August 20, 2003
This week during registration at Union College, students in line to talk with the academic dean were greeted by a new face. Dr. Malcolm Russell, Union’s new vice president for academic administration, joined the campus this summer to fill the vacancy created by Dr. Lowell Hagele’s return to the classroom after six years in the position. Russell comes to Union College from Andrews University in Berrien Springs, Mich., where he served as director of the university’s honors program and professor of history and economics.
“I thought I already had an exciting position,” said Dr. Malcolm Russell. “I hadn’t planned to move anywhere.”
So when invited to interview at Union, Russell wasn’t looking to leave Andrews, where he had taught since 1977. His wife, Sharon, was also happy in her long-term high school teaching role at Andrews Academy.
A crucial impact on the Russells’ decision to move to Nebraska was the assurance that they would be welcomed by a very friendly and caring community. Malcolm and Sharon give the campus family an “A+” for following through on a warm welcome. “There were a number of things about Union that drew us here, but Union’s friendliness is a unique phenomenon among college campuses,” Russell said.
Congeniality and the tremendous dedication of the faculty at Union are strengths Russell hopes to build on. Because of his collaboration with the Upper Midwest Honors Society, Russell has had contact with students and faculty from the Midwest and was impressed with their warmth and genuine amiability. “I’ve learned that people from this region are generally the kind of people I like to be with,” Russell said.
When looking to the future, Russell hopes to pay special attention to building Union’s academic reputation through adding new programs and perhaps revising older ones. “The world is moving very fast, and I would like to ensure that Union is ahead of the wave rather than behind it,” Russell said.
One specific thing Russell would like to see happen would be the linking of Union College faculty and students with international connections including collaboration with other schools and short-term classes taught abroad.
As the son of missionary parents, Russell was born in Beirut and lived there and in Egypt during his childhood, then studied in India, Great Britain and the United States. Russell received a Fulbright Dissertation Scholarship in 1973, and in 1977 he earned a Ph.D. from the School of Advanced International Studies, Johns Hopkins University. Russell is the author of two books on the Middle East and has also researched topics in business history and Middle East studies.
In addition to academic publications on the region, Russell has applied his perspective of the area to assist with humanitarian projects. In the late 1990s he evaluated the effectiveness of a renovated water cistern system created in Jordan by the Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA). Through interviews and onsite observation, he helped evaluate the feasibility of future plans for supplementing the national water system.
After 26 years at Andrews University, Russell’s professional recognition includes being named Teacher of the Year, Distinguished Junior Faculty Member and a Danforth Associate. He also received a Zapara Award, Academic Advisor Award, and the John Nevins Andrews Medallion.
His wife, Sharon Russell, has shifted from 32 years of high school teaching to a leadership role with Union’s upcoming Ortner Center scheduled to open in November. As conference and guest services director she will manage the information center and coordinate guest room and convention facility reservations.
The Russells have two sons, Michael, 18; and Eric, 15. The family enjoys traveling, hiking and bicycling. Russell says he likes to snorkel and dive, but admits he has more interests than he has time to pursue. Since much of the family’s vacationing has been spent overseas, they look forward to windsurfing in Nebraska lakes and hiking in the Rockies.
Notes: Photo available. Malcolm Russell is available for interviews or speaking engagements. Contact Jacque Smith, Union College director of public relations, for more information.