Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management has received a $17 million gift from the estate of a graduate of the class of 1935.

James R. Russell received a full scholarship to attend Northwestern’s School of Commerce, now the Kellogg School, where he graduated summa cum laude with a degree in business administration

He met his wife, Helen, in 1934. They were married in 1939, the same year that Jim joined Illinois Tool Works, where he worked for the next 40 years, retiring in 1979 as the company’s CFO. He died in 2011.

“The very generous bequest from Jim and Helen Russell comes at a transformative and exciting time for Kellogg,” said Sally Blount, dean of the Kellogg School. “Jim was a wise and prudent business man and a loyal alumnus of the school. We are grateful to the entire Russell Family for this gift and are honored to use it to celebrate Jim’s legacy and very successful career at ITW.”

The Russell estate gift will:

  • Fund the creation of the Russell Fellows Program, a new M.S. in Management Studies (MSMS) degree program to be offered at Kellogg
  • Establish a chaired professorship in Kellogg’s finance department
  • Be recognized by naming a lake-view lounge in the school’s new lakefront global learning center.

Creating the Russell Fellows Program

Named in recognition of the Russell Family, the Russell Fellows are chosen annually from a highly selective pool of graduating college students who have applied to study for a one-year Master of Science in Management Studies at Kellogg. This new degree is designed for recent liberal arts graduates who seek grounding in core business skills before they embark upon careers in business. It marries the benefits of a strong liberal arts foundation with Kellogg’s distinctive approach to management education.

The pilot Russell Fellows program launched in late July with 25 students. As part of this program, many of the Russell Fellows are receiving need-based financial aid in order to allow them to undertake graduate studies. Scholarship support was of particular significance to Russell.

New Lakefront Global Learning Center

In recognition of the Russell estate gift and Helen Russell’s love of gardens and the lakefront, Kellogg will also name a study lounge in the family’s honor in the new Kellogg lakefront learning center, scheduled to open in late 2016. The Russell Family Lounge will serve as a gathering space for the Kellogg community.

Flexible seating will provide students with a setting for reflection, as well as workspace for collaborative work. The lounge will feature views of Lake Michigan and the Northwestern campus.

Establishing a Named Professorship

Janice C. Eberly, the United States Department of the Treasury’s former assistant secretary for economic policy and chief economist, has been named the inaugural James R. and Helen D. Russell Professor of Finance. Her finance and macroeconomics research examines the interaction of spending and investment choices with the macroeconomy.

Jim and Helen are survived by their daughter, Dr. Jean Russell.

“I’m thrilled that this gift will honor my father’s talent in business and finance,” said Dr. Russell.  “My parents would be delighted to know that their legacy will live on to support business education and scholarships and the work of Kellogg’s world-class finance faculty.”

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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