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University hires Project Compass Director

The University of Maine at Presque Isle is pleased to announce the appointment of Mr. Eddy A. Ruiz as its Project Compass director, completing an effort that has been underway since the summer to establish a three-member retention team for the initiative.

Ruiz, whose full title is the Director of Student Success and Innovative Education, most recently worked in Los Angeles as the coordinator for AmeriCorps at the University of California at Los Angeles. In his new position, being funded through the Project Compass grant, Ruiz will oversee Project Compass efforts at the University to develop and improve culturally responsive strategies for its Native American students.

The University was awarded a major grant from the Nellie Mae Education Foundation in January to better serve its Native American student population as well as the region’s Native American community. The award made the University eligible to receive up to $750,000 over the next four years to put toward this effort. The University was one of four universities in New England chosen to participate in Project Compass, the Nellie Mae Education Foundation’s multi-year initiative aimed at increasing the number of underrepresented populations graduating with four-year degrees. Project Compass is administered by the foundation’s intermediary, the New England Resource Center for Higher Education.

Ruiz began work on October 26. With Ruiz, Luke Joseph, Coordinator of Retention Activities, and Myrth Schwartz, Administrative Assistant, Project Compass now has a full retention team in place.

“Eddy brings with him an exemplary record of experience and accomplishment working with underrepresented students, particularly Native American students,” Dean of Students Chris Corsello said. “Additionally, he has a strong academic background, experience in grant writing and grant administration, experience and ability to teach a wide range of courses within Native American studies, and is a strong retention strategist.”

Ruiz received a Master’s degree in Higher Education and Organizational Change from UCLA in 2006. He earned a Master’s degree in History at the University of Oklahoma at Norman in 2003 and his Bachelor’s degree in History from the University of California at Berkeley. He is currently a Ph.D. candidate in Higher Education and Organizational Change at UCLA, with an expected completion date of 2010.

His past professional experience includes serving as a Student Support Services Counselor at Louisiana State University at Baton Rouge, and as a specialist with the California Work Opportunity and Responsibility to Kids organization. He is a member of the National Institute for Native Leadership in Higher Education, the American Educational Research Association and the Association for the Study of Higher Education.

“Eddy Ruiz comes highly recommended across campus constituencies,” President Don Zillman said. “We are very pleased to welcome him to our community and look forward to the exciting work that is going to take place with Project Compass under his leadership.”