Topic: Honors College

October 13, 2016

James Ruebel
Late Honors College Dean James Ruebel called friend, mentor and advocate.

MUNCIE, Indiana — The Ball State community is remembering James “Jim” Ruebel, a dedicated educator who helped thousands of young people reach their academic potential as dean of the university’s Honors College.

Ruebel, who came to Ball State as dean and a professor of classical studies in 2000, died Sunday after an extended illness. He was 71.

“Jim Ruebel was the consummate colleague,” said Robert Morris, Ball State’s acting provost. “He loved Ball State and particularly adored the students in the Honors College.

“His kind and gentle nature was witnessed and appreciated by thousands of students over the years. His legacy of honor and academic rigor will live on through all of the students and for generations to come. He will be dearly missed.”

Morris said Ruebel’s reach went beyond Honors College, noting his willingness to serve the university through many committee appointments. He also was the faculty representative to the NCAA and Mid-American Conference from 2002 to 2013 and served the National Collegiate Honors Council as vice president (2012), president-elect (2013) and president (2014).

John Emert, who became acting dean earlier this year, called Ruebel a friend, mentor and advocate.

Ruebel took pride in molding young students — often mentoring them one-on-one — as they progressed through Honors College, which has an enrollment of about 1,150, Emert said.

The college’s programs offer highly motivated students academically challenging classes and various growth opportunities, including international studies.

“Thank you a million times over for believing in me and investing in me and teaching me and sharing yourself with me. I'm so thankful to have had you in my life.”

Drew Miles
Honors College student

“He had a vision of how students could move forward during their college careers and worked closely with as many as he could, playing a pivotal role in their lives,” said Emert, who worked closely with Ruebel over the last eight years as the college’s associate dean. “Jim worked hard to make sure each student was an active participant in his or her learning. Jim used to say these students were writing their own future.”

When contacted, one of the students mentored by Ruebel, Drew Miles, a senior in the Honors College, shared that he was devastated by the dean’s passing. He passed along comments he posted on social media.

“Thank you a million times over for believing in me and investing in me and teaching me and sharing yourself with me. I'm so thankful to have had you in my life,” the English major wrote. “You were inimitable and incredible and I am going to miss you so much, so very much. I hope to give as much as you did, to love as much as you did, and to help others like you've helped me.”

Emert believes the Honors College will continue to be a destination for top students enrolling at Ball State, thanks to Ruebel’s vision.

“He led a self-study of the college several years ago that helped us create a road map for the coming decade,” he said. “Our goal now is to continue down that path he created. We want live up to that potential.”

Barb Stedman, the college’s director of National and International Scholarships and an Honors Fellow, said Ruebel created an environment that made the Honors College the happiest placed on campus.

“He trusted those of us who worked with him to do our jobs and to do them well, never feeling any need to micromanage, but always cheering on our work with students,” Stedman said. “There’s no way to neatly summarize the impact that Jim has had on the Honors College, his co-workers and the thousands of students who’ve passed through the college. The Honors College, as it exists today — not only our physical home, in the Honors House, but also the new opportunities that have been offered to students — are because of Jim’s vision and dedication.”

Ruebel earned a bachelor’s degree in classics and ancient history in 1967 from Yale University, plus a master’s (1970) and doctorate (1972) in the same areas from the University of Cincinnati.

He began his academic career as an instructor at Cincinnati (1972-73) and then was a faculty member at the University of Minnesota (1973-78). Before coming to Ball State, Ruebel was a professor at Iowa State University (1978-2000).

Funeral arrangements are pending.

Survivors include his wife of 50 years, Connie; sons Jason and Matt; Matt’s wife, Christy; granddaughter Kendall; grandson Gage; and Tracie Ruebel.

The Ball State community is invited to remember Ruebel during an Oct. 23 memorial service at 1 p.m. in Sursa Hall. A reception will immediately follow at the Ball Honors House, the home of the Honors College.

The family has asked that gifts be made to the Honors College. They may be sent to Coralee Young, secretary to the dean of the Honors College, Ball Honors House, room 204, Ball State University, 2000 W. University Ave., Muncie, IN 46306. Checks should be made payable to the Ball State University Foundation.