About Ruth Johnston

Ruth serves as the New Mexico State University system vice chancellor and chief operating officer to help set system-wide strategy, drive operational effectiveness and continuous improvement—while creating a climate of accountability, service, and trust. Ruth oversees the areas of Finance & Business Services, Facilities & Services; Enterprise Risk Management & Safety (including Audit Services, Environmental Health Safety & Risk Management, Policy Development & Implementation, the Police Department and Fire Department); Human Resource Services; Information & Communication Technologies; and Marketing & Communications.

Before this role, Ruth served as vice chancellor for the University of Washington (UW) Bothell Planning & Administration. She provided leadership for administrative, financial, facilities, IT, human resource operations, and governmental & community relations. Ruth established the University of Washington's sustainability office in 2008 and led the year-long effort to develop the UW's Climate Action Plan in 2009. She was instrumental in implementing a tri-campus sustainability policy and spearheaded visionary work in district energy, curriculum sustainability, and server centralization. Her efforts have led to global recognition for sustainability excellence in higher education. Her legacy continues to be a model for other institutions for sustainability integration across campus operations and stakeholder engagement. Ruth has presented at numerous national conferences on sustainability issues, including NACUBO, AASHE, and the Smart and Sustainable Campuses Conference.

Prior to UW Bothell, Ruth spent most of her career at the University of Washington Seattle in leadership roles across the institution. She holds a doctorate in organizational development and higher education, a master's degree in human relations, and a bachelor's in counseling psychology. Ruth serves as past president of the Western Association of College & University Business Officers' board of directors and the board of the National Association of College & University Business Officers. She teaches various classes and workshops and consults with higher education institutions, associations, and federal agencies.

List of Boards and Committees

  • Budget Realignment Initiative 
  • COVID-19 Pandemic Action Team (PAT)
  • Goal 4: Building a Robust University System
  • HRS User Experience Process Improvement
  • NMSU Foundation, Inc. (ex-officio member)
  • National Association of College and University Business Officers (NACUBO)
  • Western Association of College and University Business Officers (WACUBO)

Public Presentations