Dr. Esther Rumsey to retire from Sul Ross State University

ALPINE – Retirement means the continuation of a lifelong journey for Dr. Esther Rumsey. The Sul Ross State University professor of Communication will retire Aug. 31, but will return in October as director of International Studies on a half-time basis.

“When I was growing up, our family moved often, and I saw a great deal of the country over routes that included national park visits,” Rumsey said. “I always said, ‘I don’t need to leave the country,’ until I went to Europe for the first time.”

Her visit to Hawaii two years ago completed stops in all 50 states. Since coming to Sul Ross in 2001, Rumsey has added international travel from Australia to South Africa to Europe to China.

She said her initial visit to Europe gave her a better grasp of using public transportation during a trip to Washington, D.C. “Before I went to Europe, it never occurred to me to hop on the Metro and go downtown to see the White House. This (international travel) even made a difference in interacting here in the U.S.”

Rumsey believes international study opportunities have been very advantageous to Sul Ross, from cultural exchanges to study abroad options and for building the international student base. “As director (of International Studies) I hope to devote more time to developing orientation and support programs for international students and increasing opportunities for travel abroad,” she said.

Later this spring, she plans to visit bi-lingual high schools in Mexico City and Guadalajara to tell the Sul Ross story. Next fall, she will discuss international study opportunities in all the freshman classes.

“I hope to build this program to a sustainable level,” she said. “Ruoxi Wu (a former international student and a Sul Ross graduate) does a lot to help our international students. I am here, and when the cultural center opens on campus, there will be a place for them to meet and obtain information.”

During her Sul Ross tenure, Rumsey taught undergraduate and graduate level communication courses, advised a debate team and served as chair of Fine Arts and Communication for 12 years. “I love teaching and I love international studies. The problem is, you cannot do both because of the time needed for each.”

“I have worked at Sul Ross longer than anywhere else,” she said. “I love my students, my colleagues and teaching, but it is time for a change. The switch to International Studies combines my love of travel with the work.”

Rumsey earned a B.S. in Political Science (1977) from Willamette University, Salem, OR; M.A. in Communication (1979) from the University of Northern Colorado, Greeley. She was working as an accountant in New Jersey when she decided to re-enter higher education. She received her Ph.D. in Communication (2001) from Rutgers University, New Brunswick, NJ.

“I received my Ph.D. after my husband died, with the idea of teaching at a small school,” she said. “I am a firm believer that a small school offers something big universities cannot.” She credited George Bradley, Professor Emeritus of Communication, with encouraging her to apply at Sul Ross after they met at a conference.