Although he graduated from Baruch more than 65 years ago, Herbert Rubin (’56) still carries with him the qualities he honed during his college days: hard work, grit, and determination. Now 89 years old, Rubin has a wealth of stories and experiences to reflect on—and invaluable lessons to share with the next generation of Baruch students.
“My family wasn’t of high means,” says Rubin with a laugh, noting that he could not afford to attend Baruch full time back in 1949. So he enlisted in the coast guard and, thanks in part to the GI Bill, was able to afford to simultaneously take night classes and graduate from Baruch within seven years, becoming the first in his family to graduate college. Through it all, he supported his family financially and still found time for extracurriculars, joining a House Plan and becoming a member of the National Accounting Society. He says that while he met some truly exceptional professors and classmates, one college memory stands out most of all: “I met my wife there.” He and Annette would be married for 26 years, having two children, Lisa and Mark, before Annette tragically died at 42 of cancer. He would later marry his second wife, Florence, with whom he has been married for more than 40 years.
Professionally, Rubin notes that Baruch prepared him well – “I was ready for anything,” he says – allowing him to easily pass the CPA exam and excel in his first job out of college at an Italian-American accounting firm. He quickly received promotions and job offers from other accounting firms before ultimately founding his own, Herbert Rubin, CPA PC in 1975.
Rubin successfully led his company for more than 20 years. He notes that the lessons he learned at Baruch helped him beyond simply accounting, enabling him to “fully analyze the several different parts of the relationship between employees and employers, workers and workees.” He serviced a diverse range of clients in different fields—particularly the medical and radiology industries—and befriended international clients from countries like India, Korea, and China, attending their weddings, anniversaries, and parties. “I developed relationships with all of these wonderful people,” he said.
Along the way, his firm became a family affair. His son, Mark, began helping his father when he was only 10 years old—his father would bring home boxes full of checks for him to put in sequential order (Mark would later pass the CPA and work full-time for his father). Herbert also met his second wife, Florence, when she worked as one of his executive assistants.
His colleagues recall him being an exceptional manager and great people person.
“He was a wonderful, nice guy, devoted to his family,” said Tom Varvaro, a member of his staff who would later become partner in the ’90s. “I was probably in my 30s when I joined him, and I mostly had experience at larger organizations. So he took me under his wing and showed me how to be a really successful CPA and how to interact with clients.”
Rubin retired in 1997 and would later move to Florida, eventually becoming very active in Baruch’s Florida alumni chapter, attending events and connecting with other graduates. His goal now is to support future Baruch students: he and his family recently established the Herbert C. Rubin Scholarship Fund, fully endowed in perpetuity to provide financial assistance to promising accounting students and community leaders that face the same challenges as Rubin did.
“Baruch is part of Dad’s DNA,” said his son, Mark. “He chose Baruch because he believed it was the best NYC school for him and credits his college experience—both at the time, as well as later through many years of participation in the South Florida alumni chapter—as providing a warm, accepting community of international friends, with diversity and lifelong relationships and learning opportunities.”
Rubin’s incredible career and life story will forever be a part of Baruch history, and he is eager not only to support the next generation with resources, but with advice.
“Nothing has really changed,” he says with a laugh, noting that students today still face the same adversities, financial and otherwise, that he and his classmates faced many decades ago. “What’s most important, and what is constant, is the amount of desire a person has… It’s all about the effort you put in to succeed.”
Thanks to Rubin’s everlasting support, students with precisely that effort and desire will realize their dream of a Baruch education—and write their own success stories just like Rubin’s.
– Gregory M. Leporati