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Lucy Russell Named to Head Center for Undergraduate Excellence

Sept. 10, 2007 — Lucy S. Russell has been named director of the University of Virginia’s Center for Undergraduate Excellence.

The center has a University-wide mission of expanding undergraduate research opportunities for undergraduates and preparing students to apply for prestigious national scholarships. 

“I am delighted to be at the Center for Undergraduate Excellence, which has accomplished so much,” said Russell, who received her bachelor’s of arts in English from Stanford University and a law degree from the University of Michigan. “Independent research and the scholarship application process enrich the undergraduate experience. I look forward to working with students from throughout the University.”

The center, located on the top floor of the Mary and David Harrison Institute for American History, Literature and Culture, administers the Harrison Undergraduate Research Awards; the Summer Science and Engineering Scholars program; "Research Week," organized by the Undergraduate Research Network to promote graduate and undergraduate research; the Double 'Hoo research awards; and some overseas programs, such as the United Kingdom fellowships, which place fourth-year students in teaching jobs in U.K. boarding schools. The center also contributes to two undergraduate research journals, Oculus and the Wilson Journal of International Affairs.

“Lucy brings an extraordinarily strong background in research and administrative experience to the center,” said J. Milton Adams, vice provost for academic programs. “She has a desire to expand the number of research opportunities for students and has a passion for creating the best undergraduate experience for our students.”

Before joining the Provost's office, Russell studied at the Universite' de Clermont in France, was a visiting research fellow at the University of the Philippines College of Law, served as associate chief counsel at the Food and Drug Administration and consulted for the Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research with the FDA.

Russell has also written non-fiction for Newsweek, the Christian Science Monitor, the Washington Post and Stanford Magazine. She has been a fellow at the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts and a panel member at the Virginia Festival of the Book.

“I am pleased that someone of Lucy Russell’s caliber has been chosen for this important post,” said the center's former interim director, William M. Wilson, association dean for Echols Scholars. “The center plays a pivotal role in undergraduate research, which is attracting more students each year, and is an ever more important part of the University’s work.”

Wilson also praised the center’s work in helping students apply for prestigious scholarships, including the Rhodes, Marshall, Truman, Mitchell, Goldwater, Udall, Fulbright and Beinecke.

“The center has also been a catalyst in encouraging promising students to apply for, and has helped them win, many prestigious scholarships,” said Wilson.

The Faculty Senate, which helps award the David A. Harrison Undergraduate Research Awards, helped create the center in 2002 as a way of highlighting undergraduate research. The idea drew the support of the University president, the dean of the College of Arts & Sciences, the vice president and provost, the vice president of research and fledgling Undergraduate Research Network. Money from the Harrison donation initially funded the project.

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