April 06, 2009

Prudence Rice wins Women of Distinction award

by Christi Mathis

Prudence Rice
CARBONDALE, Ill. -- Prudence E. Rice, praised by colleagues as a visionary, a mentor, an outstanding researcher and an inspiration, is the winner of the 2009 University Women of Distinction Award at Southern Illinois University Carbondale.

Rice is the associate vice chancellor for research and director of the Office of Research Development and Administration (ORDA) at SIUC. She is also a distinguished professor in the University’s anthropology department. She’s been a professor at the University for 17 years, including six years as department chair, and she has led ORDA since 1999.

The University will honor Rice and other Excellence Through Commitment award-winners at an April 21 dinner, hosted by Chancellor Samuel Goldman, in the Student Center. She will receive a monetary award, a certificate, the use of a designated parking space for a year, and a watch provided by the SIU Alumni Association.

“Dr. Rice has demonstrated leadership, vision and action in her commitment to increasing the status, participation and recognition of women of all ages and ranks in the SIUC community,” wrote Laurie A. Achenbach, associate dean for research and graduate programs and microbiology professor in the College of Science, and Karen R. Lips, associate professor of zoology, in their letter nominating Rice for the award.

“She has accomplished this through her teaching and advising of graduate students, her internationally renowned research program, the extensive service she has shown both to her field and to various academic units on campus and as the director of the SIUC Office of Research and Development (ORDA),” Achenbach and Lips wrote.

Rice is the only woman to receive the SIUC Outstanding Scholar Award, one of just about two dozen faculty to earn the honor. Her published works include nearly a dozen books, with more in the works, and dozens of professional journal articles, book chapters and more. They include the often-cited 1987 “Pottery Analysis, A Sourcebook” and 2007’s “Maya Calendar Origins: Monuments, Mythistory and the Materialization of Time”, recipient of the Association of American Publishers award of excellence honorable mention. She also has numerous papers, presentations and lectures -- many for international audiences – to her credit.

Rice is advising seven master’s and four doctoral graduate students, part of her extensive efforts to advise and mentor students. Known internationally as a Mayan scholar, Rice has brought into the University more than $1.16 million in external funds from organizations including the National Science Foundation and the National Geographic Society. She initiated and continues to work with the undergraduate research program, administered by ORDA, and has served on numerous committees and in a variety of administrative roles during her tenure at SIUC.

“Clearly, Dr. Rice’s accomplishments on the campus, in her discipline and nationally/internationally are exemplary by any standard, and should be a source of inspiration to anyone at SIUC, no less to women,” wrote John A. Koropchak, vice chancellor for research and graduate dean, in his letter supporting the nomination.

Rice earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in anthropology at Wake Forest University and her doctorate in the same field at Pennsylvania State University. Before coming to SIUC, she served on the faculties of the University of Chicago and the University of Florida. Since 1976, she has been adjunct curator for the anthropology department of the Florida Museum of Natural History in Gainesville, Fla. She’s held a variety of offices in various professional associations and at SIUC.

“Certainly, Pru’s stellar accomplishments, particularly in a field in which it has traditionally been difficult for women to excel (archaeology) and as a power-house researcher on campus as well as a tremendously skilled administrator, have and continue to serve as great role models and inspirations for all around her,” said Susan M. Ford, chair of the anthropology department at SIUC, writing in support of Rice’s nomination.