Farewell Mike Gustin, Denise Klein, wonderful Wiess Masters!

Dear Reader, it is no secret how much I love Rice University’s college system. Our frequent lunches are not at a high table, but right with the students. At this time of year we linger, chatting with students we have come to know well. Last week it was outside with a young woman facing her first full time job two days after graduation. As we talk, others come up to us with questions, or just to say hi to their former professors. I value interactions with students outside the classroom. As educators, we have only truly done our jobs if we have inspired independent curiosity.

This evening it was time for celebration, for husband and wife team Mike Gustin, and Denise Klein, are nearing the end of a 5 year stint as Masters of Wiess College. In this role they live in a house adjacent to the college. They organize many social events, like the monthly Wiess teas. They open their kitchen for cookie making. They console, and help in ways too numerous to imagine. They have literally given nearly every minute of their non-working lives to the social and political and personal side of Wiess College. The students are very appreciative, though they will probably only fully realize the extent of the commitment when they are older. It has to be enormously rewarding, and I’m sure they will have students returning to seek them out their whole lives.

This party featured the things our masters like best: beer brewed right at Wiess College, a great in-house live jazz group, a great turnout of students, masters from other colleges, and associates like us. The meal was amazing. See the menu below! Sashimi with caviar, lamb, duck, beef, shrimp, eggplant, frisé, many desserts.

Instead of fraternities or sororities, or any exclusive organization, we have the colleges, and they work well. What other university has students competing to stay on campus?

Mike and Denise, have fun rediscovering what there is to do with free time, and have fun in Scotland!


Mike Gustin, professor in Biochemistry and Cell Biology, and Denise Klein.


The Wiess commons.


Roommates! Erica Harris, in the white dress, is in our lab. Her roommate is Quincy, which I think is her last name.


The amazing menu!


A table of masters, from left, Alex Byrd, our next master, Rudy Guerra, Dale and Elise Sawyer.


Some home-made desserts, and our college banner.


Loyal associate and good friend, Elias Bongmba.


Loyal associate, formerly long-time resident associate, and friend, Stan Dodds.


Erica likes the cupcakes!


About Joan E. Strassmann

Evolutionary biologist, studies social behavior in insects & microbes, interested in education, travel, birds, tropics, nature, food; biology professor at Washington University in St. Louis
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