Meet the President’s Cabinet – Rebecca McQueen-Ruark

Vice President of Student Affairs and Dean of Students (VPSA)

Our Team:
“Our team is responsible for many of the things that happen for our students outside the classroom; residence life, student activities, student organizations, fraternities, sororities, counseling, health services, parking, equity and inclusion, and student conduct. I also advise the Student Government Association.”

“I started working in higher education in 2002, so this past year was my 20th academic year as a professional. The entirety of my professional career has been at small colleges in residence life, then sophomore experience here, and now as the VPSA.

  • Residence director, Meredith College (Raleigh, N.C.)
  • Residence director – Appalachian State University (Boone, N.C.)
  • Assistant director of residence life – Elon University (Elon, N.C.)
  • Director of residence life, assistant dean of students – Pfeiffer University (Misenheimer, N.C.)”

What brought you to KWC?
“I came to KWC in May 2014 to be director of the Sophomore Experience Program (a James Graham Brown grant-funded program). My family had retired back to Leitchfield, and I was looking for a professional opportunity near them at a small college that would diversify my experience beyond residence life. KWC is very similar to my prior institution, and the people here were warm and welcoming, so I was excited to get the position. I served as director of the Sophomore Experience from 2014-2016 and then moved into student services in the summer of 2016. I was promoted from dean of students to vice president of student affairs in July 2019.”

What you enjoy most about your job?
“I have a front row seat to the growth that happens in our students. I am one of the first people to greet them on Move-In Day, and then I get to be on the stage at their commencement. Because of the opportunities we provide for our students both in and outside of the classroom at KWC, our students are challenged and supported while they grow intellectually, spiritually, emotionally and socially. And because we actually know our students, it really is awesome to see how they change during their time here. I also like that I never know what a day is going to bring. The unpredictability of working with college students keeps me on my toes and, I like to think, it keeps me young. Ha!”

What is the most challenging?
“For the last two years-COVID. On a residential campus, there are many moving parts to navigating a pandemic and keeping people safe where they learn and live. I had to be the face and voice of decisions and policies that were unpopular but necessary.”

Please share your favorite KWC memories.
“The Give Kids the World service trips we took as a part of the Sophomore Experience Program. I took the first group in December 2014, and we have had nine groups from KWC serve since. Getting to spend a week away from campus with students who have dedicated some of their break time to serving children with life-threatening illnesses and their families is such a fun and unique experience.”

What are your greatest accomplishments at KWC?

  • “The success of the Sophomore Experience Program from 2014-2017. Sophomore to junior retention grew from 46% to 81% in one year alone.
  • The addition of the director of counseling services. Before 2017, our students used a counseling service off campus. While it was a great service, it did not allow for relationship building, proactive on-campus programming, drop-in appointments or on-call counseling services. The addition of the position and Terri Petzold have been so important in our current environment.
  • The restructuring of student services. When I first came into the office, one assistant dean of students was responsible for residence life, student activities and Greek life. There was no way one person could do all those things effectively. We were able to add the director of student involvement position and later the coordinator of equity and inclusion. These added positions have allowed us to better serve our students and diversify the experience we provide.
  • Common student leader training. Beginning in August 2016, we bring in all student leaders from across campus offices a week early before August opening to train them on new policies and procedures and get them excited about the coming year.
  • The Stall Street Journal, the weekly calendar of events posted on social media and in restrooms across campus.”

What does The Wesleyan Way mean to you?
“The Wesleyan Way is a great opportunity for us to model for our students what is most important as they move forward in their lives. Love, honor, support, and integrity are all values and principles that will guide them toward professional and personal success and happiness.”

Some fun stuff:

 Other interests/hobbies/ways you relax
“I like swimming, watching reality television, shopping at Target”

Favorite vacation spot
“Atlantic Beach, N.C. We go every summer.”

Favorite movies
“Top Gun”, “Shawshank Redemption,” “Life is Beautiful”

You first job and what you learned
“Wendy’s in high school. I learned about how to work with and serve difficult people and, most importantly, how to get the grease smell out of my clothes.”

Someone you would like to have coffee with
“Eleanor Roosevelt”