Alumni Council news
Former Gregg Cup winner Bill Russell "blooms" in his own timeM any of us can relate to William P. Russell '62. A self-described underachiever, a "late bloomer" by his own admission, Russell nonetheless has had two successful careers and numerous volunteer positions in which the essential lessons he learned at Kenyon have served him well.
A native of Cleveland, Ohio, who grew up in the Chicago, Illinois, area, Russell knew of the College primarily because his uncle, Robert K. Purves, graduated from Kenyon in 1939. However, it was a 1955 article in the Chicago Tribune ranking the College third in the nation among liberal-arts colleges, after Haverford and Swarthmore colleges, that solidified his desire to come to Gambier. "I have to say it was an emotional rather than a researched decision," says Russell.
His slow academic start at Kenyon ruled out immediate admittance to graduate school, so Russell joined the U.S. Navy after graduation, finishing in the top 15 percent of his class in Officer Candidate School. "I found to my surprise that I had learned to use my time wisely and to recognize what was important in a subject or situation," he recalls.
Following military service, Russell joined Illinois Bell Telephone as a sales management trainee and enrolled at Loyola University in Chicago, where he earned a master's degree in business administration. "I had learned at Kenyon how to dissect problems, analyze them, and draw conclusions. These skills lent themselves to my master's work in finance and were very much valued by my employer," says Russell.
In the mid-1980s, he engaged in the kind of self-examination that characterizes mid-life for many individuals. Eligible for early retirement, "yet too young to really retire," he considered those activities that would make his life most fulfilling. Attracted to estate, trust, and tax planning, and encouraged by his late friend Patterson "Pete" Travis '61, Russell began working toward certification as a financial planner, achieving the designation in 1993. "I love everything about this work," he says. Now he spends his time nurturing the financial growth of his clients. "It is so enjoyable and so flexible that I hope to be able to continue doing it into my eighties."
The lessons Russell took from the College and applied to his business life have applied to his volunteer activities as well--even the one about using time wisely. You see, Russell originally arrived at Kenyon intending to be a premedical student. During final examinations week of his first year, however, he was engaged in doing volunteer work in Mount Vernon rather than preparing for exams, and he finished the year on academic probation. It was an early lesson in time management.
Still, the impulse to serve, to be involved in a worthwhile activity, has been a defining aspect of Russell's life. Founder of the College's Northern New Jersey Regional Association, he was a member of his regional committee during the Campaign for Kenyon and a member of the Kenyon Fund Executive Committee, for which heserved as chair from 1990 to 1992. Russell has also volunteered in the alumni admissions and bed-and-breakfast programs and during phonathons. This year, in addition to serving as a class agent, he will be vice president of the Alumni Council.
"I think working for Kenyon has become more important to me in the past fifteen years or so," says Russell. "Perhaps it's the nostalgia that comes with growing older." After several years of volunteering in other capacities at the College, Russell eagerly moved to Alumni Council where he welcomes the opportunity to become involved in a wider variety of activities.
"Alumni Council is organized around issues," says Russell. "We consider the Council's role in defining diversity, in the upcoming campaign, in shaping the Career Development Center, or in student life issues. Do we have a role, for example, in the curriculum review process? And, we get to do all this in a beautiful setting in the company of thoughtful people."
A particular interest of his has been to explore ways of making the Career Development Center a more valuable resource to both current students and alumni. Also, as a financial planner, he recognizes a need for students to consider financial planning for their futures--to become, of all things, early financial bloomers.
Nominations sought for alumni awardsE ach year at the Alumni Awards Luncheon during Reunion Weekend, the Alumni Council recognizes alumni who have made outstanding contributions to the College through their volunteer efforts with a number of awards.
The Gregg Cup, Kenyon's highest honor for a volunteer, is presented annually to the alumnus or alumna who has done the most for the College in the past year. Distinguished Service Awards are conferred on those alumni the Council wishes to recognize for their leadership work for Kenyon in the areas of admissions, career development, fundraising, and regional associations. The Office of Admissions also recognizes outstanding alumni admissions chairs with the David Harbison Alumni Admissions Award. Those who have devoted themselves to good works for others are acknowledged with the Alumni Council Award for Humanitarian Service.
The Alumni Council determines the award winners each year at its February meeting. If you would like to nominate an alumnus or alumna for any of the awards mentioned above, please write to Douglas R. Vahey '86, Alumni Council president, c/o College Relations Center, Gambier, Ohio 43022-9623. All nominations must be submitted by January 16, 1998.
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