Ruth Waalkes joined Virginia Tech in September 2009 as Executive Director of the Center for the Arts. In January 2013 she was named Associate Provost for the Arts, in addition to serving as the center’s Executive Director. In these roles she is responsible for setting strategic direction and creating programmatic priorities for university level arts initiatives; and for leading the overall development, artistic programming, and operations of the Moss Arts Center.
Previously Ms. Waalkes was Director of Artistic Initiatives for the University of Maryland’s Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center in College Park, MD, which she helped to launch when it opened in 2001. At the Clarice Smith Center she was responsible for all artistic programming encompassing presented performances, residencies, campus and community engagement, and commissioning of new works. During her tenure there she built a significant national profile for the Clarice Smith Center and established the center as a vital part of both the University of Maryland campus community, and the greater arts landscape in the Washington, DC region.
Ms. Waalkes has more than twenty five years' experience as a leader in arts administration and community-based nonprofit management. Past positions include serving as director of alumni affairs for the A. James Clark School of Engineering at the University of Maryland. Before moving to Maryland she served for four years as executive director of Volunteer Fairfax in Northern Virginia, directing all aspects of this nonprofit service organization and leading it to significant new levels of growth. Prior to that she worked for five years with the Arts Council of Fairfax County as the director of programs, where she managed all performing and visual arts initiatives and served as artistic producer for the council’s annual International Children’s Festival, held at Wolf Trap Farm Park for the Performing Arts.
A native of Holland, Michigan, Ms. Waalkes received her bachelor’s degree in theatre and drama from the University of Michigan. She has participated in numerous community-based volunteer capacities throughout her career, and has served as a grant review panelist for the Virginia Commission for the Arts, Creative Capital Foundation, and the National Endowment for the Arts. She has been a speaker at national conferences including the Association of Performing Arts Presenters, Chamber Music America, the Alliance for Arts at Research Universities, and the Society of College and University Planners.