Ruth Elizabeth Warfel served as the Dean of Students for Mount Holyoke College from 1964 to 1982. Ruth's career in higher education began with her master's studies in college personnel administration at Indiana University and further advanced studies at Teacher's College, Columbia University. Prior to her appointment at Mount Holyoke, Ruth served as Associate Dean of Students for 13 years at the State University College in Potsdam, New York and Dean of Women for 3 years at Miami University in Ohio. On campus, Ruth remained deeply committed to student welfare issues through her service on the committee on financial aid to students, foreign students, graduate work, the multi-racial community, student affairs, and the advisory committee on affirmative action. Ruth was described by colleagues as a great example of "leadership, optimism, civility, professional agility, and good cheer".
Ruth's interests included opera, arts and crafts. Upon her retirement a Student Art Purchase Fund was established, enabling the Office of the Dean of Students to continue Ruth's practice of purchasing a piece of student art annually to place in residence halls. Today, Ruth's legacy of giving is kept alive through the Ruth E. Warfel Art Prize, which carries a value of up to $500 yearly. A committee meets each year to review and select senior artwork for the award, based on the quality of the art and its appropriateness for a residence hall setting.