About a month after being named Garden City Community College’s next president, Ryan Ruda officially signed on to the job at the college’s Board of Trustees meeting Tuesday.

The board unanimously approved Ruda’s contract as president after a 20-minute closed session to review the document. The Trustees and the onlooking staff and community members applauded after the motion was passed. Later in the school year, the board plans to hold a reception to celebrate Ruda officially taking the job, said Board Chair Blake Wasinger.

“I very much embrace the opportunity here presented, to take Garden City, which is very near and dear to my heart, and the community college forward,” Ruda said, following the motion.

Ruda’s former position, vice president of instruction and student services, will now be split into two roles, according to a press release. Starting March 4, Dean of Student Services Colin Lamb stepped into one role, vice president of student services, and the other role, vice president of instructional services, is vacant and accepting applications.

The final contract set Ruda’s annual salary as $150,000, along with vacation and sick leave, fully covered family health insurance, a retirement plan and $15,000 annual contribution, $500,000 life insurance policy, Rotary Club membership dues and fees, a $800 monthly vehicle allowance and a $225 monthly cell phone allowance.

Wasinger and Ruda handled preliminary contract negotiations, and then Wasinger reached to board members individually for feedback, Wasinger said.

Prior to the new contract, Ruda was paid his normal $109,000 vice president salary, plus $2,000 a month over his five months as interim president.

Ruda’s predecessor, Herbert Swender, who separated from the college in August after nearly seven years as president, left GCCC with a $157,090 salary.

Swender’s benefits included additional coverage for an annual physical examination, paid expenses for two national meetings or conferences a year, covered membership dues for a service club and the Golf Club at Southwind, free passes to all college activities for his immediate family, an annual $3,000 payment to be used to promote the college, and an additional annual payment of up to 15 percent of his salary, more than $48,000 for out-of-state service credit with KPERS and an additional payment of $10,000.

The value of Swender’s salary and benefits upon his departure was $278,600, GCCC Attorney Randy Grisell said in August.

Ruda’s contract as president, which was given “room to grow,” will cost the college significantly less than Swender’s final contract, Wasinger said, and several benefits were left off because Ruda did not deem them necessary.

“I think you have to be cognizant about where it is you’re at, and you have to be cognizant about what it is that you’re asking the institution to embark on there, as far as overall costs. And ultimately, I feel like the contract represents the understanding that we’re trying to, I’m trying to, be not necessarily frugal, but wise about how it is we are utilizing the resources that we have available,” Ruda said.

Ruda’s higher vehicle allowance will act as a flat rate, rather than the allowance plus mileage reimbursement benefit noted in Swender’s contract, Wasinger said. Ruda’s $225 monthly cell phone allowance is higher than Swender’s $150. Swender’s contract did not include Ruda’s retirement contribution.

Like Swender, Ruda will enter into a three-year rolling contract, meaning terms will be valid until June 30, 2022, but be renewed annually for an additional year starting in 2020. The contract will take effect Wednesday but the salary and benefits will retroactively take effect beginning Feb. 13, the day after Ruda was named president.

Ruda has worked at GCCC for 20 years as a counselor and academic advisor, director of counseling and advising, vice president of student services, athletic director, chief administrative officer and interim president. He has carried out the president’s duties at GCCC since former President Herbert Swender left the school in August 2018.

He holds a bachelor’s in criminal justice and master’s in counseling from Fort Hays State University and a doctorate in community college leadership from National American University.

“I’m definitely humbled and looking forward to the opportunity. I’ve been here at this institution since 1999, so it’s something that means a lot to me. I hold it very near and dear to my heart there as far as … seeing the college be successful, but seeing the community be able to embrace the college and the true resource it is,” Ruda said.


Contact Amber Friend at afriend@gctelegram.com.