Have you met Dr. Ben?
The 14th President of Delaware Valley University, Dr. Benjamin Rusiloski, has been a member of the DelVal community for over 25 years. Joining DelVal as an assistant professor of Chemistry in 1994, he has made a remarkable impact on the University's legacy of experiential learning and its commitment to affordability and accessibility for all students.
Learn more about Dr. Ben and the events that have shaped the leader he is today.
Where were you born and where did you grow up?
My mom was from Vermont, but my dad was from northeastern Pennsylvania. I was born in Bennington, Vermont, but when I was a couple of years old, we moved to Mountain Top, Pennsylvania and that’s where my three sisters were born. I’m the oldest of four and the only son.
What did your parents do?
My father was a high school teacher and coach and athletic director. My mom went back to college when we four kids were all in school. She pursued a degree in nursing and healthcare management through our local community college in Wilkes-Barre.
It was really good for me to see that she was doing that and my dad was going for his master’s degree. It made me appreciate what non-traditional students go through – the sacrifices they make and life balance.
Did you play any sports when you were growing up?
I did when I was really young, but I have to admit I was not such a gifted athlete.
If not sports, then what were your interests growing up?
From an early age, I loved math, I loved science, and I ended up being the statistician for a couple of the teams during junior high and high school.
Did you have any other extracurricular activities?
I was in a couple of theater productions at my school, and I also was very active in the Pennsylvania Junior Academy of Science. Every year in junior high and high school, I would work through the year on a science project. I was fortunate that my high school chemistry teacher and one of my high school mathematics teachers played a big role in helping me to see a career trajectory for me in the sciences.
What do you think those two teachers saw in you as a high schooler?
I think probably a curiosity about science, why things work the way they do, and a fascination with the things we see being an outcome of the things we can’t see. And I think they saw that I had a desire or an ability to help students with math and chemistry, which are challenging subjects. It led me down a path in teaching and a career in education.
So did teaching come first, or did leadership?
The teaching probably came first for me. My father was certainly a model for me as a teacher in terms of his interactions with students, both in and out of the classroom. He showed me the impact that people have in education, not just the day-to-day in the classroom, but the life lessons that are taught – particularly if you’re involved as a coach or an advisor.
My chemistry and math teachers, Mrs. Minnier and Mrs. Madden, also inspired me with the way they were able to present very complicated subjects.
What do you like to do in your free time?
The most important thing to me is my family. My wife and I have been blessed with three children. I have an adult daughter who’s a graduate of DelVal and works in Charles River Labs in Horsham. She’s a chemist and she lives only a mile from us in Doylestown, so we see her frequently.
And then we’ve got a 15-year-old daughter and a 13-year-old son. We are totally in spectator sport mode, watching them as they play their three different sports each during the year.
The other thing we like to do is get up to our family’s place in Vermont. That’s really the place where I rejuvenate and connect with my roots. The mountains, the air, walking the same areas that my great-grandparents, my grandparents walked – there’s something about it that keeps you grounded.
Do you read much?
Yeah, but, unfortunately, it’s become a lot less frequent. I used to be a big John Grisham, Tom Clancy fan. Now it’s more reports, compliance audits, and whatnot. I still try to read a lot of news. I’ve got a couple of books sitting on the bedside table right now on higher education and looking at emerging trends. I do like a good biography.
What gives you hope?
It’s looking at, in particular in recent years, the resilience I’ve seen in all three of my children and the 2,000-plus students for whom I have responsibility for here. How they’ve adapted. They’ve been creative. They’ve never given up. They never let the obstacles of the pandemic or other economic situations deter them from their goals.
I think it’s one of the great benefits of being in an environment where you’re around aspiring young adults who are very determined to make a difference in the world.
What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
Two things – both are from my mom and dad. Dad always used to say, “You never walk away from what brought you to the table.” It’s one of the reasons that I still teach first-year chemistry every semester because it keeps me connected to why we’re here – supporting the students but also supporting the faculty and staff.
And then Mom always said to me, “No matter what, take the high road.” And then she’d wink and say, “Because there’s a lot less traffic.” I always think of that when I’m faced with a challenge, whether it’s in the professional world or the personal world – always take the high road.
About Benjamin E. Rusiloski, Ph.D.
14th President of Delaware Valley University
Benjamin E. Rusiloski, Ph.D., was appointed president of Delaware Valley University in October 2021 with a unanimous vote of the Board of Trustees. He served as interim president from June to October 2021.
Dr. Rusiloski has served DelVal for more than 28 years and brings a wealth of higher education leadership experience to his role as president. Prior to serving as interim president, he served as vice president for Academic Affairs and dean of the Faculty since 2016. Previously, he was dean of the School of Life and Physical Sciences, chair of the mathematics and physics department and of the chemistry and biochemistry department, and professor of chemistry. He joined DelVal in 1994 as an assistant professor of chemistry after earning his Ph.D. in physical chemistry from Duke University and his B.S. in chemistry from King’s College.
DelVal was founded on the concept of “science with practice,” a concept which Dr. Rusiloski believes in strongly and that lives on through the University’s Experience360 program. Dr. Rusiloski led a task force of faculty, staff and administrators who designed and implemented the award-winning program in 2012.
Dr. Rusiloski is also passionate about affordability and accessibility. “What attracted me to higher education 28 years ago is exactly what has kept me here and motivates me each and every day. I see extraordinary faculty and staff who selflessly give of themselves working with outstanding and motivated students to achieve meaningful and significant career outcomes. Those outcomes will continue to be achievable for our students by evolving and developing robust, market-driven degree and workforce development programs that are grounded in strong corporate and industry partnerships in an environment that promotes opportunity and access for all.”
Dr. Rusiloski currently serves on the boards of Doylestown Health Foundation, Bucks County Foundation, and Bucks County Workforce and Economic Development. He, his wife and three children are long-time residents of Doylestown. Together, they enjoy hiking in Pennsylvania and Vermont, as well as attending their children’s athletic events. As Dr. Rusiloski continues to serve the community where he works and lives, he looks forward to positioning Delaware Valley University for a successful future.