Joseph J. Russell


School of Education Distinguished Alumni Award (2009)
Distinguished Alumni Service Award (2008)
School of Dentistry
M.S., 1968; Ed.D., 1971


With a name synonymous with diversity, human rights and social justice, Joseph J. Russell has provided outstanding leadership throughout his career to stimulate people to expand their vision and work toward a common goal.

After earning his master's degree in 1968 and his doctorate in 1971 from the School of Education, he served as chairman of IU's Department of Afro-American Affairs. He helped to develop the fledgling department into a nationally recognized unit and to gain respect for a field of study previously considered outside the scholarly mainstream.

As dean of Afro-American Affairs, he created a productive campus environment for African-American faculty. In both roles, he fostered a "giving back to the community" mentality, which he embodied by chairing the city's then-new human rights commission, serving as a deacon in his church and spearheading the expansion of the B.G. Pollard Elks Lodge.

He worked behind the scenes to create at IU the African-American Studies Program, Minority Achievers Program, the Strategic Hiring Program and the African American Arts Institute -- programs duplicated at universities around the country. One of the founding members of the National Council for Black Studies, he served as its first executive director for 16 years. A consultant to minority business start-ups and educational organizations, he is known as a leader, mediator and mentor.