Ruud discusses his future plans for UNI
Published: Monday, February 18, 2013
Updated: Monday, February 18, 2013 15:02
William Ruud, the next President of the University of Northern Iowa, spoke with the Northern Iowan on Friday about his plans once he assumes his new role on June 1. Ruud was recently selected by the Presidential Search Committee to succeed Ben Allen as UNI’s president.
Ruud did not actively seek out the position at UNI.
“Someone nominated me,” Ruud said. “I have a great job at Shippensburg University and I really wasn’t looking for a job, but someone nominated me for the opportunity.”
However, when Ruud learned more about UNI, he gained more interest.
“… I felt there was a great fit between my background and experience and the mission, roles and objections of UNI. That’s why I continued,” Ruud said.
Born in North Dakota, Ruud received his bachelor’s degree in public administration from the University of North Dakota and completed his graduate studies at the University of Nebraska.
Ruud was interested in returning to the Midwest.
“It’s a Midwestern university and I was born, raised and educated in the Midwest,” Ruud said.
The atmosphere of UNI appealed to him as well.
“The institution is very similar to one at which I currently work. It’s a regional comprehensive university, which is all about putting students first,” Ruud said.
Furthermore, Ruud was drawn to the “strong community presence.”
“It was really that next logical step in a career for me and that made it very, very attractive,” Ruud said.
Ruud is actively following the University of Northern Iowa and its athletics program.
While Ruud would not go so far as to pick a favorite sport within the UNI athletic program, he said, “I’d better be following basketball. The way (UNI) played on Wednesday night was awesome.”
Ruud watched the UNI men defeat Creighton 61-54 Wednesday night, and feels that athletics should be strongly supported by the student body.
“I’m a huge college sports fan, so I’m going to follow all of the sports, men’s and women’s, and I will be very encouraging. I want to encourage students to turn out to as many sporting events as they can,” Ruud said. “I think students need to know it’s very important to support their fellow students in all that they do outside of the classroom,” said Ruud.
Ruud plans to improve student and faculty morale by improving communication between groups and reminding people about the spirit of the university.
“I think the issue is to remind everybody what a great university UNI is to live at, work at and attend. UNI is a great place; it’s got a great history,” Ruud said. “As I told the search committee, I come to work with students, faculty, staff, alumni and the community to make sure the university is as successful as possible,” Ruud said.
Ruud hopes to be visible on campus to help increase the overall morale.
“I hope you’ll see me in the student union, you’ll see me at events and activities, you’ll see me in the residence halls, you’ll see me in the newspaper and you’ll see me on the top floor of the student union talking to student leaders,” Ruud said. “I think if we feel good about ourselves, the challenges that come along will be much more easily overcome working together and working for a common goal.”
Along with opening communication at the university level, Ruud would also like to speak with people outside of the university.
“We need to make sure that not only people in Cedar Falls and Waterloo know what’s going on on-campus, but that people in Des Moines, Council Bluffs, Sioux City, the Quad Cities and Cedar Rapids know what’s going on,” Ruud said. “I will make sure to communicate on a regular basis with folks, whether it be social media, the newspaper, email or in-person.”
Ruud plans to visit the campus at least twice before he begins his term as president.
“I plan on at least a couple of visits. I will make one visit for a couple of days to the main campus. I will make another visit to Des Moines, hopefully to talk with leadership in the House and Senate, Board of Regents and the governor to make sure we put Iowa first. I’ve already been invited to the Rally in the Valley at the end of April, and maybe I’ll see if I can break away for that,” Ruud said.
Concerning the transition, Ruud plans to update UNI and Shippensburg students during the process but does not want to trump retiring President Ben Allen.
“I want to make sure that Ben Allen continues to be the president of UNI until the 31 of May. When we come to the first of June we’ll make that transition,” said Ruud.
Ruud plans to spend the first 90 to 120 days on campus listening to various groups of both faculty and students.
“I plan on getting out to as many groups as I can, hearing what they have to say and hearing what the issues are,” Ruud said.
A statewide tour is also part of Ruud’s plans.
“I really believe that UNI has a great story to tell, and we need to get out and make sure we’re reaching all four corners of the state of Iowa and that students from all high schools in the state are putting us on their radar screen,” Ruud said.
He plans to visit at least six Iowa communities and meet with various editorial boards and media outlets across the state within his first six months. He also plans to update the 2010-2015 strategic plan of the university.