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He’s made a career out of promoting education

Frank Ruggirello’s dad wanted him to go into law like his two older brothers, but the youngest of five had other ideas. Although following his four siblings to Macomb and Michigan State University (MSU) was always part of the plan.

“My father was a truck driver and his biggest regret was that he didn’t go to college,” relates Ruggirello, who accumulated about 80 credits at Macomb before transferring to MSU. “With his encouragement, all of us went to Macomb, and it’s a huge part of why we have all done so well.”

Telling his dad he didn’t want to be a lawyer wasn’t easy, but the now 92-year-old still respects and supports his son’s decision. Adept with words, both spoken and written, Ruggirello opted for a major and career in public relations, earning a bachelor’s degree and embarking on a succession of posts with increasing responsibilities. He has worked in marketing and/or public relations for the City of Warren, Cranbrook Educational Community, Macomb Community College, Plymouth-Canton Community Schools and, most currently, Schoolcraft College, where he is executive director of marketing and advancement, a leadership position that includes a wide swath of responsibilities.

“Not only marketing, media services and communications, but fundraising and food service as well,” says Ruggirello. “I try to get into the office by 6 or 6:30 (a.m.) to get work done, but I don’t mind, I like being here. We get some time off over the holidays, and I usually start itching to get back a day or two before the vacation is over.”

Perhaps that is because returning to a community college has been a happy homecoming for Ruggirello, who made the decision early in his career to focus on education because of the difference it has made in his own life.

“Not everybody knows what they want to do in the eighth grade, and that’s why community colleges are so important,” says Ruggirello. “Macomb taught me what I wanted in a career. And my five years working there (as manager of public relations) were fantastic.”

During his time at Macomb, in fact, he experienced one of the happiest days of his life, when he married “the wonderful, beautiful” Linda Angelo, a former newspaper reporter who now works in marketing/public relations at Oakland Family Services. The couple lives in Clarkston with teenaged daughters Meagan and Julia. With his workday starting at dawn, Ruggirello tries to leave the office by 5 p.m. most days to spend time with his family. But there is one week in June where they expect to see little of husband or dad.

“Commencement and the week leading up to it are exhausting, but it’s the best part of my job,” says Ruggirello. “That’s when everything comes together and I see our graduates, many who are the first in their family to go to college, so happy. With the soft spot I have for Macomb, I love that I am finishing out my career at a community college.”