Gift from Alumni Couple Helps Imagine Unlimited Campaign Exceed Goal

Posted on 6/2/21 3:59 PM

A gift from an Indiana couple, both Indiana University of Pennsylvania Distinguished Alumni Award and President's Medal of Distinction recipients, was part of a giving “rally” that helped IUP's Imagine Unlimited comprehensive campaign end six months early and more than $6 million over goal.

Alumni Major General Rodney Ruddock (retired) and Ellen Ruddock, long-time residents of Indiana, made a $50,000 commitment to the Imagine Unlimited campaign in December 2020. The original campaign goal and end date was $75 million and July 2021; in February, the campaign concluded with gifts of $81.36 million.

As 2020 neared its end, University Advancement and Imagine Unlimited campaign volunteers, knowing that the campaign was almost at its $75-million goal, challenged themselves to meet the goal by the end of the calendar year. The rally had great success: the result was gifts totaling $5,715,000 before December 31, meeting the goal and the rally timeline.

The gift from the Ruddocks was part of the rally that pushed Imagine Unlimited past its goal.

“Some of our significant rally gifts of $25,000 or more came from IUP leadership, volunteers, alumni, and friends—the people that are very close to the university and who know us the best, which is an incredible vote of confidence,” Vice President for University Advancement Khatmeh Osseiran-Hanna said.

“The Ruddocks are two of our most loyal and supportive alumni. They have seen the university through good and challenging times, have served in significant leadership roles, and have never lost faith in us,” she said.

The gift from the Ruddocks will be used to establish two scholarships: the Rodney D. and Ellen Sylves Ruddock Mathematics Scholarship and the Rodney D. and Ellen Sylves Ruddock Business Scholarship and add additional support to the Rod Ruddock Baseball Scholarship, which they established in 2002. Major General Ruddock was a four-year letter winner as a member of the IUP baseball team while he was a student at IUP, achieving All-American recognition.

Major Gen. Ruddock, originally from Indiana, earned a bachelor's degree in mathematics and safety education in 1965 and a master's degree in counseling education in 1975 from IUP. Ellen Sylves Ruddock, originally of Swissvale, is a 1966 business education graduate of IUP.

Both Ruddocks have held significant university and Indiana County leadership roles, including in public service, and are recipients of the Indiana County Athena International leadership award (Ellen Ruddock was Pennsylvania's first Athena recipient) and the Indiana County Civic Leader Award.

Both believe in IUP and its ability to shape the future success of its graduates.

“For me, it provided the best opportunity for a lifelong career. I wanted to do something in science or mathematics, and I found that at IUP,” Major Gen. Ruddock said. “I thought about architecture or engineering, but IUP and mathematics was the right choice—affordable, and it has what I wanted and needed.”

“I knew I wanted to go to college, but my parents wanted me close to home, and I liked the IUP business program,” Ellen Ruddock said.

“IUP has always played a significant role in my career journey,” he said. “My personal and professional growth was realized in every aspect of my educational research, military and political callings. We have both developed very special relationships over the years because of IUP—sorority and fraternity friendships, and my participation in athletics at IUP. Somehow those relationships last forever,” he said. “Of course, one of the most special things about IUP is that we found our life partner here.” Both Ruddocks were first-generation students.

“IUP has advanced and strengthened so many of its programs to advantage students and meet the needs of the commonwealth and the nation,” they said.

The Ruddocks also praised the faculty and coaches at IUP as “exceptional.”

“My success in the military was thanks to many professors I had when at IUP. They became part of my experiences, and those experiences led us to our successful careers. These relationships have formed who we are,” he said.

Both Ruddocks are pleased to help to provide some of the many scholarships available now to students. “If a student has the desire to learn, the financial help is there for them,” she said.

“We were both impressed with the success of the campaign, but it was not necessarily a surprise,” they said. “There are many IUP graduates out there that have had the same outstanding experiences at IUP and have the same feelings we have about the university, and they are now rising to the top to say thank you. IUP is fortunate to have a strong alumni base that returns to the university in so many ways—giving, or volunteering to give back to students.”

Both Ruddocks urged students to take advantage of the IUP alumni circle.

“It's a vast network at your disposal,” Ellen Ruddock said. “There is a network there that can help you connect with opportunities across the nation and the world. I have been the fortunate recipient of the benefits from that network many times over. Even though we moved several times over the years, I've always had someone in that network that contacted me with job opportunities.

“IUP graduates look out for one another. They know how great the institution is and the quality of leaders that come out of the university. Our pride in the university continues to grow every year. In spite of the economic downturns, the pandemic, and the tough decisions that are being made—IUP is in a strong place and it will continue to get stronger.”

Major General Ruddock had a 35-year career in education, serving as an administrator in the Indiana Area School District for 25 years. He served four terms (16 years) as an Indiana County Commissioner, completing his final term in office in January 2020.

