Recipients of the 2013 Schmitt Prize: Barbara Green and Maria F. Lopez

May 30, 2013, Beckman Auditorium

Barbara Green 

From left to right: Ted Jenkins (Caltech Board of Trustees), Thomas Schmitt (founder of the Schmitt Prize), Barbara Green, Dean Currie (VP of Business and Finance), and Jean-Lou Chameau (Caltech President)

Barbara Green is the associate dean of undergraduate students. In her more than 25 years at Caltech, her door has always been open to students who are seeking her help. Barbara's colleagues consistently give her high marks for her accessibility and generosity with her time. She enjoys uncommon trust and respect among her peers, and is the go-to person for students, staff, and faculty when dealing with difficult situations, both academic and personal. Barbara excels at balancing the students' desire for freedom and the need to keep them out of harm's way. She often serves as the face of Caltech, personifies the honor code, and provides continuity between deans. Faculty members often ask what to do when a student displays behaviors or attitudes that are of concern, and the answer is usually the same: "Call Barbara."

Excerpts from the nominators' comments…

"Barbara is passionate about student welfare. I cannot think of anyone who is more essential to, and directly supports, the teaching mission of the Institute."

"Her commitment, to both the students with whom she works, her colleagues, and the institution itself, has helped me to maintain some perspective on why we are doing what we are doing. She is one of the kindest, most thoughtful, generous, sincere, patient, and caring individuals I have ever met. She is also fair, compassionate, hard working, and absolutely dedicated to the welfare of this community."

"She maintains a steady presence year after year with never a drop in her enthusiasm for helping students."

"Barbara handles emotionally taxing situations with warmth and aplomb. She does so much behind the scenes that people would never know about."

"Caltech needs individuals, like Barbara, who are willing to take on some difficult and unglamorous jobs. In doing these jobs, Barbara always maintains a calm, positive, and upbeat demeanor."

Maria F. Lopez

From left to right: Ted Jenkins (Caltech Board of Trustees), Thomas Schmitt (founder of the Schmitt Prize), Maria Lopez, Dean Currie (VP of Business and Finance), and Jean-Lou Chameau (Caltech President)

Maria Lopez joined the Caltech Counseling Center in 2004. As the office's administrative assistant, she ensures that the daily operations of the Counseling Center run smoothly. She handles an incredibly demanding workload with professionalism and a positive attitude. She also ensures that the students who use the counseling services have a great experience as soon as they come through the doors. Maria greets each of them with warmth and sensitivity while seeing to their needs. Many make time to chat with her before their sessions because of her incredible personality; they just can't help themselves. One student remarked, "She always makes us feel noticed, cared for, and loved." Maria recently started a walking group on campus to promote a healthy lifestyle. They call themselves "The Pink Turtles," and they can be seen many evenings walking the campus.

Excerpts from the nominators' comments...

"Maria has a unique ability to draw even shy people out and show her caring and support for them. She is one of Caltech's best, and the Counseling Center's fine reputation is due in large part to her heart."

"Maria sees her job as having no limits. She will sew on a button for someone, or give a hug, and if something is broken, she fixes it. Our director has referred to her as 'our actual leader and commander in chief.'"

"Maria bends over backwards to do things that are neither in her job description nor that she will be thanked for. She doesn't look for thanks—she does them gladly."

"Maria exudes love, respect, and consideration. She inspires and engages others first with her smile, and then with her cheerful, positive energy. She makes each day better just by being herself."