ARA to present Gold Medal, Distinguished Alumni, Meritorious Service awards

Rice alumnus Russ Pitman is being recognized for his extraordinary service to the university with the Association of Rice Alumni’s (ARA) highest award – the Gold Medal – at this year’s annual ARA Laureates Dinner May 11. The association is also honoring nine others for distinguished accomplishments and meritorious service.

Gold Medal: Russell “Russ” Pitman ’58

Russ Pitman

Russ Pitman

For more than 60 years, Russ Pitman has been a vital part of Rice. Affectionately known as “Mr. Rice,” Pitman earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration and economics from Rice in 1958 and has tirelessly served the university since his matriculation. As a staff member at Rice, he served as the university’s chief accountant, assistant to Rice President Norman Hackerman and then manager of Campus Business Affairs until his retirement in 1980. He received the Association of Rice Alumni’s Meritorious Service Award in 1988.

Through his extraordinary generosity spanning dozens of awards, endowments and scholarships for students and faculty, Pitman has helped cultivate a stronger future for Rice. There is scarcely a space or cause on campus that has not benefited from his support, including the schools of Architecture, Engineering, Humanities, Social Sciences, Business, Music and Continuing Studies, Rice Athletics, Enrollment, Fondren Library and the Moody Center for the Arts. The Pitman Oculus at the Moody and Pitman Tower in the Humanities Building are just two of several landmarks that bear his name. Many of his generous gifts to the university are made in honor of his friends and loved ones, including the W. Edwin Bryan Jr. Plaza at the Barbara and David Gibbs Recreation and Wellness Center, named after his late partner of 55 years.

Pitman’s generosity extends well beyond Rice’s hedges. In 1984, he established the Russ Pitman Park in Bellaire, Texas. In 2000, he endowed six professorships at the University of Oklahoma, his father’s alma mater.

Through his leadership, creativity and philanthropic support, Pitman has created a legacy that will continue to advance the values and goals of the university forever.

Distinguished Alumni Award

Five Rice alumni earned the 2019 Distinguished Alumni Award, which is presented to graduates who have advanced the interests and standards of excellence of Rice University through distinctive professional or volunteer careers.

James L. Burch ’68 

James L. Burch

James L. Burch

Renowned space scientist James L. Burch has served as vice president of the Space Science and Engineering Division at the Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) since 1985. The group, which is comprised of more than 380 scientists, engineers and support staff, has become a center of excellence for NASA heliophysics and planetary science research.

Burch earned a bachelor’s degree in physics from St. Mary’s University, his doctorate in space science from Rice and a master’s degree in research and development management from George Washington University. Following his service as an officer in the U.S. Army from 1968 to 1971, he joined NASA as a space scientist. In 1977, he founded the first Space Science group at SwRI. His accomplishments in the field of space physics are numerable. His team provided instruments, or led an entire mission, on numerous occasions, and his leadership propelled SwRI to its position as one of the strongest space research labs in the world. He also has served selflessly on many panels and committees for NASA, the European Space Agency, the National Academy of Sciences, the American Geophysical Union and the American Institute of Physics. His current research continues his work as principal investigator of the NASA Magnetospheric Multiscale mission, for which he designed a new generation plasma composition analyzer.

As one nominator shared, “Jim cares about scientists as much as he cares about science.” Many graduate students from Rice have gained real-world experience in projects at SwRI, and Burch’s endowment of undergraduate scholarships at the university has further extended his impact.

Mark Durcan ’83, ’84

Mark Durcan

Mark Durcan

Mark Durcan’s career with Micron Technology, a computer memory and storage products manufacturer, began immediately after the conclusion of his master’s program at Rice in 1984. Since then, wrote one of his nominators, “Mark has become something of a semiconductor industry legend.”

Durcan took on increasing responsibilities at Micron, moving from process engineer to vice president of research and development, chief technology officer and president and chief operating officer. He distinguished himself as an industry innovator, authoring more than 100 patents and expanding Micron’s global presence through enhanced capabilities and acquisitions. In 2012, Durcan put his planned retirement on hold after the tragic death of Micron’s CEO. His five-year tenure as CEO ensured that the company continued to thrive in the competitive global market for memory chips and storage. In 2017, he received the Semiconductor Industry Association’s top honor for his transformational lifetime contributions to the U.S. semiconductor industry.

Durcan has also transformed lives at Rice, and many other institutions, through his philanthropic efforts. As the longtime chairman of the Micron Technology Foundation, he oversaw the foundation’s mission to advance STEM education and support civic and charitable institutions in communities where Micron had a presence.

While earning bachelor’s and master’s degrees in chemical engineering at Rice, Durcan was an active participant in college life at Sid Richardson College, where he served in student government and played numerous intramural sports. The college recognized his many contributions with an Athenian Award in 2013.

Timothy E. Holy ’91

Timothy E. Holy

Timothy E. Holy

Timothy E. Holy is an international leader in systems neuroscience whose work is marked by exciting discoveries and technological innovations. He also has volunteered countless hours on open-source software development that benefits the greater scientific community.

