COLUMBIA — David Russell, University of Missouri System vice president, said he is excited to contribute to higher education in the state of Missouri.
Russell has been appointed the state’s interim commissioner of higher education. He will begin his duties July 1, replacing retiring Commissioner Robert Stein.
“David understands the complex nature of higher education,” board chairman Lowell Kruse said in a news release from the Missouri Department of Higher Education.
For Russell, the appointment was a pleasant surprise. He said he’s been interested in higher education governance since he joined the UM System 19 years ago.
“It’s kind of fun to get hired to do something that you enjoy doing and that you have been doing for such a long time,” he said.
Russell said he is familiar with the university presidents both at two-year and four-year institutions and the people in the state government who work with issues regarding higher education.
“I feel very confident that I can help to build a network of people who can make things happen for higher education,” Russell said.
As senior associate vice president and chief of staff for the system, Russell has served as both an associate director and a director of university relations, according to the release.
In 2001-02, he organized the first statewide meetings of university and community college trustees to address state support for higher education. He also helped establish The Missouri 100, composed of people who support higher education.
During his appointment, Russell wants to start working on four major goals:
- Developing a clear, easily understood agenda for higher education.
- Helping to forge a strong team of two-year and four-year institutions, both public and private.
- Improving access and affordability to higher education for more Missourians.
- Figuring out how to balance between income and expenses.
In order to improve access and affordability, Russell encourages two-year and four-year institutions to keep collaborating to provide students with opportunities that will help them prepare for future jobs.
Upon his appointment, Russell said he is going to take a leave of absence from the university to work full time as an interim commissioner. The interim role could be as short as six months, but it could be longer.