The Columns

Ruscio to Become VFIC President in April 2017

— by on February 17th, 2016

The Board of Trustees of the Virginia Foundation for Independent Colleges (VFIC) announced today (Wednesday, Feb. 17) that Kenneth P. Ruscio, the president of Washington and Lee University, will become the next president of VFIC on April 1, 2017.

Ruscio is stepping down as Washington and Lee’s president at the end of this calendar year and will be succeeded by William C. (Will) Dudley, provost of Williams College, who was elected by the W&L Board of Trustees on Feb. 12.

Ruscio, who will become the seventh president in the history of the VFIC, succeeds Tom Morris, who served from 2010 to 2016. At the same time, Mary-Beth Johnson, who has served VFIC as vice president for 11 years, has been named the organization’s chief operating officer.

Founded in 1952, the VFIC’s mission is to advance the distinctive values and strengths of its 15 smaller-enrollment, undergraduate, residential Virginia member colleges, including Washington and Lee. The VFIC works to secure financial support from the private sector, increase visibility for the sector, facilitate innovative and collaborative initiatives between the colleges, and support initiatives that ensure that this personalized educational experience remains an affordable choice for tomorrow’s citizen-leaders.

“We are very fortunate to have Ken as our next president,” said VFIC Board Chair Thurston Moore, “and look forward to the leadership and strategic guidance he will provide as we continue the important work and continued success of the VFIC. We have selected a strong leader for a strong organization.”

Moore added: “Mary-Beth’s new role is recognition of the contributions she has made to the organization over the last decade. Her level of responsibility in operations of the organization has increased through the years, and with her leadership we expect to have a smooth transition.”

Ruscio has served as the 26th president of Washington and Lee, his alma mater, for 10 years, and led numerous major initiatives at the Lexington school. Under Ruscio’s leadership, W&L completed a historic $542.5 million capital campaign that resulted in the renovation and restoration of the Colonnade, which comprises the university’s signature campus buildings; the creation of several new academic initiatives; the development of the Johnson Program in Leadership and Integrity; and a significant expansion of the financial aid program, which has resulted in the removal of loans from all financial aid packages and the creation of the W&L Promise to guarantee free tuition to any admitted undergraduate student with family income of $75,000 or below.

“I am excited to have this opportunity to work on behalf of Virginia’s independent colleges and universities,” Ruscio said. “Independent higher education plays a critically important role in the commonwealth, and I look forward to working with the VFIC board and the 15 college presidents as we continue to strengthen that role.”

A distinguished scholar of democratic theory and public policy, Ruscio earned his B.A. in politics from Washington and Lee in 1976, and a master of public administration (1978) and a Ph.D. in public affairs and public administration (1983), both from Syracuse University’s Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs.

He held teaching and research positions at UCLA, Worcester Polytechnic Institute and the University of Kansas before returning to his alma mater in 1987. Between 1987 and 2002, he held staff and faculty positions as professor of politics, associate dean of the Williams School of Commerce, Economics, and Politics, and dean of freshmen. From 2002 to 2006, Ruscio served as dean of the Jepson School of Leadership Studies at the University of Richmond.

Active in national higher education circles, Ruscio has served on the boards of the Council of Independent Colleges, the Association of American Colleges & Universities (AAC&U) and Omicron Delta Kappa, the national leadership honor society.

In announcing Ruscio’s appointment, Moore also paid tribute to Tom Morris’ six years as VFIC president.

“Under Tom Morris’ leadership, the VFIC was instrumental in increasing the average distribution to the member institutions, assisting the member colleges to begin working collaboratively on instructional technology and the delivery of language courses across institutional lines, and securing vital scholarship support,” said Moore. “We are indebted to Tom’s vision and commitment to the organization and the 15 colleges and universities that make up the VFIC consortium.”

In addition to W&L, VFIC member institutions are Bridgewater College, Emory & Henry College, Hampden-Sydney College, Hollins University, Lynchburg College, Mary Baldwin College, Marymount University, Randolph College, Randolph-Macon College, Roanoke College, Shenandoah University, Sweet Briar College, the University of Richmond and Virginia Wesleyan College.