Ruth Dunning came to Carleton College as secretary to President MacOdrum in June 1953 and remained for seventeen years.
After MacOdrum's death, Dunning moved to the Bursar's Office in addition to working occasionally in the Bookstore and Registrar's Office. She soon became assistant to the Bursar, becoming the first to hold an administrative position without a University degree. As assistant, Dunning attended Board of Governor's meetings and served on the Building Advisory Committee. She was also involved in the creation of the Staff Welfare Plan and the development of the Personnel Office.