Humanities Shining Star Award

Christine Gocek Medina, Lead Administrative Specialist, Office of the Dean of Humanities
Christine Gocek Medina, Lead Administrative Specialist, Office of the Dean of Humanities

Christine Gocek Medina
Lead Administrative Specialist, Office of the Dean of Humanities

We are pleased to announce, on behalf of Dean Kathleen Canning and the School of Humanities Shining Star Selection Committee, the selection of Christine Gocek Medina as the 2021-22 School of Humanities Shining Star Award recipient.

Christine began her career at Rice in the Dean of Humanities office in 2005. From the dean's office, Christine went on to work with the Program in Poverty, Justice, and Human Capabilities; Rice University Art Gallery; and the Center for Languages and Intercultural Communications, where she served as assistant director.

She returned to the dean's office in 2021 as lead administrative specialist working closely with all school departments, centers, and programs implementing the imagineOne software transition.

Christine is currently the Lead Administrative Specialist  for the School and her primary responsibilities are financial and human resources management in the new imagineOne (iO) system where she acts as the division leader in processing iO actions.  She also serves as the school’s expert in international hires and visa processes for faculty, staff and postdocs.  Christine’s deep knowledge and experience in many areas of academic administration make her an excellent resource person for staff in all areas across the school. She is the school’s resident international student/faculty/staff visa expert providing guidance and assistance to our chairs and administrators in those areas. Her deep experience with the Rice-in-Country programs in the Center for Languages and Intercultural Communication (CLIC) makes her an excellent resource for those with similar programs in their departments and programs.  Christine is integral to the recruitment and hiring processes for both faculty and staff and she is included in decision-making and processes of the reclassifications for staff and joins the staff search committees. She is also the financial administrator for several of our interdisciplinary programs.  While we had been hoping to make this announcement at a gathering of faculty and staff, that has proved to be impossible this year so we are making this late-announcement via email. We plan to publicly recognize Christine at a large meeting in the fall. 
Christine came to the dean’s office in March of 2005 as an accounting assistant from the Houston Ballet where she worked in accounts payable and as their boutique manager. In 2007, she moved to Feminist Economics as a project  coordinator and was promoted to program manager with that journal. In 2011, she became the manager of the Rice Gallery, a part of the School of Humanities at that time, and worked closely with international artists and their management companies, coordinated all the aspects of the Rice Gallery exhibitions, managed a staff of technicians and provided administrative support.  2017 brought another promotion as assistant director of the Center for Languages and Intercultural Communication where she used the visa skills she acquired in the Gallery to hire international faculty, provided administrative support to a very culturally diverse faculty,  and also managed a staff to provide for the center’s curricular and public presentation needs. While in this position, Christine took on the additional responsibility of iO change agent for the school, working with the central administration and being a liaison between the new imagineOne (iO) team and School of Humanities offices and staff. 
Beginning in July of 2021, Christine became the school’s first Lead Administrative Specialist working in the new iO at the school level and assisting and training all the School of Humanities staff who use the new system. It is here that Christine has truly been interacting with each and every department, center and program in the school and everyone has been able to experience her skills, talents and the benefits of her expertise and wonderful personality. 
There were a larger number of excellent nominations  than usual this year for the Shining Star prize. Christine, however, received nominations from various faculty and staff across the school. Some representative excerpts from the nominations for Christine were:
Regarding her position as Lead Administrative Specialist
"Over the past year, I’ve seen Christine work to effect a smooth transition to iO within the School of Humanities. We all know that this has been an incredibly difficult year (years?!) and that the new software is not working as well as we might want it to. …  I have seen staff engage throughout this year to effect this transition smoothly, to understand the new software, and to try their hardest to keep their departments, centers, and programs running. Christine has been enormously instrumental in this effort. I have seen Christine take on tasks to assist admins, listen to staff concerns and suggest solutions, provide useful documentation, and reach out to those who may be struggling. She has been an incredibly helpful and positive presence this year; it was a fantastic decision to appoint her as Lead Administrative Specialist, and if she was not in this role, we would be in a much worse place with iO today than we are."
“When Christine took the role of being our iO guru I knew that she was the right person for the job. She has patiently and with a smile always tried her best to answer all our questions. iO has been a nightmare for most of us, but Christine has always been calm in explaining and showing us how to navigate through complicated and/or tortuous situations. How she manages to stay cool, calm and collect is beyond me, I think secretly she has gone into another room and has screamed at the top of her lungs, or maybe punched a pillow or two.”
While also handling the iO responsibilities, Christine volunteered to provide interim staffing for departments when there were/are retirements or staffing changes that leave departments short-staffed until new replacements can be recruited. Several departments have benefited from her experience and expertise when taking on those roles.
Christine has been an absolutely indispensable member of the School's staff over the last year, especially in helping department administrators and chairs across the school manage the rocky transition to imagineOne. More than once, she has not only smoothed out a problem that she was able to identify in advance, but she has saved Rice University significant embarrassment in several cases, including one I am aware of in which a service provider was threatening to sue over late payment. I'm not sure how anyone has managed to stay on top all of the changes, but Christine has, and she has done it with constant good cheer, attention to detail, and a can-do attitude.”
“Christine stepped in to fill the many gaps until … could begin as administrator. This not only involved, for a period of some weeks, being present in the department office, but also handling some situations that would have been sticky even in normal times: onboarding two postdoctoral fellows, setting up student works for a new grant … paying honoraria for a conference organized … at the beginning of the semester, and all the while keeping up to date on imagineOne and communicating what needed to be done. “
“At an exceptionally challenging time for the School and the Department, Christine Medina has been a consistently bright and excellent presence. She is truly a Shining Star!”
“Besides iO, Christine was so helpful when it came to hiring a new staff person for (XXX), from posting the position, to the interviews and through the hiring process, she was there holding my hand and at times holding (the chair’s) hand.”
General comments:
“For as long as I’ve known Christine, and we’ve known each for a long time, she has always gone out of her way to be helpful in every situation that is presented to her. We’ve never worked in the same department, but while she was in CLIC and we were across the hallway from each other, I always felt that I could depend on her and I was always grateful for her support.”
With her added duties in the dean’s office, she always manages to go out of her way to be helpful, offering to zoom or talk on the phone. She has never made me feel like she doesn’t have time to help.”
“Christine is more than the iO guru, she’s dependable, loyal, she’s a trustworthy colleague and friend. Her sense of humor during the pandemic and this iO roller coaster ride has been greatly appreciated.”
We are exceptionally pleased and proud to have Christine as a representative of the School of Humanities dean’s office and wholeheartedly agree that she is an exceptionally worthy recipient of this award.

The School of Humanities Shining Star Award was created in 2017-18 to honor service excellence in the school.  This staff-created award recognizes one School of Humanities staff member for outstanding work and overall performance in an academic year. The School of Humanities Shining Star “traveling trophy” resides in the office of the award recipient for the year. The recipient is also given a certificate, small cash prize, and the recipient’s name is added to a plaque to be placed in the Humanities building foyer that recognizes all award winners. A committee comprised of the dean, associate dean, assistant dean, and the past year’s award recipient comprise the committee that selects the recipient from faculty and staff nominations. Nominees must have been employed in the school for the last two years (as of July 1 of the nomination year). The request for nominations go out to all Humanities faculty and staff in the fall.

Past School of Humanities Shining Star Recipients

2019-20 | Marcie Newton, Administrator, Department of Religion & Department of Philosophy

2018-19 | Andrew Stefl, Academic Administrator, Office of the Dean of Humanities

2017-18 | Linda Evans, Administrator, Department of English