Israel Ruiz SM ’01 was appointed as executive vice president and treasurer (EVPT) by the MIT Corporation on Oct. 14, a position held for five years by Theresa M. Stone SM ’76. In that position, Ruiz will be among MIT’s senior leadership, working with President Susan J. Hockfield alongside the provost and chancellor. Most members of the MIT community are familiar with the latter three positions — all of whom have direct involvement in academics or student life — but many may wonder, “What exactly does the EVPT do?”
“The executive vice president and treasurer wears two hats,” Ruiz, formerly MIT’s vice president for finance, explained. One is a managerial role as the executive vice president, and the other a financial role as the treasurer. In the role of EVP, Ruiz coordinates with the senior administration to lead many of the Institute’s administrative functions and manage its resources. The EVPT works with human resources, IS&T, Facilities, MIT Medical, and many other departments to ensure that the Institute runs smoothly, providing “services that are worthy of MIT,” as Stone put it, “[setting] the platform to allow students and faculty to do their work.”
Ruiz’s other job, as treasurer, is to be MIT’s chief financial officer. He is in charge of budgeting and financial strategy, managing over $12 billion in assets and a $220 million capital budget. However, both the managerial and financial aspects of the position are integrated into Ruiz’s daily functions. He coordinates with the rest of MIT to ensure that “resources are deployed in a manner that best serves the mission of MIT,” he said.
“The ‘and’ means a lot in the title: executive vice president and treasurer,” he emphasized.
Ruiz says his main goal is to further the mission of MIT — defined by the Institute as “advancing knowledge and educating students in science, technology, and other areas of scholarship that will best serve the nation and the world in the 21st century.”
When he was nominated for the EVPT spot, he “embarked on a series of conversations with members of the campus — the community of MIT — to try to understand how to better understand their needs and pursue the mission [of MIT].”
Specifically, Ruiz said that one of his themes will be “advancing administrative excellence at MIT,” which encompasses his vision of a “digital MIT” — a push for digitization of administrative systems that he initiated during his tenure as VP of finance.
Ruiz defined one of his goals as “connecting [MIT’s] individual talents. MIT has tremendous excellence at the individual level, and it’s amazing to see how many individuals have enormous talents both on the staff side as well as on the academic side,” talents that he hopes to connect to get the best outcome for MIT. Ruiz also said he will support Hockfield’s vision of MIT’s increased involvement in manufacturing. “It’s an institute priority, and we try to support institute priorities in the best way we can,“ he said.
Ruiz previously worked for four years as MIT’s vice president of finance — a role he assumed under Stone’s tenure as executive vice president and treasurer. Stone worked with Ruiz and “saw the incredible skill he brought to the position [of VPF],” she said.
Stone added that Ruiz “has an unparalleled currency across the Institute in his ability to work with people from all parts of the Institute better than anybody.”
Ruiz said that his time as the vice president of finance will help in his new position. “Being grounded on the financial underpinnings of a very complex institution like MIT for the last 4 years positions me in a platform to understand how we are moving financially,” Ruiz said. He added that working as the VPF — reporting to both the EVPT and provost — he was able to understand MIT’s academic needs and priorities, and “how the financial resources of MIT propel mission in an academic sense.”
As the VPF, Ruiz was at the center of MIT’s finances after the financial crisis hit. MIT’s now-$10 billion endowment “fared quite well during the recession, comparatively speaking,” said Ruiz.
Ruiz says his office, and MIT in general, has paid close attention to what the recession will do to students coming to MIT and their economic possibilities.
“MIT needs its students and faculty, and this has been a paramount principle protected over the past few years, and it will continue to be in the future.”
More recently, Ruiz lead the successful sale of $750 million in revenue bonds to support the MIT 2030 program of campus development, which incorporates several major new construction and renovation projects.
The man behind the position
At home, Ruiz has twin daughters, 5 years old, and a son about to turn 2 — he says that his hobby is spending time with them. Before he had children, he had been on a quest with his wife to visit all the U.S. national parks, making it to 10 of them.
He is also an avid soccer fan, and records every soccer game he can over the weekend. He is a fan of his hometown team, FC Barcelona.
“I used to be quite involved with the team back in the day, and now still have very good friends that, when [Barcelona] won the last championship, they overnighted the jersey,” said Ruiz, pointing to the Barcelona jersey hanging on his wall — signed by Leo Messi, no less.