Catherine J. Ruggieri

ProfessorProfessor, Dean Emeritus
JD, Brooklyn Law SchoolNon-Degree Studies, Women's Studies, Brooklyn College, CUNY
Catherine Ruggieri is a professor of management, marketing and fashion management in the Collins College of Professional Studies. She was appointed Acting Dean of the College, then St. Vincent’s College, in Fall 1980, at 28 years of age the youngest academic dean in the University’s history and approved as the permanent Dean in 1981. Ruggieri served as the College’s third Dean, and as Associate Vice President and Dean from 1981-1993. She presided over a period of tremendous growth for the College. When she began working in St. Vincent’s, there were only three bachelor’s degree programs, Communication Arts, Computer Science, and Criminal Justice. Ruggieri was an integral part of the addition of subsequent degree programs and courses still offered today. She concurrently served as the University Director of Study Abroad from 1987 to 1992, primarily overseeing the College Europa program based in Hungary, with a three country travel component. She remembers flying to Hungary with the students in January 1991 during the Gulf War, to personally make sure they would be safe. Ruggieri returned to Commencement two days later!

In the Spring 1990, University President Rev. Donald Harrington, CM, after consulting with students, asked Dean Ruggieri to serve as Chairman of the first President’s Committee on Multicultural Concerns. This important initiative brought attention to the students’ needs, held sensitivity training for top level administrators, designed “Harmony Day,” a special event, when all classes were cancelled and the President, and Student Government Presidents, addressed the entire University community. St. John’s and its President were cited positively for this event by the Regional Director of OCR.* Other actions included hosting the President’s Reception for Multicultural Students and directing the creation of individual college committees to study student concerns and curricula initiatives.

As Dean, she initiated the college’s concept of “co-curricular” student organizations, such as the Television Club, where students earned credit working together with faculty. St. Vincent’s College faculty also, during her tenure, began offering courses in England (Communication Arts, F. Brady), (Criminal Justice, H.C. Collins). She also consulted with Dr. Max Eng, Professor of Economics at the Tobin College, in writing a graduate economics course he offered in Hungary. Ruggieri created the College’s innovative student advisement program, staffed by caring faculty, which students frequently praised (it was succeeded by the University Freshmen Center.) Working with St. Vincent’s Assistant Deans Monica Farrell and Robert Tomes based at the Staten Island Campus, she initiated the shuttle bus which was helpful to students and to faculty in any school. As academic dean, Ruggieri hired many full-time faculty; Dr. Almerinda Forte, Dr. Oscar Holt, Dr. Glenn Gerstner, Dr. Lez Edmond, Dr. Andrea Licari, Dr. Joseph Kenny, Dr. Susan Glanz, Professor Bernard Helldorfer, Dr. Tom Giordano, Dr. Carmine Gibaldi, Dr. Joyce Boland-Devito, Dr. Peter Cardalena, Dr. Peter Scott, Dr. Martin Farbman, and many many more (sincere apologies to any omitted). She is especially proud of the administrators she helped to begin careers at St. John’s, (they know who they are.) At the school’s peak, enrollment was 4,950 day, evening and weekend students with 160+ full-time faculty and 300+ adjunct faculty. Retention of the college’s two-year students was 85%, cited positively by external reviewers.

As a faculty member, in 2015, she wrote a proposal for the College to begin a new Fashion Institute and invited Dr. Licari to be Director. (Licari taught a course on fashion and careers.) In 2017, Ruggieri wrote rationales and prepared two formal degree proposals for the BS degree in Fashion Studies and the MS degree in International Hospitality Management, now both successful programs. Ask her what she has enjoyed at St. John’s the most, and she will tell you about the students she personally worked with when she was Dean and in the years before and after. Her office door was always open to students and faculty. She interviewed many hundreds of incoming students, held follow up meetings once they enrolled at St. John’s; and still hears from many of them today. She is grateful for the incredibly gifted supervisors she worked with at St. John’s who taught her that people were always most important. She frequently says the wonderful faculty who supported her as Dean made all things possible. And the unforgettable staff who gave of themselves every single day, answering every student question, empathizing with every student and supporting faculty.

Ruggieri holds a BA and MBA from St. John’s University. She was honored in 1987, with two other University administrators by Hungary’s Ministry of Education for the College Europe Program. Ruggieri was awarded the President’s Medal, the Pietas medal, and a 30 Year Achievement Medal by St. John’s University Presidents. In 1995, Ruggieri was honored with the Dean Emeritus title by the Board of Trustees. In 1998, she received her JD from Brooklyn Law School and was awarded the Women’s Leadership Award. She is admitted to the practice of law in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut. She has written on inclusive teaching, employment discrimination and other topics related to her personal and research interests.

*Health and Human Services, Office for Civil Rights

Courses Taught