He retired from military service in November 2002 after 37 years of service. He began his military career in 1965 when he was commissioned a second lieutenant in the Quartermaster Branch from the ROTC program at IUP. He served on active duty tour with the Army Security Agency during the Vietnam War. General Ruddock's last assignment with the United States Army was as commanding general of the 99th Regional Support Command in Oakdale, Pennsylvania. The 99th Regional Support Command had an estimated strength of over 22,000 soldiers spanning the five states of Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware, Virginia, and West Virginia and the District of Columbia.

Major General Ruddock is also a graduate of the prestigious Army War College. Prior to that, he completed the Command and General Staff College, Engineer Officer Advance Course, and Quartermaster Officer Basic Course. He has a secondary administrative certificate from Duquesne University.

During his military career, he has been awarded the following: the Distinguished Service Medal, Legion of Merit, Meritorious Service Medal with two Oak Leaf Clusters, Army Commendation Medal with Oak Leaf Cluster, Army Achievement Medal, Army Reserve Components Achievement Medal with Four Oak Leaf Clusters, National Defense Service Medal with Bronze Star, Humanitarian Service Medal, Armed Forces Reserve Medal with Gold Hourglass Device, Army Service Ribbon, Army Reserve Components Overseas Training Ribbon, Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal, and Vietnam Service Medal with four Service Stars.

His professional military associations have included: the Senior Army Reserve Commanders Association, the Association of the United States Army, Society of Military Engineers, Military Order of World Wars, and life membership in the Army War College Alumni Association, Reserve Officer Association, Veterans of Foreign Wars, AMVETS, and American Legion.

Prior to his athletic career at IUP, he was active in three sports in high school and has been a coach and athletic official at both the high school and collegiate levels. He is a member of the Indiana County Sports Hall of Fame.

He has been an avid volunteer for IUP, serving for more than two decades on the Presidential Advisory Committee on Athletic Policy, as liaison officer of the 99th Regional Support Command to the IUP ROTC program, and a chapter member of Phi Delta Kappa. He was an advisor to the John P. Murtha Homeland Security Institute at IUP and served on the board of the IUP Research Institute. He is a member of the Honor Society of Phi Kappa Phi and was inducted into the IUP Sports Hall of Fame in 2005.

Ellen Ruddock has served on the IUP Alumni Board of Directors, as a consultant for the Gateways to Opportunity $34-million capital campaign at IUP, and was the director of the IUP Center for Family Business from 2008 to 2017.

After her IUP graduation, she was a teacher at Penn Hills High School, near Pittsburgh. A lifelong entrepreneur, she has been a downtown Indiana retail business owner, worked in advertising with WDAD-AM and WQMU-FM, and started and then sold Career Dynamics, a consultancy that taught time management, workplace efficiency, business in leadership, productivity, motivation, and other professional skills for workers and bosses at companies in organizational development throughout western Pennsylvania.

She was the first woman elected to the Indiana Borough Council, and has been an active volunteer in the community, including with the Indiana County Chamber of Commerce, the Chevy Chase Community Center, and with Downtown Indiana, which honored her with the title of Director Emerita.

She has continued her consulting work in strategic planning for the YMCA of Indiana County, Chevy Chase Community Center, US Army Reserve Family Readiness Program, and the City of Johnstown, Borough of Indiana, and the City of Wilkinsburg.

She is a founding director emerita of the PowerLink Governing Board and has the longest tenure on its board of directors. She successfully led the board to foundation funding that allowed staff to grow the organization, including building its processes and attracting more than 800 volunteer advisors to serve PowerLink companies.

She has been active with Athena International for more than 30 years and is a director emerita, after serving as chair of the board of directors and as a member of the board from 1998 to 2008. She initiated and chaired the honorary board and was chair until 2020. She continues to serve on the honorary board and development committee, assisting the organization in a number of ways, including helping to roll out the new curriculum for Becoming Athena (virtual program) during the pandemic. She also is a leader for the Indiana County Athena recipients.

In addition to her degree from IUP, she graduated from the entrepreneurial management program at Carnegie Mellon University's Tepper School of Business in 1995 and from IUP's MBA certificate program in 2009. She also has traveled the globe as a keynote speaker on personal leadership, personal productivity, planning, and goal setting.

The Ruddocks both have a passion for serving military families; Ellen Ruddock is the recipient of the Outstanding Civilian Service Medal from the Department of the Army in 1997 and 2001.

The Ruddocks have two adult sons, one who is a graduate of IUP; four grandchildren (one who recently completed her master's degree in business at IUP); and a great-granddaughter.

Imagine Unlimited artmark Imagine Unlimited exceeded all previous fundraising campaigns staged by the university by more than $35 million and included the university's largest one-time gifts in its history, $23 million from alumni John J. and Char Kopchick.

IUP's Imagine Unlimited comprehensive campaign is the largest comprehensive campaign in the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education. It included 63,700 donations from more than 22,000 donors, who made gifts designed to focus on the campaign priorities of enhancing science and mathematics, academic excellence and innovation, student success, and leadership through athletic competition.