June 10, 2010
Contact: Kathy Love — 573.522.1463
David R. Russell Named Interim Commissioner of Higher Education
St. Louis — The Coordinating Board for Higher Education today announced the selection of David R. Russell as interim commissioner of higher education for Missouri to replace retiring Commissioner Robert B. Stein.
Coordinating Board Chair Lowell Kruse described Russell as a consensus-builder and diplomat who will work across all sectors of higher education while aligning with the systems of pre-school, K-12 and higher education.
"David understands the complex nature of higher education," Kruse says. "He also sees ways to improve the continuum of preparation so every student, from pre-schoolers through adults, has the education needed to succeed in today's challenging economy."
Search Committee Chair Craig Van Matre said that an interim commissioner is needed while state government explores options relating to changes in governance and efficiencies to be gained in higher education.
Russell, of Columbia, Mo., currently serves as senior associate vice president and chief of staff for the University of Missouri System, where he acts as liaison between the university and the Coordinating Board for Higher Education and its administrative arm, the Missouri Department of Higher Education.
He has worked in the University of Missouri System for 19 years, first as associate director of university relations, assuming ever greater responsibility for communications, strategic planning and public policy positions. He served as director of university relations and chief of staff before assuming his current position, where he works with the president and all four university campuses to integrate finance and administration, human resources, general counsel, government relations, information technology, communications and academic and student affairs.
In 2001-2002, he organized the first-ever statewide meetings of university and community college trustees to address state support for higher education. Russell also was instrumental in establishing The Missouri 100, which is composed of prominent Missourians who share the common conviction that higher education is the key to future prosperity and quality of life for Missouri's people.
Russell obtained a doctoral degree in educational leadership and policy analysis, writing a dissertation on public and political support for higher education reform. He says becoming interim commissioner of higher education will allow him to apply his academic research and training to implementation of a public agenda for higher education.
"Missouri's system of higher education depends on cooperation and collaboration by networking among sectors and bringing them together on diverse, sometimes competitive issues," Russell says. "Even when resources are scarce, there are steps we can take to improve access and affordability to higher education for more Missourians. It will be more important than ever to work together to strengthen the entire system of higher education. That will be my challenge and goal as interim commissioner."
"David Russell is uniquely qualified to lead the state's higher education efforts," says Missouri Governor Jay Nixon. "His initiative, drive and experience provide a solid foundation on which to build higher education policies to move Missouri forward."
Vice Chair of the Coordinating Board for Higher Education Mary Beth Luna Wolf said the board was gratified to have a candidate of Russell's caliber apply for the position of interim commissioner. "David impressed us with his broad knowledge of the state's higher education policies. He has the visions and ideas we need to provide high quality postsecondary education to Missourians."
Russell will begin duties as interim commissioner of higher education July 1.
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