Lucky Number 13

With extensive record, 13th president begins term

Christian Aleman and Todd Kleiboer

Jessie Cunningham
President Mark Rudin (right) stands with his daughter Izzy and holds a commemorative ball during the home season opener Aug. 30.

Christian Aleman, Todd Kleiboer | Co-Editors 

When asked ‘What’s the biggest change in moving from Idaho to Commerce?’, the 13th president of A&M-Commerce, Mark Rudin, did not hesitate in answering.

“The biggest change is the humidity and the mosquitoes,” he said with a laugh. “You used to be able to sit outside in Idaho, no bugs, no gnats, no flies, no mosquitoes, no humidity.”

Growing up near Chicago and working most recently at Boise State University and before that at the University of Nevada-Las Vegas, Rudin said that moving to the small town of Commerce was somewhat different.

“We like the city,” he said. “Commerce is kind of a shift but that’s okay.”

When looking at the position, Rudin said a number of things attracted him to Commerce, among them the “premium the university puts on student success.”

“This university is helping the students progress through their academic careers and graduations and so forth,” he said. “That’s a topic that’s near and dear to me also.”

Looking ahead in the short term, Rudin emphasized that the university should better advertise itself to the public and take more interest in faculty welfare.

“Faculty and staff are very good here,” he said. “But I want them to understand that I appreciate what they do, and I want them to know that they play a critical role in moving the university forward and supporting the most important people on campus, the students.”

In his long-term vision for the university, Rudin touched on the economic development that TAMUC and Commerce could work together on, something he lead at Boise State University as its vice president of economic development and research.

“I envision the university working closely with the city, working closely with the Commerce Economic Development Council, working closely with the Chamber [of Commerce] in attracting companies and growing companies in Commerce,” Rudin said. “I think the university can play an absolutely vital role in that.”

Specifically Rudin said that companies actively look for talent to hire, and pointed out that “nobody is going to move to Commerce unless there is a pipeline of talent that can supply them of their workforce needs.”

At Boise State, Rudin expanded research programs and secured funding through grants from federal agencies and national organizations, and said he would like to do the same here.

“I think there are real opportunities here in a number of different areas,” Rudin said. “One of the things I did at Boise was that we started engaging a bit with industry and talked to industry about research opportunities that we could work together on.”

Rudin also stressed student involvement in research, arguing that education and research “collectively both amount to learning,” and wants students, under the guidance of faculty members, to push university research efforts.

According to a 2016 New York Times article, more and more emphasis is being placed on STEM-related fields while leaving the fine arts and humanities by the wayside.  However, Rudin called himself a firm believer in the arts and humanities.

“If you check my record at Boise state and UNLV, you’ll see and there’s evidence of me being a staunch supporter of the arts and humanities,” he said. “Scientists and engineers need to know how to read and write also.”

In meeting with Student Government Association President Addison Jones, diversity among TAMUC faculty and staff was brought up as an issue, and when asked about it, Rudin said that he backed efforts to increase representation across the university.

“If we work towards developing a diverse staff and faculty that support the ambitions of our students, it’ll create a more inclusive campus,” Rudin said. “I think Commerce’s best and brightest days are ahead of us.”

Serving both rural and urban areas is also a goal of Rudin’s, and according to him, TAMUC’s various academic colleges are better suited to do this than most other schools.

“I’ll give you an example,” he said. “There are lots of opportunities for the business college to offer MBAs online and other degrees to folks in Dallas but there’s also rural business and ag-econ to consider. I’d love to have the discussion with business and figure out how we do both, serve both our urban and rural friends here.”

Following the tradition revived by previous TAMUC president Ray Keck, Rudin and his family live in Heritage House located near the Journalism Building and Ferguson Social Sciences Building.

Elizabeth “Libby” Rudin, his wife of 25 years, graduated from Purdue University and worked as a chemist at sites in Illinois and Nevada. His two daughters attend Commerce High School, and his son is finishing his undergraduate degree at Boise State University.

Rudin added that he and his family love interacting with students on campus and that he would take every opportunity he could get continue interacting with students.

“I’ve gotten into the habit of every morning between 8:30 and 10 a.m., I walk over to the Student Center and grab a Diet Pepsi, and that’ll happen everyday,” Rudin said. “Believe it or not, I’m starting to recognize people.”