Holy holds a bachelor’s degree in mathematics and physics from Rice, where he graduated summa cum laude, and a master’s and doctorate in physics from Princeton University. He currently is the Alan A. and Edith L. Wolff Professor of Neuroscience at the Washington University School of Medicine, where he has been on the faculty since 2001. A prominent and influential research scientist known for his creativity and rigor, Holy made remarkable strides in several fields of neuroscience, including mouse vocalization, imaging and olfaction. Among other contributions, he is a co-inventor of the light sheet microscopy imaging technique. His research provides invaluable insight into how chemical cues are used for social communication.

“Tim is an extremely generous scientist,” wrote one nominator. “He is genuinely collaborative, and indeed represents a key node for scientific interactions.” Holy’s generosity is readily apparent in his extensive contributions to the open-source development of the Julia programming language. He also shines in his training of the next generation of scientists and has received five Distinguished Teaching Service Awards and the Distinguished Investigator Award from the Washington University School of Medicine, in addition to numerous other honors. Perhaps one nominator put it best when explaining his interactions with Holy: “It is simply a joy to interact with such a gifted scientist.”

Cristle Collins Judd ’83

Cristle Collins Judd

Cristle Collins Judd

Cristle Collins Judd has made significant contributions to the fields of music theory and musicology, as well as academic administration, at each of the distinguished institutions she has served. She was the first woman tenured in the music department at the University of Pennsylvania, where she was also the inaugural recipient of the Dean’s Award for Innovation in Teaching. At Bowdoin College, she served with distinction as the first female academic dean and chief academic officer.

Judd is currently the 11th president of Sarah Lawrence College. As one nominator declares, she “has now risen to the highest level of academia of any musicologist I have known or heard of.” This role follows her recent service as a senior program officer at The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, where she supervised grants that bolstered humanities scholarship, undergraduate and doctoral education in the humanities and the public humanities.

Alongside an illustrious career in academic and foundation administration, Judd is a highly respected and eminent scholar of music of the Renaissance. Her work uniquely bridges the realms of theory, composition, humanist writings and culture. In addition to serving on the faculties at the University of Pennsylvania and Bowdoin, Judd has held academic appointments at Princeton University, California State University–Fresno, the University of Exeter and the University of Melbourne.

Judd graduated from Rice — where she met her future husband, Robert Judd ’81 — with bachelor’s and master’s degrees in oboe performance and musicology from The Shepherd School of Music’s five-year honors program. She earned her doctorate in music theory and analysis from King’s College, University of London in 1994.

Dianna McGookey Milewicz ’78

Dianna McGookey Milewicz

Dianna McGookey Milewicz

Dianna McGookey Milewicz ’78 has focused her remarkable career on translational research that impacts the outcomes of several vascular diseases, training the next generation of physician-scientists and patient advocacy.

After earning her bachelor’s degree from Rice in biochemistry, Milewicz earned a medical degree and doctorate in cell biology from UT Southwestern Medical School. She is currently the President George H.W. Bush Chair of Cardiovascular Medicine, director of the Division for Medical Genetics and vice chair of the Department of Internal Medicine at McGovern Medical School at the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston. She is also director of the M.D./Ph.D. Medical Scientist Training Program that engages students from both McGovern and MD Anderson Cancer Center.

Milewicz’s work, explained one nominator, “spans from the clinic to the lab, and then back to the patient.” She was the first to identify a significant genetic contribution to thoracic aortic disease. Additionally, she identified a majority of the genes predisposing to thoracic aortic disease, which enables genetic testing companies worldwide to identify individuals at risk in the fight to prevent the deadly complications of the disease. She collaborated with Kevin Helliker of The Wall Street Journal on a Pulitzer Prize-winning series of articles to increase awareness of aortic dissections and associated genetic risks.

“Dianna’s record of excellence across medicine and science is only exceeded by her personal warmth and attention to each person she encounters,” said one nominator. At Rice, Milewicz has been a Hanszen College associate for more than 10 years, lectures in a number of Rice courses, and mentors graduate students and faculty, as well as undergraduate students.

Meritorious Service Award

The ARA’s Meritorious Service Award recognizes Rice alumni, faculty, staff and friends who have rendered significant, sustained voluntary contributions of energy, time and creativity toward the advancement of the university. 

Suzanne Deal Booth ’77

Suzanne Deal Booth

Suzanne Deal Booth

Rice Trustee Emerita Suzanne Deal Booth, a renowned conservationist, philanthropist and art collector, has substantially elevated the excellence of the visual arts on campus and in the broader community.

As a work-study student at Rice, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in art history, Deal Booth worked directly under the tutelage of the late art collector and philanthropist Dominique de Menil. After earning her master’s degree in art history and conservation at New York University in 1984, Deal Booth worked at a number of notable institutions, including the Kimbell Art Museum, the Menil Collection, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the J. Paul Getty Trust and a postgraduate fellowship at Centre Pompidou, Paris. In 1998, she founded the Friends of Heritage Preservation, an organization which supports the preservation of culturally significant works, artifacts and sites.

