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Ruby Z. Shellaway, an experienced attorney who has held key roles in higher education, federal government and in the private sector, has been named vice chancellor, general counsel and university secretary at Vanderbilt University, Chancellor Nicholas S. Zeppos announced today. Shellaway had served as the university’s interim general counsel since July 31, 2018, and was selected for the permanent role following an extensive national search.
“Ruby is an outstanding attorney with a clear vision of how the general counsel strategically supports the university’s mission and values to ensure our long-term success. The legal landscape for higher education is complex and changing, and Ruby’s counsel has been essential to our ability to understand and successfully navigate these challenges,” Zeppos said. “I look forward to continuing to work with her to advance the university’s priorities.”
As vice chancellor, Shellaway leads the 15-member team of the Office of the General Counsel and the Office of Conflict of Interest and Commitment Management. While interim vice chancellor, Shellaway led transformation of the general counsel office to deliver increased responsiveness and efficiencies, which included hiring the office’s first legal operations chief to support and accelerate transformation.
“I am honored by this tremendous opportunity to continue to serve Vanderbilt University and to work with Chancellor Zeppos and his leadership team on key legal questions facing our university community and higher education today,” Shellaway said.
Shellaway joined Vanderbilt in August 2015 as deputy general counsel. In that role, she advised university leadership on all key legal issues, including litigation, transactions and regulatory compliance.
Prior to joining Vanderbilt, Shellaway served as an attorney from 2010 to 2015 for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, where she advised on significant legal issues and novel legal questions related to civil rights and civil liberties. She also advised the department on budget and hiring, strategic planning, and communications with senior department officials. She served as the deputy managing counsel from February 2015 until joining Vanderbilt. While in this role, she coordinated a $30 million budget for the 150-attorney office, prepared the annual budget proposal and advised department leadership on hiring, human resources, facilities and recruiting.
“I am honored by this tremendous opportunity to continue to serve Vanderbilt University and to work with Chancellor Zeppos and his leadership team on key legal questions facing our university community and higher education today.”
Shellaway was previously an associate in the education practice group at the law firm of Hogan & Hartson (now Hogan Lovells), where her practice focused on representing and advising public school districts and higher education institutions. Following 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.
Shellaway earned a bachelor of arts in both economics and law and jurisprudence and social thought, summa cum laude, from Amherst College in 2000, where she was a member of Phi Beta Kappa. She earned her law degree from Yale Law School in 2005, where she served as senior editor of the Yale Law Journal and executive editor of the Yale Law and Policy Review.
The national search committee was chaired by Brett Sweet, vice chancellor for finance and chief financial officer, and comprised G.L. Black, associate dean of students; Dr. Wonder Drake, associate professor of medicine; Victoria Greene, Stevenson Professor of Physics and chair of the Faculty Senate; Chris Guthrie, dean of Vanderbilt Law School and John Wade-Kent Syverud Professor of Law; and Susan R. Wente, provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs.
“I am grateful to this outstanding committee, which included our university’s senior leaders, for dedicating their time and talents to this essential search and congratulate them on this highly successful outcome,” Zeppos said.