December 2, 2010

Columbia - The Coordinating Board for Higher Education today named David Russell commissioner of higher education, removing the "interim" from the title he assumed July 1 after the retirement of former commissioner Robert B. Stein.

CBHE Chair Lowell Kruse said naming Russell commissioner reflects the board's confidence in him as leader of the Missouri Department of Higher Education. Russell agreed to a five-year commitment as commissioner.

"The board is extremely gratified to have someone of David Russell's credentials and abilities," Kruse said. "He hit the ground running from day one as interim commissioner, visiting 17 campuses around the state, meeting with government and college leaders, and becoming familiar with the whole range of issues facing higher education. The Coordinating Board has utmost confidence in his judgment and looks forward to his long-term leadership as commissioner."

Commissioner Russell said his five months as interim commissioner prepared him for the task at hand. "It is a very demanding job, but also a rewarding one," Russell said. "Higher education is the foundation for a prosperous state and enlightened society. Current budget restrictions have forced us to make changes that will ultimately strengthen Missouri's system of higher education. When funds become available, we are poised for progress toward more robust, diverse and adaptable higher education opportunities."

Russell, of Columbia, worked in the University of Missouri System for 19 years, most recently as senior associate vice president and chief of staff, where he served as liaison between the university and the Coordinating Board for Higher Education and its administrative arm, the Missouri Department of Higher Education.

Prior to his work at the university, Russell served in the United States Army as a commissioned officer, retiring in 1991 as a lieutenant colonel after a 22-year career, including assignments in media relations at the Pentagon and as director of public affairs at Ft. Leonard Wood, Missouri.

He holds a BS degree in education from Henderson State University, an MA in communications from The American University and a doctoral degree in educational leadership and policy analysis from the University of Missouri-Columbia. His dissertation examined public and political support for higher education reform.