Celebrating Service: Special projects manager Jack Rutt keeps his finger on EMU’s pulse, but with a bit more time off

This year, several Eastern Mennonite University faculty and staff, among them Jack Rutt, are moving into retirement after many years of service. To acknowledge their service and deep commitment to our community, we’ve offered the opportunity for them to share favorite memories of their time here, as well as advice for those of us still laboring onwards.

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Jack Rutt calls this next transition period “moving to retirement.” He’s not quite there yet and may never be “fully retired.” In his current role of special projects support, Jack has provided oversight to some of the major facilities improvements on campus, including the completed Roselawn renovation and the ongoing Suter Science Center project [view completed Phase I renovations here and check out Suter West plans here].

He anticipates continuing to provide project management services “for some (yet to be determined) period of time on a very part-time, highly flexible schedule,” he says.

A 1972 graduate of EMU with a psychology degree, Jack was hired as director of information systems in December 1999 and remained in that position until his first “retirement” in May 2014. In all, he’s worked more than 16 years at EMU. (Before coming to EMU, he worked more than 20 years in various technology management roles in both small and large companies.)

Jack shared two highlights of being a part of EMU:

  • Seeing students who have just graduated from high school arrive on campus with much to learn, and then seeing those same students, four years later, involved confidently in campus activities where they have “come into their own” confirmed for me, over and over, that many good things happen at EMU that are transformative for the rest of these students’ lives.
  • I made it a priority to attend the chapel gatherings dedicated to returning cross-cultural groups. Many of these travelers shared the profound life-changing impact this experience had, yet another example of the transformation that happens to students during their studies here at EMU.

    With the successful conclusion of the $7.3-million “Suter East” campaign, attention now turns to "Suter West," with renovations planned to include state-of-the-art laboratories and facilities for a new engineering program, an update to the iconic SC 106 lecture hall, and new natural history museum.

    Jack Rutt continues his project management as Suter Science Center renovations move from the $7.3-million “Suter East” campaign to “Suter West,” with renovations to include state-of-the-art laboratories and facilities for a new engineering program, an update to the iconic SC 106 lecture hall, and new natural history museum.

His third highlight is a professional achievement, the installation of a software system that has affected university operations on a daily basis since its implementation in 2009.

  • The largest IS project during my time as director was the EX conversion, which took 18 months to complete and cost nearly $1 million. The software modules that provide systems functionality for the office of admissions, registration, business affairs, advancement, physical plant, institutional research, student advising and financial aid were converted from a legacy system on a dying computer platform to a modern system running on a Microsoft Windows platform. This change impacted every department and involved thousands of hours of training for many EMU employees.

Jack has high praise for his colleagues at EMU, “both those above me in the organization (my supervisors) and those I worked with directly (employees who looked to me for leadership).” One of his guiding principles in the workplace that he shared with us speaks to collaboration:

  • Collaboration trumps individual achievement. It has been my experience that the best solutions to problems are most often developed through a group process which is best served by leadership that ensures a shared understanding of the problem to be solved along with a shared expectation and understanding of what will be delivered. When in doubt, draw a picture to ensure that everyone is visualizing the same concepts.

In between projects, he and his wife Gloria Short Rutt ’72 will spend time with children and grandchildren. Son Eric Rutt ’01 and his wife, Mahlet Aklu ‘01, are in Boston, while daughter Megan Rutt Rosenwink ’02 is in Heidelberg, Germany. There are currently two granddaughters in Germany and a granddaughter in Boston, with a new sister expected to join her later this summer.

Jack also hopes “to establish a schedule that includes some part-time work, volunteering and pursuing my interests in music (perhaps some cello lessons), art/calligraphy, woodworking and gardening.”

Other retiring faculty and staff

Also retiring are the following faculty and staff (position listed is most recent held): Linda Alley, administrative assistant for events, director of the Summer Institute for Spiritual Formation and of the Congregational Resource Center, Eastern Mennonite Seminary, 27 years; Spencer Cowles, Department of Business, 27 years; Jan Gerber, Information Officer, 23 years; David Glanzer, Master’s in Counseling graduate program, 39 years; Ted Grimsrud, Department of Bible and Religion, 20 years; Betty Hertzler, postal supervisor, 41 years; Eldon Kurtz, director of the physical plant, 28 years; Roman Miller, Master’s in Biomedicine graduate program, 31 years; and Pamela Rutt, education graduate program director at EMU Lancaster, 18 years.