Deal Booth “has been integral in ensuring the arts have thrived as never before on the Rice campus,” said one nominator. She was instrumental in Rice’s collaboration with James Turrell on the installation of the “Twilight Epiphany” Skyspace. In recognition of her significant contributions to the establishment and ongoing support of what has become one of Rice’s most notable campus landmarks, the location of the Skyspace was named the Suzanne Deal Booth Centennial Pavilion. Deal Booth also played a fundamental role in Rice’s public art program, supporting its long-term excellence and preservation, and in the creation of the Moody Center for the Arts, where her endowment of the executive director role ensures its strong leadership. Additionally, she has served as a member of the Rice Public Arts Committee and as a leader for the Class of 1977’s record-setting 40th reunion fundraising campaign.

John V. Jaggers ’73

John V. Jaggers

John V. Jaggers

An expert in technology innovation and entrepreneurship, John V. Jaggers has dedicated his considerable expertise, talent and resources to advancing Rice’s leadership in education.

Jaggers’ extensive volunteer service includes serving on the Rice Board of Trustees from 2011 to 2015, and as trustee emeritus, his leadership continues to advance Rice’s vision for digital education and information technology. He provided essential input into the strategic direction of the Rice Alliance for Technology and Entrepreneurship as a member of its roundtable advisory board. He has served as a judge at the annual Rice Business Plan Competition for almost 15 years, and his dedication and involvement have helped grow the competition into one of the largest intercollegiate startup competitions in the world. Since 2012, he has been a member of the George R. Brown School of Engineering Advisory Board, and has served as chair since 2016. He and his wife Rusty Campbell Jaggers ’73 have been consistent and significant supporters of the Oshman Engineering Design Kitchen (OEDK), including sponsorship of a student design team and philanthropic support of the OEDK facility itself.

Jaggers earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in electrical engineering at Rice in 1973, followed by a master’s in business administration in 1979 from Harvard University. He began his career as a development engineer and, after business school, became an investment banker. In 1988, he joined Sevin Rosen Funds, a technology-focused, early-stage venture capital firm based in Dallas where he was a general partner for 18 years before becoming managing general partner in 2006. John and Rusty Jaggers have two adult children: Richard Jaggers and Rice alumna Lindsay Michelle Jaggers Fountain ’08.

Charles Landgraf ’75

Charles “Charley” Landgraf

Charles “Charley” Landgraf

From his days as a student leader and throughout his distinguished law career in Washington, D.C., Charles “Charley” Landgraf has consistently devoted his time, talent and resources to keeping Rice at the forefront of education and civic engagement.

Landgraf’s exceptional service to Rice includes serving as a member of the Board of Trustees, a member of the Association of Rice Alumni Board of Directors, an advisory board member for the Glasscock School of Continuing Studies and a key proponent and organizer of the Boniuk Institute for the Study and Advancement of Religious Tolerance. His support of Rice students and young alumni is just as exemplary and includes interviewing prospective students, hosting student trips to the nation’s capital, developing internship opportunities, sponsoring the Centennial Challenge to Young Alumni and chairing the Initiative for Students Volunteer Cabinet and Commission from 2014 to 2017.

As an undergraduate, Landgraf was active in college life at Sid Richardson, in addition to chairing University Court and writing for the Rice Thresher. He earned a bachelor’s degree in economics from Rice in 1975 and a law degree from New York University in 1978. A partner at Arnold & Porter, he is widely considered one of the top insurance lawyers and lobbyists in Washington, D.C., where he has played a key role in enacting several major pieces of legislation, such as the Terrorism Risk Insurance Act and the Dodd-Frank Act. One nominator wrote: “The first thing people know about Charley Landgraf, after his professional reputation, is that he is proud to be from Texas and especially proud to be a Rice alumnus.”

George W. Webb III ’88, ’91

George W. Webb III

George W. Webb III

Through countless volunteer and leadership roles, George Webb has demonstrated a tireless devotion to creating a more engaged alumni community.

After earning bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Rice in electrical engineering and a law degree from Tulane University, Webb became a devoted volunteer for Rice. As chair of the Houston Young Alumni Committee, he led a significant expansion in the number and quality of young alumni programs. During his time as Homecoming & Reunion co-chair, along with his wife Susannah, Webb expanded homecoming programming, including new activities for children. The Webbs have also organized events and traveled around the country for Rice baseball, football, volleyball, basketball and tennis. As president of Rice Engineering Alumni (REA), Webb transformed the group from a self-contained, Houston-focused organization to one that is national in scope and a full partner of the School of Engineering. As one nominator put it, Webb made REA “the success that it is today.”

In addition to being a celebrated associate of Wiess College, the Webbs founded the McMurtry College associates program. They spearheaded both McMurtry’s dedication ceremony and the naming of the new Wiess magister’s house in honor of the late Professor Bill Wilson. Most recently, Webb led the Wiess 60th Anniversary Celebration, establishing a new reunion model that has already been emulated by other colleges.

As one nominator concluded, “No one has done more to connect and introduce Rice alums from across the years and interests to each other, and then encourage them to become more involved in and supportive of the university, than George.”

About Arie Passwaters

Arie Wilson Passwaters is a Web editor in Rice University's Office of Public Affairs.