1998 Honoree: Karlem "Ducky" Riess
As the Tulane Alumni Association celebrates its 100th anniversary, it is altogether fitting that it honors an alumnus who has spent the better part of this century in the service of his alma mater.
During his long and prosperous affiliation with Tulane, Karlem Riess, affectionately called "Ducky," has been a student, professor, researcher, adviser, scholar, volunteer and university marshal.
A New Orleans native, Riess enrolled in Tulane's College of Arts & Sciences in 1929, receiving a bachelor of science in chemistry in 1933. He continued his studies at Tulane and received master of science in mathematics in 1935. He went on to study at the University of Wisconsin and Loyola University, before receiving a PhD in physics from Brown University in 1943.
As a Tulane student, Riess was a member of Phi Beta Kappa, Sigma Pi Sigma, Omicron Delta Kappa, Kappa Delta Phi, Alpha Epsilon Delta, Phi Eta Sigma, Alpha Phi Omega, Phi Kappa Sigma and Scabbard and Blade. Since 1969, he has served on the executive committee of Phi Eta Sigma, for which he also completed a term as national president. In addition, Riess served as the senator from the South Central District for Phi Beta Kappa for 12 years, as national president of Omicron Delta Kappa (1974-78), as national vice president of Phi Kappa Sigma and as president of the Association of College Honor Societies.
An advisor to Tulane's fraternities and honor societies for 38 years, Riess was the recipient of Omicron Delta Kappa's Distinguished Service Award (1972) as well as the honor society's highest honor, the Laurel Crown Circle Award (1998). Riess was also the recipient of a gold medal given by the National Interfraternity Conference. In addition, Tulane's Panhellenic Cup – a trophy awarded to the fraternity that excels in scholarship, fraternity education, community service and intramural sporting events – was renamed the Reiss Cup decades ago.
Riess taught at Brown University before returning to Tulane in 1943 as an assistant professor of physics. He has been an emeritus professor of physics since 1978, when he joined the Office of Student Affairs.
As the university marshal for 25 years, Riess's name has been synonymous with Tulane tradition. Before his retirement in 1998 as the first marshal in Tulane's history, Riess was responsible for leading the academic procession at each commencement ceremony and ensuring that the ritual adheres to proper protocol, with pomp and circumstance intact.
Over the years, Riess's research interests have included electromagnetic waves, biophysics and mathematical physics. He has been a member of the American Chemical Society, the American Physical Society, the American Mathematics Society, the American Crystallographic Society and the American Association for the Advancement of Science.
In 1995, Ries and his sister, Mary Alma Riess (NC '40, G '46), established the John Riess Memorial Scholarship at Tulane's School of Science and Engineering in memory of their father, a 1904 engineering graduate. Tulane's Interfraternity Council had previously established the Karlem Riess Interfraternity Scholarship for undergraduates who show both academic merit and financial need.
Alumni Relations, Tulane University, 6319 Willow Street, New Orleans, LA 70118 504-865-5901 firstname.lastname@example.org