The University Record, May 21, 2001

Obituary

Robert E. Russell

Robert E. Russell passed away April 21 after a short illness. Loving husband of Cinda Sue Davis and father of Brian and Lauren, he was born Feb. 10, 1948, in Seattle, Wash.

Russell received his bachelor’s degree from the University of Washington in 1970, and he received his MBA from the U-M in 1971. He received a Ph.D. from the U-M Center for the Study of Higher and Post Secondary Education in 1981.

Russell came to work at the University in 1975 in the Purchasing Department and was asked to help design and implement a state-of-the-art mainframe-based purchasing and accounts payable system. Russell was promoted to assistant director of Purchasing, Stores and Auxiliary Services in 1978. While at Stores, he teamed up with the Department of Information Technology to host the Computer Kickoff Sale, an annual event that turned out to be the largest public-sector sale of its kind, with more than 2,500 computers sold and distributed in just two days. Russell also introduced the utilization of bar code label technology in the University Stores distribution center.

In 1994, Russell was hired by Financial Operations to lead a project that would establish a one-card identification system for students and staff members. His enthusiasm and vision resulted in the development of the Mcard. Russell received worldwide recognition for the smart-card technology utilized in the Mcard program.

“Over the years, as I’ve talked to Bob Russell and his staff, I have always been impressed with the ways that Bob found to convey his respect for, and trust in, the people who worked for him (or as he used to say, the people he worked with),” said Robert Holmes, director, Human Resource Development (HRD).

“As HRD has endeavored to develop the skills and knowledge of managers and supervisors, I have often thought that Bob Russell was the best of all possible role models for others in the University,” Holmes added. “While I’m deeply sorry that all of us didn’t have much more time to learn from him, I and many others will always be grateful for the images of effective leadership and positive interpersonal relationships that Bob consistently provided us with. My hope is that, out of respect to Bob’s memory, we will all look for more ways to practice the humane workplace values that he practiced during his career.”

“I was thinking about Bob’s embracement of M-Quality and wondered if he realized that he practiced the same fundamentals of empowerment, team building, positive feedback and the notion that the individual matters,” said Kevin Donovan, administrative manager, Facilities and Operations. “I hope he did, because it was obvious to all of us that we had a uniquely gifted boss and friend—a man, I believe, to be ahead of his time.”

“Bob’s willingness to take on a difficult project and give it 110 percent was typical of his initiative and commitment to the University,” said Robert Moenart, executive director of University audits. “Bob will be missed by all of us, especially those who worked closest with him and knew him well.”

Memorial contributions may be made to the Alzheimer’s Association, 12721 30th Ave. NE, Suite 101, Seattle, WA 98125.

Submitted by MCard program, Financial Operations