He was the second President of the University of Texas at Dallas (from 1982 until 1994). He has been noted for his geological research on Antarctica. Rutford served as Director of the Division of Polar Programs of the National Science Foundation from 1975 to 1977.
The 14,688 foot/447 meter-high Mountain.
Rutford, which is the summit of Craddock Massif in the Sentinel Range of the Ellsworth Mountains in the Antarctic, was named for him in 2007. The 130 mile-long Rutford Ice Stream, a "mile-thick, fast flowing stream" which drains part of the West Antarctic ice sheet into the sea, had previously been named for him.