Ruth J. Jackson, ’59, remembers walking early in the morning from Heritage Halls to the Smith Fieldhouse for devotionals. The land where the Wilkinson Center now stands used to be occupied by orchards. “Sometimes I would be the only one out there,” Jackson says. “I developed my bravery in those orchards.”
After reading Jackson’s impressive résumé, you’d think she had never been scared of anything. And in 2003 she added to the list when she took on a new daunting role—president of BYU’s Emeriti Association.
Jackson became involved with the Alumni Association after serving on her class reunion planning committee. She was later asked to serve on the board of the Emeriti Association. “It is just a choice opportunity for me to be involved once again and see the integral part that BYU is of the entire program of the Church.”
The Emeriti Association includes alumni who graduated at least 40 years ago as well as retired BYU faculty and staff. At an annual meeting in February the association will induct the class of ’64.
“I would encourage any alumni who are getting close to emeriti status to take advantage of the opportunities to reconnect with BYU,” says Jackson. “They’ll find a lot of joy in doing it, and they will renew friendships with a lot of people they haven’t seen in a very long time.”
Quinn G. McKay, ’54, past president of the Emeriti Association, says, “Ruth is a high energy woman. When she sets her mind on something, she has the energy and commitment to see it through. She has some strong organizational skills. Under her leadership we’ll see some exciting things happen. The emeriti will become much more involved in BYU.”
Jackson hopes emeriti will find ways to participate in the work of the university. “They can mentor students, participate in Take a Cougar to Lunch (see p. 72), and join in other projects on campus.”
Reminiscing about her time at BYU, Jackson says, “The university experience helped me to have confidence in my ability to think and to work with people.” Though she taught elementary school for only a short time following her graduation with an elementary education degree, she says BYU gave her a great starting point for her long involvement in education. After working to get a branch of Snow College in Richfield, Utah, her hometown of 40 years, Jackson was director of the center from 1996 to 2000.
She served on the Utah Governor’s Commission for Centennial Values and has been on Utah’s Commission for Women and Families since 1996. “I didn’t expect to go any further than the state commission,” says Jackson, but several associates urged her to participate on the national level.
In 2003 Jackson was elected for a two-year term as president of the National Association of Commissions for Women, a national women’s advocacy group headquartered in Washington, D.C. The association, which consists of more than 270 state, county, and municipal commissions, acts as a national voice for women’s issues—from health and education to legal issues and protection from battery.
“I’m neither the most educated nor the most connected member of the association, but I’ve learned to work with people and delegate authority,” Jackson says. “They were in need of those skills.”
Showing no signs of slowing down anytime soon, Jackson plans on serving a mission with her husband after her commitments with the Emeriti Association and the National Association of Commissions for Women end. “Its an interesting time of life because at earlier stages I expected by now to be able to have time to read a lot of books and sit in my rocking chair.”
Info: For more information about the Emeriti Association, contact Todd Hendricks: email@example.com, 1-800-437-4663, or 801-422-7621.