Virginia Ruesterholz ’83 Hon. D.Eng. ’08, Trailblazer, First Woman to Chair Stevens Board
Wherever you encounter Virginia Ruesterholz ’83 Hon. D.Eng. ’08, you can bet she will be ahead of the curve and facing a challenge head-on.
The state-of-the-art Ruesterholz Admissions Center that bears her family’s name is part of her vision for welcoming a new generation of innovators and technology pioneers. And under her leadership as Stevens’ first-ever female chair of the Board of Trustees, the university grew at an unprecedented rate.
But let’s back up for a moment. When Ruesterholz graduated in 1983, Stevens had been accepting women as students for just 12 years. Following graduation, she joined New York Telephone as a manager. Women were still seen by some managers as a solution to a perceived shortage of engineers, not candidates for management. Yet, at 23, she was placed in charge of a team of veteran union workers.
Through hard work, strategic thinking and persistence, she excelled and began what would become an exceptional 28-year career with Verizon, during which she held many transformational leadership positions. As president of Verizon Telecom, a $30 billion unit that serves the consumer, general business and wholesale markets, Ruesterholz led the nationwide rollout of Fios, the company’s fiber-optic network. She also served as president of Verizon Services Operations, a $10 billion unit of 25,000 employees responsible for Verizon’s global network, sourcing, supply chain and real estate operations.
These accomplishments were recognized nationally. Ruesterholz was a recipient of the Crain’s New York Business prestigious “40 Under 40” award and the New York Women’s Agenda’s inaugural Rising Star Award. She was invited to serve on the boards of Fortune 500 companies such as the Hartford Financial Services Group and Bed Bath & Beyond.
Stevens welcomed Ruesterholz to its Board of Trustees in 2007. In 2013, she became the university’s first-ever female chair, serving in that role until 2018. During the period she steered the university as it pursued an ambitious ten-year strategic plan, presiding over a period of dramatic growth in enrollment, graduation rate, faculty cohort, research support, infrastructure, endowment and recognition. She also served on the advisory board of the university’s School of Systems and Enterprises and co-chaired the Edwin A. Stevens Society for annual leadership-level giving. In 1995, Ruesterholz received the prestigious Stevens Honor Award. She continues her involvement with Stevens today as an emeritus member of the President’s Leadership Council and a member of the Board of Trustees.
She has also supported numerous scholarship funds, most recently for the ACES initiative that provides access to opportunities for students from underserved communities. When she and her husband Kevin Ruesterholz ’83 made one of the first major gifts to The Power of Stevens fundraising campaign in 2014, they sparked a renewed sense of campus pride: the Ruesterholz Admissions Center has since welcomed thousands of prospective students and other visitors to campus, an inviting introduction to the university and a fitting reflection of the Ruesterholz family’s dedication to their alma mater.
Today Stevens is re-energized and prepared for its next 150 years of evolution and impact, thanks in part to Virginia Ruesterholz’s pioneering vision and leadership.