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Karen Van Ruiten and her dog Lady
"I look forward to establishing working relationships with new departments. I’ve made a treasure trove of friends over the years through my experiences at ENMU," says Karen Van Ruiten, who began working at ENMU in 1993. She is pictured with her dog, Lady.

Karen Van Ruiten was recently named the executive secretary to the president and Board of Regents at Eastern New Mexico University.

Her duties include general administrative assistant procedures for the president and preparing agendas and setting up Board of Regents meetings on all three campuses. She is "still in the process of learning all that this position encompasses" since she moved to the Office of the President on Oct. 9.

"I look forward to establishing working relationships with new departments. I've made a treasure trove of friends over the years through my experiences at ENMU," said Karen, who began working at ENMU in 1993 as a secretary for Wendel Sloan in Information Services. Within a year, she became the executive secretary for University Relations.

She worked until the day her youngest son was born in 1998 and decided to stay at home with her three boys. She returned to Eastern in 2014 as an administrative secretary in Financial Aid and moved to Academic Affairs in 2016.

"Although I very much loved Academic Affairs, I saw this job as a great opportunity for advancement," explained Karen. "All of the positions I've held at ENMU have helped me come full circle in understanding the processes and inner workings of this institution.

"There was a huge learning curve in Academic Affairs, but the information I learned in that office is now an integral part of my current duties," she continued. "What I find most interesting is how procedures have changed and progressed over the years."

One of the changes she encountered was the process of being in charge of the "Monday Memo" when it was printed on paper and delivered by campus mail every other Friday. The information that used to be in the "Monday Memo" is now fully online. "I'm so proud that we no longer kill so many trees," she said.

She also notes changes in the distribution of the University Directory, which is now all online; she used to compile the entries, which were printed and sent to all campus departments. "As you can imagine, as soon as the directory was published, it was already out-of-date as soon as personnel changes were made."

Karen says that Deborah Bentley, who will retire from her role as executive secretary to the president and Board of Regents on Oct. 31, is "precious and irreplaceable. She leaves big shoes to fill, figuratively not literally. She is a true picture of professionalism and grace and has shared so much of her personal touch and how she handles processes and situations.

"Although I suspect I will bring my own 'flavor' to this position, I know I won't ever replace the Queen Bee."

She looks forward to working with Dr. Jeff Elwell and the Board of Regents, who have all been "extremely welcoming and kind."

Karen has lived in Portales since 1991 and raised her family here. She is married, with three sons and one daughter. Her sons are grown and her daughter is in high school.

"Although I do not look forward to an empty nest, I hope to spend my spare time traveling a bit more and possibly taking up piano again," she said.

Her favorite thing about ENMU is that it "appears to be a little oasis in the midst of the desert. We have such talented faculty to teach our students and very hard-working staff members."