Professor J B Ruane succeeded Professor James Drew to the most senior position in the Faculty of Agriculture in 1958. He became recognised as a progressive academic leader within the newly re-structured Faculty of Agriculture in University College Dublin during his tenure as Professor, Department Head and Director of the College farms. He was native of Monivea, near Athenry, Co Galway where he grew up on a small farm. After completing his secondary education at the Patrician Brothers in Galway, he entered UCG to study agricultural science and after two years transferred to UCD and graduated with a BAgrSc, with honours, in 1939. On graduation he worked as a rural science teacher in Co Roscommon before becoming a Rural Science Principal of the newly opened technical school in Cooley, Co Louth, in 1940. He completed his MAgrSc degree in 1943 and his PhD in 1946 at the National University of Ireland. He was employed as an Agricultural Advisor in Co Kildare (1946-48), as a potato inspector in Co Donegal (1948-50), Superintendent of Mellows College, Athenry (1950-54) and Inspector in the Livestock Division (1954-1957) principally in Animal Breeding.
During his tenure as Professor of Farm Management, the University farm at Lyons Estate was acquired in 1962 and was developed under his leadership. His Department expanded with new US trained Irish academics in the 1960’s and during those years, the Faculty introduced two new degree options into his Department – (B.Agr.Sc. degrees in Animal Production, and Production and Distribution (later named Agricultural Economics).
In conjunction with Department of Agriculture, the Kellogg Foundation, the University of Wisconsin and UCD, the first Taught Masters in the Faculty was launched in Agricultural Extension in 1968, in Professor Ruane’s Department with professionals employed in the national agricultural advisory service.
JB Ruane was a founder member and Secretary of the Irish Farm Buildings Association from 1958 to 1975, a former Member of the Council of An Foras Taluntais, President of the Irish Grassland Association (1959-60) and latterly he was appointed by the Government to Chairmanship of the Irish Wool Council, and to the Higher Education Authority in 1975, by the Minister of Education. He became seriously ill during 1975 and retired early on health grounds in 1976. Professor JB Ruane died in September 1976.