She never says something is not her job. She is always willing to help.”

Gwen Ross


Ross came to Rice in 1991 as a registration clerk in the Office of the Registrar. In 1998 she moved to Development and in 2002 she assumed her current position.

“Gwen has been a consistently effective employee who is committed to performing her job to the best of her ability while honoring the Rice standards of professionalism, civility and caring,” a colleague wrote.

In addition to Ross’ ongoing high level of job performance, she has established herself as both a role model and resource for the other staff members within the department.

Ross has developed very effective training for new support staff and carefully monitored their assimilation into development processes during their first few months, colleagues wrote. She also serves as a constant resource for other staff members who come to her with a wide variety of requests for assistance and clarification of processes and policies.

“All Rice employees who know Gwen realize that she is always willing to individually assist another individual or to collaborate in a team effort to reach a project goal,” wrote a colleague. “As a shining example of professionalism and pride in her work, Gwen has defined herself as 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.