The Oregon State University Sesquicentennial Oral History Project

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Jim Rudd Oral History Interview

Life history interview conducted by Chris Petersen.

August 19, 2015


James Harold Rudd was born in Sac City, Iowa in 1948. Due to his father's position as a criminal investigator for the U.S. Army, Jim's family moved frequently; over the first ten years of his life, Rudd lived in six different locations, including Heidelberg, Germany and Fort Lewis, Washington, where Jim first developed an affection for the Pacific Northwest. When Jim was ten years old, his father died of a heart attack, after which his mother moved the family back to Sac City, where Rudd and his sister grew up. Jim participated in sports throughout school and found that his coaches served as mentors and father figures to him.

In 1966 Rudd enrolled at the University of Northern Iowa with the intent of studying to become a high school business teacher and football coach. Rudd also played football at UNI. In 1970 he received his bachelor of arts degree in business, complemented by minors in physical education and health. He remained at the school to pursue graduate studies and to work as a graduate assistant coach with the football team, and in 1972 he was hired as athletic business manager by the UNI athletic department.

In 1974 Rudd grasped an opportunity to return to the Pacific Northwest by accepting a position in the Oregon State University athletic department as Director of Sales, Promotion, and Development. Later promoted to associate athletic director, Rudd helped start the Beaver Club (now called Our Beaver Nation), a booster group formed from what had been known as the Buck A Month Club. A member of the athletic department's senior administrative council, Rudd also developed a close connection to the OSU President's Office and was likewise involved with the OSU Foundation's efforts to raise funds in support of athletics at Oregon State.

In 1982 Rudd left OSU for Portland and a new career at Ferguson Wellman Capital Management Inc., an investment advisory firm. Initially working in marketing and outside sales, Rudd later shifted to portfolio management, and ultimately became CEO and principal of the company. In 2004 Rudd was also selected to be the director of the Portland Branch of the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco; he was elected as Chairman of the Board of the branch in 2005 and held the position for six years. Rudd has likewise been active with the Oregon Consular Corps and has served as the state's honorary consul to Romania since 1994.

In the years following his departure from OSU, Rudd maintained a close connection with the university, particularly through his continuing involvement with the OSU Foundation. Initially a member of the Foundation's planned giving council, Rudd also served on the Foundation's investment committee during his early years of association. He joined the OSU Foundation Board of Trustees in 1993 and, later, was a member of its governing board. He remained a Foundation board member until 2007, serving as chair fro 2004 to 2006. In 2006 he also agreed to co-chair the steering committee for the Campaign for OSU initiative that ultimately secured over $1 billion in private funds for use at Oregon State. Rudd had previously worked in a similar capacity for Oregon Health Sciences University, and continues to maintain close ties to activities at OHSU.

For his commitment to OSU, Rudd has received the Joan Austin Honorary Alumni Award, acknowledging those who have contributed greatly to OSU and its Alumni Association but not received a degree from the university. In 2015 Rudd was also given the Lifetime Trustee Award, the highest honor bestowed by the OSU Foundation.