Ruby Z. Shellaway, J.D.
Vice Chancellor, General Counsel and University Secretary
Ruza is an experienced attorney who has held significant roles in higher education, federal government, and the private sector. She is recognized as an outstanding leader with a deep belief in the transformative power of higher education, and she holds a clear vision of how to navigate the complex and ever changing legal landscape that higher education institutions face. She maintains a strong commitment to the mission of the university, working relentlessly to protect and advance that mission.
Before she joined Vanderbilt University in 2015, Ruza served as Deputy Managing Counsel for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, where she oversaw development and support for a team of 150 attorneys and counseled senior OGC officials on significant legal issues and communications to the Office of the Secretary. Prior to serving as the Deputy she was the first client-based attorney advisor to the Department’s Office for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties, advising on complex and novel civil rights and civil liberties issues. Prior to serving with the Department, Ruza was an associate attorney at Hogan Lovells (previously Hogan & Hartson) in the education practice group, which represented and advised public school districts and higher education institutions nationwide. In this role, she advised higher education clients on issues related to student financial aid, accreditation, academic freedom, conflicts of interest, campus safety, student privacy, and student discipline. Following her graduation from law school, she clerked for Judge James Robertson of the United States District Court for the District of Columbia, and for Judge Judith W. Rogers of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia.
As of February 2019, Ruza serves as Vanderbilt University’s Vice Chancellor, General Counsel, and University Secretary, leading the Office of the General Counsel, which includes the Office of Conflict of Interest and Commitment Management, and overseeing all of the university’s legal activities. Ruza works closely with the Office of the Chancellor, the chancellor’s leadership team, and the Board of Trust as she advises on key legal issues facing the Vanderbilt University community and higher education.
Ruza earned a bachelor of arts, summa cum laude, in economics and in law, jurisprudence and social thought from Amherst College, where she was inducted into the Phi Beta Kappa Society. She earned her Juris Doctor from Yale Law School, where she was a senior editor of the Yale Law Journal and executive editor of the Yale Law and Policy Review.
Ruza’s favorite spot on campus is the Kirkland Esplanade.