Ruth Abelmann

Ruth Abelmann
Director-Residential Life
Phone: (603) 862-2268
Office: Residential Life, Hitchcock Hall Rm 13A, Durham, NH 03824

About Me


I am originally from Massachusetts, and I feel so lucky to have landed at UNH just more than an hour from where I grew up. I am so grateful to live in this beautiful patch of New England near the ocean, near the mountains--a place that is less crowded than the suburbs of Boston, but is close if I want to visit.

I did my undergraduate work at St. Lawrence University and went to graduate school at the University of Vermont. I was lucky enough to come here after graduate school. I have been able to stay at the same place while taking on different responsibilities in my work, and at the same time connecting to a community beyond my work that I enjoy.

What else can I tell you about me? 
I have two kids Graham and Molly. They are now in their late 20’s. It’s fun to be working with college students and Hall Directors and having kids in that same phase of life as many of the RHDs.  Graham is a nurse and Molly is a teacher in Hawaii!!!  We are empty-nesters, yet life feels very full with work, outside interests, family, and fun.  I use pronouns She/Her/Hers and my partner is Michael (a very gentle soul). He is a photographer specializing in portraits and architectural photography. Myla is our adorable black lab and any dog-loving RHDs are welcome to visit and take Myla for a walk in the woods or to the beach if they need some dog time.

While I have been at this work for a long time, I feel more energized to learn new things and do good things in my job every year. I love college students, and I also love connecting with young professionals - yes RHDs.  This is such an important time in people’s lives. I am grateful to be a part of the journey our students and staff are embarking on.

A few thoughts and beliefs I have about the work we do:

  • RHDs can have a huge impact on the lives of students in their hall, this is not to be underestimated. 
  • Being curious and open about ourselves and students is essential to our success in student affairs
  • We can’t always believe what we think, sometimes our thoughts guide us well and sometimes they misguide us. The trick is to listen to the beliefs that serve us well and chuck the ones that don’t.
  • Asking good churning questions that prompt reflection is a skill we need to develop in order to be effective in our work.
  • We need to be serious about our work, but not take ourselves too seriously. Having fun at work is a huge value of mine.
  • An overall positive and optimistic attitude goes a long way, and a negative attitude diminishes your experience and the experience of others as well.
  • The RHD/Core team at UNH is a family. We don’t always need to agree, in fact, it is good and vital that we engage in discourse. But in the end, we need to have each other’s back and have a generous spirit toward each other

I am an RYT 500hr certified yoga instructor and teach two classes a week in the community.  I have learned when you teach yoga you have to practice yoga. Lots of RAs ask me to come do yoga with students in their hall. I am always happy to introduce students/staff to Yoga and the practice/benefits of mindfulness. I like connecting the principles of mindfulness to our work. I have received my certification as a Koru Mindfulness teacher. Koru is a curriculum for teaching Mindfulness to emerging adults.  I enjoy sharing this curriculum with students and our staff.

I love Ted Talks and good articles. I am very easily inspired. Hiking, biking, running, taking nice walks in the seacoast, cross country skiing, gardening and being outside makes me happy. I call my 93-year-old Mom every night. She is lonely and my daily call lifts her spirits.

I don't watch TV, so when it comes to conversations about shows I am useless. I am open to any suggestions about a good movie to watch, or a good book to read. Thanks to a past RHD I am fan of the Banff Film Festival and go every year to their show in Portsmouth.  I think film festivals, in general, are really cool. I love good vegetarian/vegan cooking, games and a good conversation. I try to be sure to make room for these at work and outside of work. If my door is open – come on in.