Jill Shaw Ruddock, of the Class of 1977, wears many hats — those of author, patron of the arts, philanthropist, publisher, and accomplished executive in the world of investments and securities. For her generous contributions to society, Shaw Ruddock has been selected by the Bowdoin College Board of Trustees to receive the 2012 Common Good Award.
Established in 1994 on the occasion of the Bowdoin College Bicentennial, the Common Good Award honors those alumni who have demonstrated an extraordinary, profound and sustained commitment to the common good, in the interest of society, with conspicuous disregard for personal gain in wealth or status.
Over the course of her career, Shaw Ruddock has shared generously her talents, energy and resources to advance the common good. Raised in Baltimore, Md., and educated in its inner-city schools, Shaw Ruddock went on to major in government at Bowdoin, where her involvement included membership in the Psi Upsilon fraternity, editorship of The Bugle, a semester at the National Theater Institute in Connecticut and another semester studying in Vienna, Austria.
Following graduation, Shaw Ruddock established herself in the world of advertising and publishing, launching three new magazines for the Goldhirsch Group and later working as a consultant for The Atlantic Monthly. Her business acumen was recognized at the investment banking and securities brokerage firm Alex Brown & Sons, where she successively held the positions of vice president, principal, and managing director of the firm’s London office. Shaw Ruddock credits the College with imbuing in her the fearlessness that has emboldened her along the way.
“I never feared that I wasn’t going to have success, because there was something about Bowdoin, for me, and I think for so many people, where you just have a smell of success,” Shaw Ruddock told Bowdoin magazine (Summer 2011).
“Bowdoin sort of gives you that feeling that you could be successful in life and I think you take that with you.”
Despite the demands of a busy professional life, Shaw Ruddock always found time to serve Bowdoin in important ways, as an overseer of the College from 1991 to 1996, and as a trustee from 1996 to 2000.
She and her husband, Paul, established the Shaw Ruddock Museum of Art Fund in 2007; another gift created the Shaw Ruddock Gallery in the renovated Walker Art Building.
Shaw Ruddock and her husband make their home in London, where she has devoted her time and energies as a board member of Donmar Warehouse Projects nonprofit theater, and The Mousetrap Theatre Projects, which afford opportunities for young people with limited resources or disabilities to engage with the world of theater.
Shaw Ruddock is also a patron of the Royal National Theatre, the Almeida Theatre and Sadler’s Wells Dance House.
Shaw Ruddock’s latest endeavor is the critically acclaimed book, The Second Half of Your Life, published in 2010, which addresses women’s attitudes and the issues associated with their lives after the age of 50.
Riding the wave of rave reviews, Shaw Ruddock started The Second Half Foundation and The Second Half Centre to create a place where women and men over 50, from all socioeconomic circumstances, could learn new skills, build social networks and find ways to make the “second half” of life fulfilling.
Common Good Award recipients personify the idea of the common good as set forth by Bowdoin’s first president, Joseph McKeen. In his inaugural address on September 2, 1802, McKeen reminded his audience that, “It ought always to be remembered that literary institutions are founded and endowed for the common good and not for the private advantage of those who resort to them for education. It is not that they may be able to pass through life in an easy and reputable manner, but that their mental powers may be cultivated and improved for the benefit of society.”
The Common Good Award is presented during Reunion Convocation, Saturday, June 2, 2012.