Dr. Ruffin overcame many difficulties to achieve great accomplishments. Ruffin hails from Gilbertown, a sleepy south Alabama town near the Mississippi border. He is the oldest of four children born to Bishop Booker T. and the late Catherine Ruffin. He gave his life to the Lord at the age of seven and experienced the baptism of the Holy Spirit at 14 years of age.
Showing early promise in solving math problems throughout elementary school, his parents encouraged education in the household. He entered Southern Choctaw High School (SCHS) as a member of the first freshman class to integrate SCHS in 1969. College preparatory was subpar at SCHS, as General Math and Algebra I were the only advanced math courses offered. As a lad, he lobbied high school administrators to teach Geometry; they in turn contracted that if he would find ten willing students that were qualified, they would teach Geometry. He succeeded. Afterwards he tried the same for Trigonometry, but that attempt failed. He later self taught himself Trigonometry from a text book. Although young Ruffin scored an A+ on every Physics test, he was told by his high school Physics teacher that he could not make it in Physics, because the competition beyond Choctaw County would overwhelm him. Still, his interest of how the physical world around him worked continued to supply a driving inquisitiveness that enlarged continually after learning more.
In 1977, Ruffin received a Bachelor of Science Degree in Physics from Alabama Agricultural and Mechanical University. “The classes were small” Ruffin said and Dr. M.C. George, Chairman of the Physics Department, required everyone enrolled within the discipline to be able to solve every problem in their Freshman Physics text. This gave Ruffin good experience, despite being faced with earlier educational barriers.
The University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH) accepted Ruffin into their Master’s Degree program on a probationary basis, because he scored less than 1000 on the GRE. A Professor said to Ruffin, ‘I hope that you are good with your hands because you will never make it in Physics,’ after scoring a C in his first class while on academic probation. This did not deter Ruffin from his goal. He was given a reprieve and later went on to post scores beyond the programs best and brightest students, ultimately earning a Master of Science Degree at UAH (Graduated with High Honors), becoming the first African American to receive an advanced degree in Physics from any post secondary school in Alabama. In 1986, Ruffin became a Doctor of Philosophy in Physics when he earned his Ph.D. from UAH.
While delving into the mysteries that unlocked the interactions of time, space and matter, Ruffin simultaneously served as a deacon and chairman of the trustee board at Beirne Avenue COGIC in Huntsville, AL for twenty three years under the leadership of the late Superintendent Dave Draper, Sr.
While working for the U.S. Army Aviation and Missile Research Development and Engineering Center at Redstone Arsenal in Huntsville, Alabama, Ruffin was promoted to Senior Research Scientist (ST), the highest rank for a research scientist in the Army civilian workforce, becoming the first African American to ever attain such status in the Army. That same year in 2003, he became an ordained Elder at Draper Memorial COGIC (formerly Beirne Avenue COGIC and renamed in 1998). It now houses the Library dedicated in his honor and named the Dr. Paul Ruffin Library.
In 2005, he was appointed Pastor of Forge Temple COGIC in Birmingham Alabama. As a Pastor, he has been devoted to the total healing for the whole person: body, soul, and spirit. Ruffin believes in providing spiritual leadership and exercising his gift of teaching while expounding upon spiritual principals in the Bible. Several people have been filled with the Holy Ghost, lives have been turned around and former neighboring houses of ill repute have been demolished in preparation for a 21st Century Sanctuary.
President Barack Obama bestowed upon our own Dr. Paul Ruffin, “The Rank of Meritorious Senior Professional for sustained superior accomplishment in the conduct of programs of the United States Government and noteworthy achievement of quality and efficiency in public service 2010.” Ruffin and other meritorious award recipients from across the nation were honored at the 2010 Presidential Rank Award Ceremony, hosted by the Secretary of the Army, on June 29, 2011 at the Pentagon in Washington, D.C.
Dr. Ruffin joins one percent of the government’s unrivaled leaders, scientists, and other professionals that are proven innovators in public service. Of the U.S. Government’s 1.8 million civilian employees, only 6,800 have become career Senior Executives. Of that elite pool, fewer than 50 are selected to be Distinguished Executives annually. Army employees who receive the Presidential Rank Award save billions of dollars for our nation with efficiencies and advanced technologies.
Dr. Ruffin revealed a noninvasive technique for treating cancer patients. Ruffin’s research in Fiber Optics, Micro Electro-Mechanical Systems (MEMS), and Nanotechnology has resulted in seven patent awards. He is the co-editor of a textbook Fiber Optics Sensors: Second Edition. His latest patent is titled “Nano Smart Needle for Precision Sensing and Treatment that Promotes Healing in Living Tissue.” Through technology developed by Dr. Ruffin, the military has acquired capabilities of launching and controlling missiles with precise accuracy.
In 2009, Bishop O. L. Meadows, Prelate of Alabama First Ecclesiastical Jurisdiction, appointed Dr. Ruffin Jurisdictional Superintendent of the Sunday School Department. He administrates a well coordinated program, holds Workers Conferences as the A.I.M. (Auxiliaries in Ministry) Sunday School Department President and represents Bishop Meadows in Sunday School at the national level. He serves as the Director of “Science in the Bible” in the Sunday School University under International Sunday School President, Bishop Alton Gatlin.
Ruffin is married to National Gospel Recording Artist Vetrea Slack Ruffin. They have two daughters, Lacretia (Kellen) Conaway and Angelica Ruffin and two grandchildren, Jared and Victoria.
article appeared in COGIC’s Inspirations Today: COGIC Salutes (page 17)