Alumni Spotlight: Cara Rubis
Photo Courtesy of UWRF Communications
From its inception to its current state, the University Center (UC) has been a centerpiece of the campus at UW-River Falls, and one alumna has helped shape the building since day one.
Cara Rubis is currently serving as the director of the UC. She is in charge of maintaining the building as well as the services inside the building. This includes setting long-term goals for the building, financing its budget, planning events, managing the school’s dining services as a liaison with contractor Chartwells and, as of fall 2016, overseeing the Student Involvement Office. Since 1993, she has had a strong presence on campus both as a student and staff member.
Originally from North Branch, Minnesota, Rubis initially came to UWRF as a student athlete, receiving a letter from head volleyball coach Patti Ford (who still coaches at UWRF today). Rubis’ mother also attended River Falls, which added to sparking her interest to attend. After taking the tour of the school and meeting the volleyball teammates, she decided to commit to the school.
Having grown up on a farm, Rubis said she enjoyed the rural atmosphere that the town of River Falls had to offer, which made her feel right at home attending school there.
“I think the size of the institution, the amount of green space and just how comfortable I felt made me come here,” she said.
Driven immensely by athletics, her performance with the volleyball team led her to be inducted to the UWRF Athletic Hall of Fame, and was a two time All American athlete and the first volleyball player to be awarded the title. She has also worked as an intramural employee, taking on the role of a volleyball official, and worked as a student employee at the Knowles Center.
Being very athletically driven, she majored in health and human performance and minored in business administration. Because UWRF does not offer a sports management degree, she decided to create her own degree by combining two disciplines together, inspired by her interests in facilities management as well as athletics. This also allowed her to continue her role in the volleyball team and to gain experience working as a student employee in facilities management.
In addition to graduating with her bachelor’s degree, she would later go on to a master’s degree in management.
After graduation, Rubis worked in the Twin Cities before securing a part-time position with the Recreation and Sports Facilities at UWRF. During a span of nine years, she worked from a limited term position toward an associate director’s position. She would eventually be offered her current position working as director of the then-newly constructed UC, and has held the role for almost a decade.
Running the most prominent building on campus can be tricky at times, but has been a challenge worth taking for Rubis and her staff since the building opened back in January of 2007. As many students wanted to have an eco-friendly building, the UC was built during a time when sustainability was a fairly new concept, one that the state of Wisconsin was not accustomed to yet. Since the UC’s inception, it has won multiple awards for its sustainable practices.
“That was a pretty incredible thing for our students to be so forward-thinking at the time,” Rubis said. “We were more forward-thinking that the state of Wisconsin was.”
In addition to being responsible for the building’s operation, Rubis has taken on the the role of looking over Student Involvement, after Director of Student Involvement Paul Shepherd left the university earlier this year.
When asked about her new role, she said that she’s looking forward to improving the experience of clubs and organizations through guidance and resources.
“It’s already very popular on campus,” she said, “but you can always improve on that.”
Rubis and her staff also look forward to replacing the vacant position with an associate director under her position, and plan on trying to keep the programs for students up and running despite understaffing. She said she looks forward to the days to come for Student Involvement and will focus her attention on activities that take place in the UC.
Regarding advice, Rubis said that getting involved is a very important aspect that students should take advantage of, as the opportunities that the campus has in comparison to when she attended is incomparable.
“We attract great, hard-working and modest students,” she said. “They have drive, they have spirit and I think that it’s a great university to attend.”