Meet this week’s Centennial Stars

Harris and Lawrynovicz admired for personal touch and kind demeanor

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 known for their congenial approach and enthusiasm for the Rice community. They are Otis Harris, food production associate in Housing and Dining, and Lexie Lawrynovicz, financial administrator in Public Affairs.

Otis Harris


Affectionately known as “Mr. Otis” by the students, he is also recognized for his constant smile and positive attitude.

“Harris was an integral part of the West Severy’s success upon its opening,” wrote a colleague in a letter nominating Harris for the award. “Now grilling for students at the South Servery, there is often a line in the evening, four to five people deep, waiting for his delicious burgers or grilled chicken sandwiches.”

Students come for his great grilling but truly appreciate his conversation and genuine interest in their well-being, the colleague wrote.

“He makes his work look easy, and he has a way of engaging all the students who come through the grill line, not just asking what their order is, but how they are, what they’re up to, what projects they’re working on, really showing interest in them,” the letter said. “His co-workers often comment on his kind smile and his willingness to go the extra mile and talk about his confident air that is inviting to every student, faculty or staff member that comes through the kitchen.”

Lexie Lawrynovicz


Lawrynovicz came to Rice in 2008 as a staff assistant in charge of event planning for Public Affairs. She was promoted to department coordinator in 2010 and stepped into her current role in January.

“Lexie makes Public Affairs a better, stronger, more effective team every day,” a colleague wrote in a letter nominating her for the award.

Lawrynovicz has helped streamline Public Affairs business functions, allowing the whole division to better focus on mission and goals.

Lawrynovicz’s strong attention to detail makes her colleagues’ jobs much easier.

“Lexie is efficient, organized and unendingly pleasant,” the colleague wrote. “A glance at her workspace will reveal that even her file cabinets, folders and sticky notes are color-coded for efficiency.”

“One can always find a smile on her face as she processes all incoming paperwork, invoices, billings and receipts, the work that keeps the moving parts of Public Affairs on schedule,” the letter said. “Simultaneously, she keeps track of the 400 or more annual Creative Services’ internal Rice jobs – no small task – with a determined attitude, a pleasant demeanor and accurate results.

“Lexie shines as an example of how a person doing excellence in their job is a valuable asset to our operation and to 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.