Robert B. Ruddell (Inducted 1989)

University of California – Berkeley (Emeritus), Oakland, CA, USA
International Reading Association
Literacy Research Conference (National Reading Conference)
American Educational Research Association
National Conference on Language and Literacy, NCTE

Curriculum Vitae: 

Biographical Statement


About Robert B. Ruddell

Bob Ruddell was Professor Emeritus of the Language, Literacy, and Culture Faculty Group at the University of California at Berkeley. He began his teaching career as an educator at age 18. That year, both his parents suffered heart attacks, and he was forced to support himself by teaching in a one-room schoolhouse in a coal mining community in the Appalachian Mountains in his home state of West Virginia. Each month he would turn out school early one day and visit the students’ families. He visited the homes of each of the 32 students and was still in contact with six of these students. He taught credential and graduate courses in reading and language development and directed the Advanced Reading-Language Leadership Program at Berkeley. He served as Chair of the Language, Literacy, and Culture Faculty Group for a number of years.  During his tenure at the University of California, Berkeley, he worked closely with his 86 EdD. and PhD.doctoral students, advising and directing their research and dissertations to completion.

Professor Ruddell successfully mixed his work in public schools with his university teaching and research, and worked with teachers in schools both in the inner city and in rural areas. He lectured and conducted workshops for teachers in each of the 50 states, as well as in England, Sweden, Germany, Australia, Canada, and the Ivory Coast.

Bob was the recipient of the International Literacy Association’s William S. Gray Citation of Merit, recognizing lifetime achievement and leadership contributions to the field of reading and literacy development. He received the Oscar S. Causey Research Award from the National Reading Conference (Literacy Research Association) in recognizing his research on effective and influential literacy teachers. He received the Marcus Foster Memorial Reading Award from the California Reading Association for his teaching and research and was the recipient of the Indiana University Citation Award presented to former graduate students who have made Outstanding Contributions to Literacy. He was also the President of the Reading Hall of Fame and served on the IRA Board of Directors.

Professor Ruddell authored the widely used literacy methods text How to Teach Reading to Elementary and Middle School Students: Practical Ideas from Highly Effective Teachers. Along with valued coleagues he was senior editor of mutliple editions of Theoretical Models and Processes of Reading. His articles have appeared in The Reading Teacher and Language Arts as well as in a variety of research journals and yearbooks. His research and teaching interests focused on the study of comprehension and critical thinking, word identification strategies, reading motivation, and ways in which highly effective and influential teachers develop these skills with their students.

 More information about Bob can be found in History of Reading News (2011). My life in literacy. 24 (2), 1-4.



 Robert B. Ruddell, noted professor at University of California-Berkeley, was born in Ronceverte, West Virginia in 1937.  His early years were spent on a farm and he was active in 4H, raising purebred sheep. Robert also learned to play violin at age 10; over time he performed in many local churches.  His father, Byron Ruddell helped shape his childhood farming experiences which included wheat thrashing, corn cutting, sheep shearing and the care of cattle, horses and hogs.  Both, farm life and violin practice taught him the importance of hard work.

Robert’s mother Nell, was an educator, who taught him, and other local children, in a one room schoolhouse.  Robert was thankful to both his mother and father for showing him how to learn from failure, noting that perseverance was a virtue.  Robert finished high school at age 14, and became the youngest student ever to enroll at Morris Harvey College (now, Charleston University) at the age of 15.  He obtained his undergraduate and master's degree at West Virginia University, after which he, himself, taught in a one room schoolhouse in rural West Virginia.  Later, Robert received his PHD at Indiana University focusing on literacy education.  He began working for UC Berkeley at the age of 26, and remained working there for 35 years.  While at UC Berkeley, he reached the rank of full professor and was the Acting Dean of Education at Tolman Hall on more than one occasion. During his role as professor, he worked closely with his 86 EdD. and PhD. doctoral students, advising them and directing their research and dissertations to completion. One of his many research projects was the 27 U.S. Office of Education “Nationwide 1st-Grade Studies.” 

Based on his teaching and research experiences, Robert published numerous articles, chapters, and wrote 12 textbooks about literacy including the successful ‘Pathfinder’ series, guiding a generation of educators and emerging readers.  Most notable was his being the author of the widely used literacy text How to Teach Reading to Elementary and Middle School Students: Practical Ideas from Highly Effective Teachers. He worked closely with teachers in both urban and inner-city schools and conducted lectures and workshops in all 50 U.S. states, as well as England, Sweden, Germany, Australia, Canada and the Ivory Coast.  He also received many awards including the William S. Gray Citation of Merit and the Oscar S. Causey Research Award and Robert was inducted into the Reading Hall of Fame in 1989.

In addition to his extensive educational background, Robert was a man who enjoyed life, loved his family and took joy from those around him.  He never met a stranger and happily struck up lively conversations with just about anyone.  He loved playing golf, traveling, reading and theater.   Some of his favorite moments were the simple ones, such as sitting on his deck watching the sunset, talking about the importance of his family and telling stories about life on the farm.  

Robert B. Ruddell, age 83, passed away peacefully in his home on Sunday, March 14th.  Robert leaves behind his wife, Sandy, daughter, Amy Gault (Paul), son, Rob Ruddell (Diane) and his grandchildren Grace, Rebecca, and Madeline.  The funeral will be a private family gathering and a memorial service will be held later in the summer due to COVID, with a date to be announced.