James M. Rubillo

  • 2013 Lifetime Achievement Award Recipient

    James M. Rubillo

    Willow Grove, Pennsylvania

    Jim Rubillo has been an inspirational leader, communicator, and advocate for mathematics education for more than 45 years. He has made numerous contributions to the mathematics education community, with a special emphasis on technology and teaching mathematics at the community college and high school levels.

    Rubillo had a rich career in math education before leading the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM) as executive director from 2001 to 2009. He began his career as a mathematics teacher and department chair at Cheltenham Township Senior High School in Wyncote, Pennsylvania. For 30 years, he served Bucks County Community College in Newtown, Pennsylvania, in a variety of roles, including professor of mathematics, associate dean for information systems and services, executive assistant to the president for planning assessment and research, and chairperson of the Department of Mathematics and Computer Science. Rubillo is currently professor emeritus at the college.

    Rubillo is well known in the mathematics education community. He has conducted K-12 in-service programs for schools and school districts across the country on a variety of mathematics education topics. He is a frequent speaker at professional meetings and has made presentations in all 50 states. He has served on both the NCTM and NCSM boards of directors. His service to NCTM includes membership on four annual meeting and ten regional conference program committees. The diversity, scope, and reach of his service to the field of mathematics education are legendary.

    A leader in the revolutionary "problem solving as a basic skill" movement, Rubillo participated in developing NCTM's An Agenda for Action, released in 1980. This seminal publication, the first to focus on problem solving as a basic skill, changed the direction of mathematics education in the United States. 

    Rubillo's vision for improving instruction extended to the use of technology to reach more educators through such initiatives as Math in the Media, Math Matters, and NCTM's e-Workshops and e-Seminars. In addition, Rubillo connected NCTM with what has now become its Illuminations initiative-one of the Council's most valued projects.

    During his tenure at NCTM, Rubillo oversaw the development and publication of NCTM's Curriculum Focal Points for Prekindergarten through Grade 8: A Quest for Coherence. Always a leading force in increasing the Council's presence and influence as an advocacy organization for mathematics teaching and learning, Rubillo framed high-level policy discussions about the need for greater coherence in mathematics curriculum.

    One nominator noted that Rubillo's use of NCTM's "member first" principle was one of his greatest accomplishments: "He made every staff member aware that he or she could help meet the organization's goals … he articulated meaning in the work for everyone across the organization." Those supporting Rubillo's nomination remarked on his enthusiasm for teaching, service, and leadership-and his wonderful sense of humor. "Teachers learn from and love him. He runs a tight ship; however, we all want to be on the ship with him."

    Honors presented to Rubillo include the Hall of Fame Award from the Pennsylvania Council of Teachers of Mathematics, and the Ross Taylor/Glenn Gilbert National Leadership Award from the National Council of Supervisors of Mathematics. Rubillo was named a Distinguished Alumnus by West Chester University, and was awarded an honorary doctor of science degree by the university in 2004.