INA – One is reaching the end of his career at Rend Lake College. The other is still in the beginning of his. What bridged the gap between Ed Ruffino and Chad Copple this year was hard work and dedication. For that, they were named recipients of the college’s annual Outstanding Staff Member Award at this year’s RLC Board-Faculty-Staff Dinner.
Ruffino, 56, of Benton, has been the director of the college’s Student Transfer And Retention Support program, or STARS, for the past three years. However, his roles at the college have spanned more than the past two decades and include grant writer, coordinator for the Early School Leaver Program, counselor, coordinator of cooperative education and job placement, disability services coordinator, and director of the RLC Center for Business Services. The majority of his time was spent as Early School Leaver Program Coordinator. Throughout the title changes, he has been a mentor and role model to hundreds of college students looking to succeed at RLC.
“... [Ruffino] has always been a true team leader,” stated Workforce Investment Act Coordinator Paula Myers, who has worked with Ruffino at RLC for 21 years. “He always adapted to whatever position he was in and volunteered on many occasions to go beyond his regular duties. He always puts the students as the number one priority.”
Dean of Student Services Lisa Price pointed out that, when Ruffino became STARS Director, he asked to continue on helping with AmeriCorps but didn’t want any compensation for the work. “‘Whatever I need to do to make sure that the Rend Lake College bus keeps moving forward,’ is Ed Ruffino’s motto,” Price stated. “... Ed has always been willing to take on extra duties with the hope of keeping the RLC bus moving forward.”
In her letter nominating Ruffino for the award, STARS Administrative Assistant Elena Pruitt wrote, “Working with Ed has been inspiring and I will be sad to see him go in June when he retires. ... One thing is for sure. When Ed leaves, the college will lose one of its greatest assets.”
Ruffino will retire next month. He lives in Benton with his wife Connie and loves golf.
Copple, the 30-something director of marketing and public information, is a resident of Mt. Vernon. He started working as director of public information in 2003 and took over for retired marketing director Bob Kelley in 2006, at which time the two departments merged.
Copple is involved with and directly responsible for numerous marketing initiatives and other projects throughout the year, including the Higher Learning Commission’s accreditation study of RLC. His work on that appeared to be the most influential in college officials selecting him for this award.
“[Copple’s] most obvious contribution to the institution over the past year was his service and dedication to the Higher Learning Commission accreditation process,” wrote Vice President of Academic Instruction Chris Kuberski in her letter nominating Copple for the award. “... His involvement significantly changed in the summer of 2008 when he was asked to expand his role to become one of the lead writers/designers of the document. Chad never ‘complained’ about the extra work. He was always willing to listen to suggestions and go the extra mile to meet the expectations and requests of the Steering Committee. ... Chad worked long hours and was certainly worthy of the ‘Weekend Warrior’ title bestowed upon him.”
She called his hard work a “reflection of his dedication to the institution and his colleagues.”
A graduate of RLC, Copple holds a bachelor’s degree from Southern Illinois University at Carbondale and is currently pursuing a master’s degree from McKendree University. He is a vital member of the HLC and marketing committees at RLC, graduated from the college’s Emerging Leaders Institute and is the former Vice President of the Jefferson County Chamber of Commerce’s Educational Clearing House Council. He lives in Mt. Vernon with his wife, Darlene, and their daughter, Sadie.