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Russell appointed to associate vice president

Observer Staff Report | Sunday, April 17, 2011

Heather Rakoczy Russell was appointed associate vice president for residential life in the Division of Student Affairs, effective today, according to a University press release.

Russell most recently served as the director of the Gender Relations Center.

“Heather is a talented leader who brings to this role an abiding and well-articulated sense of mission, proven leadership at the University and professional experience within our unique residential systems,” Vice President for Student Affairs Fr. Tom Doyle said. “Notre Dame residence hall communities are an anchor for Catholic education in the Holy Cross tradition. Heather will head and help chart the course for these communities as Notre Dame prepares for its third century of Holy Cross education that seeks to integrate the mind and heart.”

Russell will continue in her role as director of the Gender Relations Center until a search has been completed for her successor. The Office of Residence Life and Housing will become two separate offices effective June 1, as previously announced in a reorganization of Student Affairs. Russell will work closely with the office until that date before it becomes part of her formal responsibilities.

Russell graduated from Notre Dame with a bachelor’s degree in philosophy and theology and then received a master of divinity degree from Vanderbilt University Divinity School. She served as the rector of Pangborn Hall from 1998 to 2005 and began her position as the inaugural director of the Gender Relations Center in 2004, the press release stated. She also served as a spiritual director in Campus Ministry for undergraduate interns and was a supervisor to master of divinity students.

While at Notre Dame, Russell also taught several theology classes and served on several campus committees, including the Advisory Committee on Academics and Student Life; the University Committee for Women Faculty and Students; the Core Council for Gay, Lesbian and Bisexual Students; the Committee on Sexual Assault Prevention; and the President’s Ad Hoc Committee on Women.

Before she returned to Notre Dame in 1998, Russell worked in the domestic violence movement with both victims and batterers. According to the press release, she served with the Project to End Abuse through Counseling and Education (PEACE Inc.) and worked as a court liaison for the YWCA Domestic Violence Shelter in Nashville, Tenn. She also spent time as a lay pastor of an inner-city church, a hospital chaplain and a community service coordinator on the board of directors for the Notre Dame Alumni Club of Nashville.