GLORIA MECKEL TARPLEY '81
Chair, Dallas Planning Commission
BA 1981, Rice University
JD 1984, University of Houston
Trustee term ends: 2019
What have you found to be most rewarding about serving on the ARA Board?
I have loved all my time serving on the ARA Board, but the highlights have clearly been on two fronts: first and foremost, getting to know fellow involved alums who share my love of Rice, and second, the increased opportunities to become meaningfully engaged in Rice events and volunteer opportunities.
What is your favorite “Only at Rice” memory or story?
A few years ago the ARA Board was invited to take a tour of the Oshman Engineering Design Kitchen. As it happened, the person who was to have led the tour was unexpectedly taken ill so the Alumni Affairs director reached out to one of the two students who were working at their stations that Saturday morning, and asked for the student to lead the tour. This senior, who was completely taken by surprise, rose to the occasion and proceeded to give us a comprehensive tour, very modestly omitting any mention of his work. Finally, at the end of the tour he was asked what his project was — a very sophisticated bit of designing aircraft with software that would enable it to fly itself from beginning to end, as a predicate to airplanes that might need to do this sort of thing on the far side of Mars, for example. Then, when asked what lay ahead for him, he sheepishly let us know he would be going to Cambridge on a major fellowship — clearly a terrifically talented, modest student! With a wry sense of humor and self-deprecating comments, this fellow exemplified all that is best at Rice!
If you could give one piece of advice to Rice students, what would it be?
I would tell them that their Rice education need never end — through continued engagement, I continue to learn and Rice has profoundly enriched my life. After graduation, stay involved in alumni affairs and find ways to stay engaged with Rice and Rice people — your life will be much the better for it!
Share a positive experience or outcome you’ve had via Sallyportal.
I’ve enjoyed mentoring a couple of students and would like to think that I helped them in their professional development. I have also used it to keep in touch with peers and students, both.