After serving as interim leader of Columbia College since early January, David Russell has been named the school’s 18th president, according to a news release Monday.

Russell, a former state higher education commissioner, succeeds Scott Dalrymple, who stepped down in late 2020. The change will take effect Friday, and Russell’s contract goes through 2025, according to the college news release.

“Columbia College is truly a special place, and it is an honor to continue working with great faculty and staff to support CC students around the country,” he said in the release.

Russell has been in higher education for over 30 years, including serving as chief of staff for nine presidents at the University of Missouri System. Recently, he served a four-year term as chair of the Columbia College Board of Trustees. The board unanimously approved his appointment Friday.

“His extensive experience in higher education, the military, steady and decisive leadership style and strong relationships in the Columbia community will be key for the institution’s future success,” the Rev. Brad Stagg, current board chair, said in the release.

“His passion for education and commitment to our students are just a few of the many reasons he is the ideal choice to lead” the school, Joyce Gentry, professor of nursing and president of the Columbia College Faculty Association, said in the release.

This year, Russell formed a strategic planning committee made up of college community members, alumni and trustees to plan the five-year future of the college. During a State of the College address last week, he said the school will hire its first director of diversity, equity and inclusion this year.

*Based in Columbia, the college has 37 locations in 14 states. Columbia College Global will open a location at Ellsworth Air Force base in South Dakota and a location at Whiteman Air Force Base in Knob Noster, Missouri, later this year.

  • Assistant city editor, spring 2021. Studying print and digital news journalism. Reach me at, or in the newsroom at 882-5720.

  • Elizabeth Brixey is the Columbia Missourian's education editor and an associate professor in the Missouri School of Journalism. She can be reached at (573) 882-2632 and

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