Arts Advocates: The Ruszats

Cheryll and Richard Ruszat / Photo: Jeanine Hill


Q&A with the Ruszats

Cheryll and Richard Ruszat are longtime UCI supporters and leaders. They are trustees of the UCI Foundation, co-presidents of the Chancellor’s Club, and support numerous causes across campus, from education to health sciences. In their latest volunteer role, they are stepping up to serve as co-chairs of the newly formed Claire Trevor Society, which offers various membership levels that support scholarships, fellowships, research and more. We recently caught up with the Ruszats to learn more about their passion for the arts and involvement with the school.

Q. How did you become involved with CTSA?

RR & CR: We have always been interested in the arts, but it was actually a memorable Chancellor’s Club event at the New Swan Shakespeare Festival that got us directly involved with the school. Eli Simon, the founding artistic director, later gave us the opportunity to develop a leadership committee to support outreach and funding for the New Swan Theater.

Q.  Over the years, in what ways have you supported the school?

RR & CR: We met Dean Stephen Barker while chairing the New Swan leadership committee. His positive energy and vision for CTSA motivated us to join his advisory board. There, one of our first projects was to help generate community support to purchase a Steinway concert grand piano for the school, which we accomplished in less than four months.  

Q. As co-chairs of the newly formed Claire Trevor Society, what do you hope to achieve?

RR & CR: The title of this publication really says it all! We hope to “connect” this wonderful school with the people of Orange County and beyond. There are many things to discover and enjoy at CTSA besides the sheer enjoyment of music, drama, art, and dance. You get to experience the “behind the scenes” development of natural talent into society’s future generation of artists.

Q. What has been the most impactful experience you’ve had at CTSA? 

RR & CR: Everything we experience at CTSA has been wonderful, and each experience increases our appreciation for the scholarly work done in the arts. One experience is actually personal: At one time we engaged a professor for a coaching session for our granddaughter’s vocal performance in high school. We were astonished at the transformation in just one short lesson. Imagine the impact over the course of an undergraduate program. It is unfathomable how many artists will be able to share their talents with society just because of their experience at CTSA. That session was as impactful for us as for our granddaughter.

Q. Developing the next generation of creative leaders is at the core of CTSA’s mission.  Why is it important to you?

RR & CR: The arts have a unique ability to touch people in a personal and inspirational way. Art is not only a record of our history but also a reflection of our current culture. It encourages one to think outside of their daily rituals and helps define one’s own sense of self.

Q. Why do you feel it’s important for others to support CTSA and the arts?

RR & CR: When one realizes the importance of art in society, it is difficult not to support it!  What most people do not realize is that the State of California does not provide most of the financial support to keep the university operating. Much of the support comes from the private sector. An individual’s support through the Claire Trevor Society makes a notable difference in the quality and operation of the school, and benefits students.

To learn more about the Claire Trevor Society, contact Sarah Strozza at 949-824-0629 or

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CONNECT - Spring 2020