A Ruud departure

Former UNI president, Bill Ruud.

Courtesy Photo

Former UNI president, Bill Ruud.

CLINTON OLSASKY, Executive Editor | [email protected]

While many UNI students were away from campus working part-time jobs and internships this past summer, the university’s upper hierarchy was shaken up.
On July 2, Bill Ruud officially resigned as UNI’s 10th president after his three-year contract expired. The move was preceded by a campus-wide e-mail Ruud sent in May that announced his intentions to take over the reigns as president of Marietta College, located in Ohio.

In the e-mail, Ruud referred to his time in Cedar Falls as a “blessing” and dubbed UNI as the “University of Nothing Impossible.”

Since Ruud’s departure was announced, former UNI provost Jim Wohlpart was appointed to serve as UNI’s interim president. According to Wohlpart, the news of Ruud’s departure came rather unexpectedly.

“We found out as vice presidents on the same day that it got announced to the university community,” Wohlpart said. “We had a meeting that morning; the vice-presidents had come together, and [Ruud] shared with us that he had been offered this opportunity at Marietta College, that he was very excited about this opportunity and possibility, and that he would be leaving at some point in the summer […] So, I was shocked. Surprised. Pleased for the work that he had done over the last three years. He had done an amazing job of building a relationship between the administration and the faculty after there had been a vote of no confidence in the former president and provost.”

UNI professor Daniel Power, who serves as co-chair of the upcoming presidential search committee, expressed similar reactions to the news of Ruud’s departure.

“I was surprised; [I] hadn’t anticipated it,” Power said. “We were making progress here at UNI, and I wanted to make sure we continued to make progress. So I knew we had a challenge ahead.”

According to a press release that appeared on UNI’s website in late June, that progress has included increasing enrollment numbers, improved four and six-year graduation rates and a second ranking in U.S. News & World Report’s “Best Regional Universities (Midwest)” category for public universities.

In addition, according to Iowa Board of Regents member Katie Mulholland, Ruud was responsible for helping the university financially.

“As I look back, when Dr. Ruud came to the campus, he did a lot to really help move the campus forward because there were some very difficult budget decisions,” Mulholland said. “He was able to unify the campus, and I am really grateful that he was able to do that.”

With a new presidential search currently underway, UNI is experiencing a transitional phase Wohlpart says “happens a lot” due to the average term for university presidents lasting for five to six years. However, some students think that future presidents with terms comparable to Ruud’s would not be beneficial for the university.

“We want someone who is there who cares about the students,” Josiah Sabino, freshman communication disorders major, said. “You know, it’s hard for students when different presidents come in and out – and for the faculty and staff, too.”

Jamison Whiting, senior philosophy and political science double major, described Ruud as a personal mentor, citing Ruud’s approachable nature as a major reason why UNI’s next president will have “big shoes to fill.”

“He was just completely a genuine person. You know, he’s someone that is completely personable,” Whiting said. “That’s what I think is one of the great things he brought to this university, was that ability to be approachable.

“You know, if you ever want to say, ‘I have an open door policy’ – everyone has an open door policy. But the difference between an open door policy and actually getting out of your office is something that I think will be monumental in the next president that comes. That’s something that can really boost their perception on this campus.”