James D. Russell

Jie Ruan, Portrait Artist
With his gentle and encouraging manner, English instructor Jim Russell offered inspiration and wisdom to hundreds upon hundreds of students for 48 years while also serving as a mentor to many a young faculty member. He earned his bachelor's degree from Tulane University and his master's degree from Vanderbilt University before joining the MUS faculty in 1965. He became chairman of the English Department in 1969, a position he held for the next 44 years.
Russell taught English courses at all levels as well as electives in Shakespeare, British Literature, Southern Renaissance, Utopia and Satire, and Modern Literature. His breadth of knowledge allowed him also to teach courses in Art Appreciation, Music Appreciation, Advanced Placement Art History, and Humanities. Along with Terry Shelton he created and published The Owl English Handbook, a valued reference for students and faculty since 1985. He held the Sue Hightower Hyde Chair of English and received the Jean Barbee Hale Award for Outstanding Service, the John M. Nail Outstanding Teacher Award, and the school's first Distinguished Teaching Award. The Tennessee Association of Independent Schools honored Russell with the Loyalty Award and the Hubert Smothers Award for distinguished teaching and dedicated service. A man of immense knowledge, strong character, and deep humility, he conducted his classes with grace and gentility.