Kimberly Russell, tapped to head LSU-Eunice, to focus on workforce development _lowres

 

Newly appointed LSU at Eunice chancellor Kimberly Russell plans to make LSU-E an institution that provides business and industry with a skilled workforce despite the recent series of budget cuts to the state’s colleges and universities.

“Funding has been an ongoing issue (in Louisiana) since 2008, so that’s something that’s not that new,” Russell said in a telephone interview. “We are just going to be cautious with finances and play a big part in preparing students to perform in the workforce.”

Russell, who has served as vice-president for advancement and external affairs at Tyler Junior College since 2008, was one of four finalists to lead the 230 faculty and staff at the open-admissions institution, which offers associate degrees, certificates and continuing education programs for 3,000 students.

The other chancellor finalists, according to LSU-E’s website, were Scott Amundsen, vice-provost and dean of university studies at Trident University International; Richard Shrubb, former president of Minnesota West Community and Technical College; and Keith McLaughlin, vice-president of institutional planning and effectiveness at Morton College in Cicero, Illinois.

In a March 10 story in The Shreveport Times, Russell had been listed as one of four finalists for the chancellor’s position at Bossier Community College.

The search for the new LSU-E chancellor began earlier this year after William Nunez announced in December that he was retiring after having served in the chancellor’s position since 1996.

Following Nunez’s announcement, LSU conducted a nationwide search assisted by a committee of LSU-E faculty, staff and community leaders.

Russell said she plans to assume the chancellor’s position by Sept. 1. Renee Robichaux, currently LSU-E’s vice-chancellor for academic affairs, will serve as the university’s interim chancellor until Russell arrives in Eunice.

Russell said she plans to focus primarily on LSU-E’s growth, expansion and relationship to business, industry and school systems.

“The focus of my plan is going to come down to working on regional workforce development. We also plan to work on our student transfer plans that we have currently with LSU-Alexandria, other institutions and, of course, our flagship university (LSU) in Baton Rouge,” she said.

Russell said she also hopes to improve LSU-E’s relationship with the state’s school districts.

“We are going to be focused on schools from the K-12 level and also working with districts to provide dual credit opportunities for students,” Russell said.

Russell has said she would like to institute internal and external focus groups in order to better understand the needs of local industry, The Eunice News reported on May 7. “We should reach out and mend fences and explore new opportunities that may exist,” Russell said.

In the telephone interview, Russell said LSU-E’s position as a university located within reach of several parishes is a benefit, especially when it comes to hosting a culturally diverse student population.

“Dr. Russell brings with her a wealth of experience in multiple facets of university operation and we are excited to see her plans and implementation for expanding and growing LSU-E to help meet the needs of the state,” LSU President and Chancellor F. King Alexander wrote in a news release announcing her appointment.

Russell received her master’s and doctorate degrees at the University of North Texas and her bachelor’s degree at the University of Texas-Tyler.

She was appointed executive director of the Tyler Junior College Foundation in 1999. While there, Russell increased funding for the school from $5 million in 2000 to $47 million in 2015, the news release says.