MERCED, CA — With the University of California, Merced poised to move into high gear on recruitment of its first students, Encarnación Ruíz has been named as UC Merced's founding Director of Admissions with the mission to attract a talented and diverse student population to the new campus and develop a full-service admissions office. Ruíz assumes his new position March 1, 2002 after many years of service as Director of the UC Merced Office of Relations with Schools in Fresno.
"We are fortunate to have Encarnación Ruíz on our UC Merced team, as he brings a wealth of experience and a proven record of success in conducting University of California outreach to students throughout the greater San Joaquin Valley region," said UC Merced Chancellor Carol Tomlinson-Keasey. "His knowledge and understanding of this diverse region are outstanding, and he has an unrivaled passion for working with students, parents and educators to increase access to higher education for students of all backgrounds."
Specifically, Ruíz and the Office of Relations with Schools staff have nearly tripled the number of San Joaquin Valley students enrolling in the University of California since he helped open the Fresno outreach office in 1986. Over the years, Ruíz has taken the lead to create awareness of the University and worked with the region's high schools to ensure that students have access to the curriculum they need to meet UC's minimum requirements for admission.
"To be involved with the development of the UC Merced campus and to contribute what I have learned through working with so many wonderful teachers, counselors, students and parents around the Valley is a privilege," Ruíz said. "I believe in giving young people opportunities, and UC Merced provides an exciting opportunity for our region's students to attend a UC campus and study with the best faculty at a location close to home. A University of California education should be within reach of all qualified students, and we will keep working to boost awareness and academic preparation to continue increasing the number of students who are eligible."
Born in Tulare and raised in Goshen near Visalia, Ruíz also is dedicated to recruiting UC Merced students from all over the state and nation. He said he believes they will contribute to the diversity of the student population and overall educational experience on campus, and they will benefit from exposure to the Valley, its values and cultures.
Coupled with supervision of admissions outreach and recruitment activities, Ruíz will be in charge of designing the admissions office and developing admissions policies and procedures for the new campus. Implementing UC Merced's concurrent admissions program and working with faculty to coordinate articulation agreements with community colleges also are among his responsibilities.
Dedicated to helping students expand and reach their educational goals for more than 20 years, Ruíz became interested in student services when he worked as a sociology class tutor while studying at Visalia's College of the Sequoias. He gives credit to that community college's strong faculty and solid general education for laying the foundation for his academic and professional future.
Upon transferring to California State University, Fresno, Ruíz began his career with the University of California as an intern with the UC Santa Cruz Early Academic Outreach Program. Following his graduation with a bachelor's degree in social work in 1983, Ruíz continued working with UC Santa Cruz while at the same time working as a substance abuse counselor with Community Hospitals in Fresno. He then returned to CSU Fresno to join the staff of the College Assistant Migrant Program until he accepted a position in student outreach at UC San Diego.
From early childhood on, Ruíz gained an appreciation for the value of education and opportunity from his parents.
"My parents went to school through third grade and were literate in Spanish, but they had limited opportunities in Mexico. That's why my father brought us to California — so we would have the chance to find success," said Ruíz, one of 11 children. "Like so many other immigrants, my parents came to take advantage of employment in agriculture, and to provide their children with better prospects than they had and to encourage our pursuit of education, which my mom always pushed."
His own experiences have sensitized Ruíz to the challenges faced by many families in the San Joaquin Valley. That knowledge and understanding also have contributed to his success in reaching out to thousands of students in the region, first as a member of the UC Office of Relations with Schools staff and then, starting in 1990, as its director. In 1999, Ruíz became one of the initial members of the UC Merced staff when his office transferred to the new campus.
Under the direction of Ruíz, the outreach office recently created the first Early Academic Outreach Program (EAOP) for UC Merced. One of the first programs developed by UC Merced, EAOP targets students who may not already be college-bound for special services in support and academic preparation.
UC Merced currently employs more than 90 educators and professionals. With the main campus scheduled to open in fall 2004 to serve 1,000 students, UC Merced will grow to serve 25,000 students over the coming decades. UC Merced also contributes to educational access through the entire San Joaquin region via educational and outreach centers in Fresno and Bakersfield, and through the Tri-College Center in Merced. An additional UC Merced center is planned for Modesto.