Kenneth P. Ruscio


Kenneth P. Ruscio served as the 26th president of Washington and Lee University from July 1, 2006, to Dec. 31, 2016. An alumnus of W&L and a distinguished scholar of democratic theory and public policy, President Ruscio was named Emeritus Professor of Politics and President Emeritus by the University's Board of Trustees when he stepped down from the presidency. He will take office at president of the Virginia Foundation for Independent Colleges on May 1, 2017.

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.

Ruscio held both faculty and staff positions at W&L from 1987 to 2002, including professor of politics, associate dean of the Williams School of Commerce, Economics, and Politics, and dean of freshmen. A postdoctoral research scholar at the University of California, Los Angeles, from 1983 to 1985, he also taught at Worcester Polytechnic Institute from 1985 to 1987 and at the University of Kansas from 1982 to 1983. Immediately prior to being named W&L's president, he served as the dean of the Jepson School of Leadership Studies at the University of Richmond from 2002 to 2006.

The year after Ruscio became president of W&L, the University launched an ambitious strategic plan emphasizing its commitment to a liberal arts education in the 21st century. When it was completed in 2016, "Honor Our Past, Build Our Future: The Campaign for Washington and Lee" had raised $542.5 million against its original goal of $500 million, making it second largest campaign ever by a liberal arts college.

One of the major elements in the campaign was support for need-based financial aid. The campaign secured more than $156 million for that goal, including $100 million for the Johnson Scholarship Program. Other successful fundraising goals were for faculty support and academic programs, including $66 million from the Lenfest Challenge to improve faculty compensation and $4 million from award-winning journalist Roger Mudd to create the Roger Mudd Center for Ethics. A $50 million renovation and restoration of the historic Colonnade was also funded and will be completed in 2017. Among the new facilities funded by the campaign were a new natatorium and the creation of the Ruscio Center for Global Learning, named in his honor by the Trustees in recognition of Ruscio's "strong support and advocacy for the integration of global perspective throughout the university's curriculum."

Ruscio guided the University through a revitalization of its Spring Term, the four-week academic term that offers intensive study for students and creative approaches to teaching for faculty. Also during his tenure, the W&L School of Law implemented an innovative curriculum that prepares students for a rapidly changing profession.

Ruscio has authored articles, book reviews, essays and a book, "The Leadership Dilemma in Modern Democracy" (2004). He has served as national president of Omicron Delta Kappa, the national leadership society begun at W&L in 1914 that now has chapters at more than 300 campuses. He has led and served on dozens of academic, professional and civic committees. Ruscio served on the boards of both the American Association of Colleges and Universities (AAC&U) and the Council of Independent Colleges (CIC), and he chaired the AAC&U board. In recognition of his scholarly and professional accomplishments, Washington and Lee's chapter of Phi Beta Kappa inducted Ruscio as an alumni member in 2008. He has also received the Jepson School's James MacGregor Burns Award for contributions to leadership studies.

Ruscio is married to Kimberley O'Donnell Ruscio. They have a son, Matthew, who is a 2012 graduate of St. Lawrence University.