Overlooking South Crouse Avenue on the Syracuse University campus, the text of the First Amendment is etched in the glassy skin of Newhouse 3. Six years after his 26-year tenure at the University, Dean Emeritus David Rubin takes pride in that building as a symbol of his legacy.
From 1990 to 2008, Rubin served as dean of the Newhouse School. After stepping down as dean, he continued to teach communications and arts journalism classes for another eight years. As dean, he credited a strong faculty and staff with transforming Newhouse technologically and bringing it into the modern age.
“Even though I’m hardly a techie, I had the right people on the faculty and staff,” Rubin says. “[Newhouse has] got a very strong faculty. I’m proud of how many good faculty members I hired, although a lot of them are now retiring. But they’ve been hiring good, young faculty.”
He continues his work with young professionals, even after officially retiring in 2016 and settling down just outside of Charleston, South Carolina. In between visiting his local YMCA, reading, writing and playing the piano, Rubin and his wife, Tina Press, are involved politically in Dorchester County. He encourages young politicians to learn how to run for office and teaches them about campaign intricacies such as confidence in public speaking.
“I’ve been helping them strategize: What are their strongest issues? How should they attack their opponents?” Rubin says. “And I’ve been writing information for them to use on their websites about their own positions and to attack these opponents.”
During the last 30 years, in the primarily Republican Charleston metropolitan area, Rubin has seen countless elections at various levels where the Democrats didn’t nominate a candidate. Rubin says he believes results like these are unhealthy for democracy and they are one of his main motivations for encouraging young politicians to involve themselves in the political scene.
In addition to helping shape the next generation of politicians, Rubin and Press have been hard at work during the past 18 months trying to elect young candidates to the State Assembly, the House and the County Council, which oversees local issues in Dorchester County.
One of Rubin’s main contributions is blogging for Dorchester County’s website, which is “getting pretty good circulation in South Carolina,” he says. Drawing on an essential Newhouse skill, Rubin mentions he’s published close to 100,000 words in the last two years.
“We [also] do more traditional things,” he says. “We go to fundraising events, we distribute political literature, [we] canvass door-to-door, my wife sends out postcards to voters and all that kind of stuff.”
His blog posts are informative and blunt; asking questions, championing his party and refusing to hold back regarding his feelings about certain politicians or his stance on issues.
Rubin recently backed four Dorchester area candidates running for Assembly District seats in the South Carolina House of Representatives, including 21-year-old Sydney Clinton, whom he describes as “the David who slays Goliath.”
Rubin is no stranger to politics. He was deeply involved in the Central New York political scene, especially in the WCNY-TV studios where he was the first moderator of “Ivory Tower,” the station’s weekly public affairs program that focused on current political and societal issues. He recently attended the show’s 20th anniversary celebration in September.
His political involvement, combined with his role within the Newhouse School, meant local fame. Eric Grode ’93, director of the Goldring arts journalism and communications program and a colleague of Rubin, recalls outings where Rubin was recognized.
“If we were at dinner in Armory Square, he couldn’t go five feet without someone grabbing his elbow and talking to him a bit,” Grode says. “He was a real fixture here in Central New York.”
As a tenacious, passionate fixture in a new city, Rubin is securing himself another legacy, much like the one left at Newhouse.
Max Gifford is a first-year student in the broadcast and digital journalism program at the Newhouse School.