John Ruff


John Ruff Professor of English
Walter G. Friedrich Professor of American Literature
219.464.5284 Arts and Sciences Building 230
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Professor Ruff joined the Valparaiso University English faculty in 1989.

At Valpo, he particularly appreciates the size of the community — a person can make a difference.

Professor Ruff thinks of teaching and learning as a form of gift exchange and thinks of literature as a great feast to which we all ought to feel invited. In the writing class, in the literature class, we all bring something to the page, and we all take something away. He feels lucky to be part of such movable feasts.

He specializes in teaching first-year students, literary modernism, poetry, children’s literature, and American literature. He has an immense appreciation for William Blake because of Blake’s accomplishments in both visual art and literature. He also admires James Joyce and Henry James. His favorite novel is Joyce’s “Ulysses.” A favorite literary character is Ratty in Kenneth Graham’s “The Wind in the Willows.”

In his spare time, Professor Ruff enjoys cooking, making furniture, traveling, and hiking.

Professor Ruff previously served as director of Valpo’s Core program for freshmen. He is on the Wordfest Committee, Faculty Senate, the Curriculum Committee for the College of Arts and Sciences, the General Education Oversight Committee, and the Collection Committee for the Brauer Museum of Art. He says that “putting together Core was the most exciting thing I’ve done in my academic career.”

His wife, Gloria, is assistant curator at the Brauer Museum of Art. They have two daughters and two grandchildren.

Professor Ruff has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize for his creative writing. His poems have been published in Seneca Review, Poetry Northwest, River City, and elsewhere.

Professor Ruff received his Ph.D. from the University of Washington.


Ph.D. – University of Washington
M.A. – College of St. Thomas (Minnesota)
B.A. – St. John’s University (Minnesota)