‘We’ve been saying nice things about Mary for the past 17 years’

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When you have the president, the ambassador and the police chief among the speakers at your retirement reception, there should be no doubt that you’re important to the university. Members of the Rice community who gathered in the lounge of Cohen House May 18 assured Associate Vice President for Human Resources Mary Cronin not only that she’s important, but also respected, appreciated and loved.
Mary Cronin was the guest of honor during her retirement reception at Cohen House. (Photo by Jeff Fitlow)
Cronin, who came to Rice in 2001, will retire June 30.
“When someone leaves Rice, it’s our tradition to say some nice things about them,” Vice President for Administration Kevin Kirby told the crowd. “We’ve been saying nice things about Mary for the past 17 years.”
Noting that Cronin has been his “most trusted colleague,” Kirby said that what makes her special is “that everybody feels that Mary is their most trusted partner.”
Kirby said Cronin is “the embodiment of a great leader — everybody around her is better because Mary is present, especially her talented, high-performing team.”
Cronin and her Human Resources team have achieved a number of successes over the years.
Rice was named one of Houston’s best places to work nine years in a row by the Houston Business Journal. Under Cronin’s leadership, HR implemented professional development courses for staff, leadership training for mid-level managers, staff appreciation events, service anniversary recognition for employees and town hall meetings with the president. Cronin was instrumental in the opening of the Rice Children’s Campus — the university’s first early learning facility for children of Rice faculty, staff and students. HR has coordinated the yearly benefits options for employees and assisted with recruitment and hiring of thousands of staff and faculty members. In the aftermath of hurricanes Ike and Harvey, HR set policy for accommodating employees who …

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