t hasn’t always been a slam dunk for Ray Rankis.
For more than 30 years, Rankis—best known to legions of Baruchians as the coach of men’s basketball—has been a jock of all trades, the go-to guy in the College’s Athletics Department. In addition to coaching men’s basketball, women’s tennis, and women’s cross country (a team he created), he’s served as facilities manager, recreation and intramurals director, sports information director, assistant athletics director, associate athletics director, and, most recently, director of athletics. He’s also been an integral member of Baruch’s Division of Continuing and Professional Studies (CAPS), where until his retirement this year he oversaw upward of 20 classes per semester and grew the CAPS roster with such popular classes as Fitness for Older Adults and Women’s Bodybuilding & Conditioning.
No doubt, Rankis has been a key player in the steady transformation of Athletics at Baruch. Not only has he seen the department grow from a three-man operation in the early 1980s to today’s seven-person team, he’s witnessed a metamorphosis of the College’s sports and recreation facilities that has been nothing short of miraculous. For decades, Athletics struggled with inadequate facilities, including an undersized 78′-by-46′ basketball court on the sixth floor of Baruch’s historic 17 Lexington Avenue building.
But since Fall 2001, with the opening of Baruch’s almost-city-block-long William and Anita Newman Vertical Campus (NVC) on 24th Street, Athletics has had a spacious, three-floor, state-of-the-art home: the Athletic & Recreation Complex (aka the ARC). The move is one of the highlights of Ray’s professional life. “Thanks to the ARC, the teams have won many championships,” he says.
Rankis has been on the front line of many of those championships. But more important to him than winning has been the chance to be a positive influence, a friend, and a father figure to hundreds of student-athletes since he started at Baruch in 1983. “I have known Ray for many years,” says his colleague Ron Aaron, a professor of student development and counseling and a devoted Baruch Bearcats fan. “Ray should never be thought of in terms of wins or losses. He’s the guy who is always there for others, listening, counseling, and supporting. His players love him, and his colleagues feel no differently.”