Russell K. Dean, who has served as second-in-command to the provost of West Virginia University since 1999, will retire early next year, ending a 37-year career in increasingly responsible roles at the University.
“What Russ has done for West Virginia University throughout his career has been to bring incalculable value to the very foundation of the institution: the education we provide, Provost Joyce McConnell said. “Russ is an educator first and foremost, such that every decision he makes, big or small, about finances or facilities, centers on how the outcome will help us help our students. We are all going to miss him tremendously and we are so grateful to him for all he has done.”
Dean came to WVU in 1979 as an assistant professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering. He joined the Office of the Provost in 1989 as assistant vice president for curriculum and instruction. In his current role as vice provost, he has provided university-wide leadership on WVU’s strategic initiatives, enrollment management and information technology.
As chair of the Enrollment Management Council, which he convened in 1999, Dean developed a strategic plan for enrollment management, marketing and recruitment of high-quality students, which resulted in WVU growing to nearly 30,000 students on the Morgantown campus. Moreover, the average ACT score for incoming freshman has risen dramatically and is now significantly higher than the national average.
“Since my return to West Virginia University, I have stressed the need to increase enrollment, elevate the student experience and improve retention,” President Gordon Gee said. “Many of those goals are now coming to fruition, and that is in large part thanks to Russ and his leadership. He has served this University with wisdom, grace and humor. I will continue to appreciate his strategic thinking, but most importantly, I will always value his friendship.”
West Virginia University has changed a great deal since he first arrived on campus, Dean said.
Among other things, “The Evansdale campus is now developing into a comprehensive, walkable campus that has all the amenities and ambiance associated with a modern residential campus,” Dean said. “Forty years ago, it was more like a series of buildings and parking lots with no sense of community.”
If the landscape of the WVU campus has changed, it is in large part due to Dean’s vision and his execution of that vision. His leadership in the development of WVU’s last two comprehensive master plans resulted in $593.5 million of capital improvements.
These include new construction (Agricultural Sciences Building, Life Sciences Building, Advanced Engineering Research Building, Health and Education Building, Art Museum of WVU, Evansdale Greenhouse and Evansdale Crossing renovation and additions (WVU Libraries, White Hall, Brooks Hall, Oglebay Hall, Colson Hall, and College of Law); and numerous classroom modernizations, infrastructure improvements and repairs across campus.
“I’ve had the opportunity to work with exceptional people and see exciting projects come to fruition,” Dean said. “To walk into a building I helped fund and see classrooms full – that’s pretty rewarding. I am grateful to everyone who has worked with me over the years to make WVU the institution it is today, and I’m looking forward to seeing where we go in the years to come.”
After his retirement on Jan. 3, Dean will move to Alabama with his wife, Roberta, former director of Institutional Research at WVU, to be closer to their daughter Andrea, their son-in-law George Crowley and their two grandchildren, Georgie and Emily. Dean will continue to work with the Office of the Provost as a consultant on special projects.
John Campbell, who has been the university’s associate provost for information technology and chief information officer since January 2013, will step into a newly-configured role as vice provost upon Dean’s retirement.
“We have ambitious goals, and we need the right people positioned to attain those goals,” Gee said. “As John assumes the role of vice provost, I am absolutely certain we will achieve those goals – and more. John has great vision, is committed to student success and understands the need for partnership and collaboration. I have the utmost confidence John will be a dynamic leader in this position.”
McConnell, to whom Campbell will report directly, described him as “so thoughtful, but also so productive. John was in his role as CIO for more than a year before I became provost,” she said. “In many ways, he has had to show me the ropes, walking me through the complexities of our information technology systems and processes. He always has the same end in mind, though, which is the success of our students. I am looking forward to continuing to work with him.”
In his role at CIO and head of the university Information Technology Services, Campbell has focused on making IT solutions part of institutional decision-making processes, from facilities planning, enrollment management and scholarship management to human resources. He has improved communications and outreach efforts in IT and integrated seven central IT units to provide a unified structure for responding to institutional technology needs.
Campbell has also implemented a number of major initiatives that directly support the university’s top priorities of student success and enrollment expansion. In 2015, he secured a $224,914 grant from EDUCAUSE/Gates Foundation to support student success efforts, then put those funds to use spearheading the university’s adoption of the Student Success Collaborative software and the related Guide app. He assisted in planning and implementation for the WVU Beckley campus, created a faculty community cluster program to support computational research and developed the necessary infrastructure to support the new masters degree in Business Data Analytics.
An expert in learning design and technology, Campbell is tenured in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction/Literacy Studies in the WVU College of Education and Human Services. His most recent research has focused on developing analytical approaches to identifying students at risk and improving their success. He was the founder of the Signals project, which has been featured on NBC and in the Chronicle of Higher Education. He also has a patent on his analytical approaches to identifying students at risk.
“I am excited to take on a new role at WVU,” Campbell said, “especially since it will allow me to work even more directly and broadly to ensure student success. I have been fortunate to have worked closely with Russ Dean ever since my arrival on campus, so while I don’t expect to ‘fill his shoes’ right away, I do feel that I’ve been mentored by the best. We have big challenges ahead, but I look forward to being part of the academic leadership team that will to find innovative solutions to each of them.”
McConnell said that the Office of the Provost will conduct a national search in early 2017 for a new associate provost for information technology and chief information officer.
CONTACT: Ann Claycomb, AVP Strategic & Academic Communications
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