The Nelson A. Rockefeller Center for Public Policy and the Social Sciences

Staff Profile: Timothy J. Ruback - Visiting Assistant Professor in Public Policy

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"Read beyond your expertise.  Your most inspired ideas will come from the most unexpected places."

Timothy J. Ruback - Visiting Assistant Professor

What was your most rewarding collegiate experience as an undergraduate or graduate?
I spent my junior year in Geneva, interning for the International Organization for Migration and skiing the Alps.  In that time I learned two things. First, I’m a much more confident skier than I am a capable skier.  But more importantly, I learned that I worked most effectively when focusing on my own research interests rather than organizational priorities. It was that time in Geneva, sitting in on endless UN meetings, that I discovered that I was meant to be an academic, rather than working for an IGO or NGO.

Why did you choose to work at Dartmouth College, and/or what do you currently most enjoy about your position and/or field of interest?

Political theorists don’t think or write all that much about leadership.  Isn’t this strange? After all, if we’re going to focus on questions of achieving ideological ends and extending democratic practices, we should also want to know how leaders might help us secure the political goals we seek.  So, when I was offered the opportunity to come to the Rockefeller Center to develop courses that focused on these themes, I jumped at the chance. Who wouldn’t?

What is your most important message to pass on to students?

Always be in the middle of a book that you don’t need to be reading.  Read voraciously and widely – even capriciously.  Read classics, genre fiction, poetry, plays, and essays on history, science, and sport, all without any reason in mind beyond your own interest.  Read beyond your expertise.  Your most inspired ideas will come from the most unexpected places: a stray fact, an accidental concordance, a surprising turn of phrase.

What hobby fuels you?
There are very few things I enjoy more than baseball on the radio.

What is one life experience or aspect about yourself that students do not know?
A long-running joke in my Ph.D.-granting institution is that only professors may wear those jackets with the leather patches on the elbows.  When I graduated, my colleagues gave me a pair of suede elbow patches, complete with needle and thread.  My diploma is gathering dust in a drawer; the patches are displayed prominently in my home office.

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