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Part One Passion for Dance

Graduating from the University of Nebraska at Lincoln (UNL) in 1931 with a bachelor’s degree in physical education, Ruth held an interest in all sports, but she was particularly passionate about dance (Wittman 9). It was this passion for dance that carried her to the University of Nebraska at Omaha (UNO), formerly Omaha University, in the capacity of innovator, dance instructor, and head of the Women’s Physical Education Program. William E. Sealock, President of Omaha University from 1931 –1935, hired Ruth in the fall of 1931 (Thompson 56). In the years that followed, Ruth became one of the most important figures in Omaha’s art culture, impacting not only a town and a school, but also dance education in the Midwest.

 

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Part Two Ruth's Arrival at UNO

In 1932, Omaha citizens voted for Omaha University to become a municipal university, funded by local tax revenues (Pollak and Valentine 31). This transition to a publicly funded institution proved to be a massive undertaking; the University was required to undergo “reorganization, the infusion of faculty with terminal academic degrees, the attrition of less-qualified faculty, the dedication to improve library facilities, the application for federal assistance, and the search for a new location…” (31). Ruth came to UNO as part of this immense transition, replacing her poorly-qualified predecessor who lacked the necessary academic credentials in dance or physical education that were required for the transition from Omaha University to a publicly funded municipal university (Wittman 16).