Muhlenberg College mourns the loss of Professor Charles Russell

The College mourns the loss of Charles Russell, associate professor of chemistry, who passed away Thursday evening.

A 1978 graduate of Wesleyan University, Russell received his Ph.D. in organic chemistry from Colorado State in 1983. He taught two years at Kansas State University before arriving at Muhlenberg in 1988.

Russell received several summer faculty research grants. His recent research interest was in organometallic chemistry. Other long-term interests included p-allyl palladium chemistry and the development of enanitoselective alkylation reactions.

The college community’s thoughts and prayers are with the Russell family, especially his wife Winnie, a long time employee of the College.

About Bill Keller

Bill Keller is the New Media Specialist at Muhlenberg College.
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34 Responses to Muhlenberg College mourns the loss of Professor Charles Russell

  1. Jennifer says:

    Dr. Russell was the definition of a professor. Not only was he brilliant in his area of study but he had such a gift for teaching students. He made organic chemistry my favorite class, something I could never have imagined. He treated his students with respect, dignity, kindness, and love. His passion for guiding his students was evident in all he did. I recall seeing Dr. Russell in his office available for questions on Saturdays and Sundays or weekdays until 11 or 12 at night. He will truly be missed by the thousands of students he has inspired.

  2. Greg says:

    For me, Dr. Russell was an amazing and gifted teacher, mentor, and friend. I was fortunate enough to research in his lab as an undergraduate, and he made the experience very enjoyable. Dr. Russell always encouraged me to try new techniques and to think critically about novel approaches to scientific questions, and I still carry these ideals with me to this day. I am truly grateful for the opportunity to work and learn alongside Dr. Russell, and my heart goes out to Winnie and the rest of the community.

  3. matthew says:

    I was a biology major who did horribly in organic. I had never met Dr. Russell before but he advised very patiently on the merits of taking over the summer and life in general

  4. Meghan says:

    “The teacher who is indeed wise does not bid you to enter the house of his wisdom but rather leads you to the threshold of your mind.” ~Khalil Gibran

    Thank you Dr. Russell for your time, dedication, and unwavering passion to your craft and to your students. Your presence as an educator and mentor has left an indelible mark at Muhlenberg. No one will ever be able to quantify the impact that you have had on so many people. You are and will continue to be greatly missed.

  5. Nikki says:

    With great sadness, I learn that Dr Russell has departed. He inspired countless students at Muhlenberg and I can say that I am absolutely one of those! One of his wordless smirks could be more reassuring and thoughtful for a then-shy girl than one could imagine. He didn’t judge a book by it’s cover but definitely by it’s character and content. No that’s not true, he would help out with any one, any time, regardless. What a tremendous loss for Muhlenberg!

  6. Brian says:

    So sad to hear this news. One of my most enjoyable classes at Muhlenberg was an independent study in advanced organic chemistry. Just me, Dr. Russell and another student coming up with cool ways to synthesize molecules. I have great memories of him as a teacher and academic advisor that continue to influence me today now that I am a professor.

  7. Allison says:

    Dr. Russell was such a wonderful professor and an even more amazing person. He was very patient when teaching and always wanted to see his students succeed. Heaven is lucky to have someone like Dr. Russell.

  8. Jenna says:

    I am so shocked to hear this news. Dr. Russell was one of my favorite Muhlenberg professors. He was so dedicated to teaching, and so passionate about chemistry that he made organic chemistry enjoyable and interesting. He will be greatly missed by the Muhlenberg community.

  9. Rebecca says:

    I was never a fan of organic chemistry…..but that didn’t stop me from being a fan of Dr. Russell and his teaching. I remember him always saying “How about them puppies” and staying “until there are no more customers”–often to 11 pm or midnight–before exams so that anybody who had questions could spend time in his office until the student got it. Definitely a great professor who will be sorely missed.

  10. Anthony M. DiJulio says:

    Professor Russell was my advisor and mentor during my years at Muhlenberg. He was an amazing teacher and researcher, and I learned a great deal from him. I am very upset over his passing and my prayers are with him and his family. Dr. Russell will be missed…I was fortunate to work with him.

  11. Mike McGuire says:

    I went to grad school with Charlie Russell and was his house mate for several years. We both worked for Prof Hegedus. He and I lived in a 50 deg house in Colorado to save money. We made chili so hot neither of us could eat it. We drank beer and talked deep into the night. He was a quiet, very bright, and kind man. He had depth and thought hard about things. He loved his bicycle and riding hard. He also loved his music. He helped me be a better chemist and better man. I am sorry for his loss. He was my friend. Rest in peace.

    • Mike McGuire says:

      Charlie was a true Connecticut Yankee. He really was not concerned much if others disagreed with him. He was modest in his needs and private about his life. I always admired him for this. The first day I met him he looked like a refugee from ZZ Top with an enormous beard and a lot of hair We hit it off because I was similarly hairy. I learned quickly that Charlie was very well educated and I would have to work hard to catch up. I am not sure I ever did. I am happy to see he was loved and admired at Muhlenberg. He deserved it.

  12. Donna (Miliano) Almond '01 says:

    I am very sorry to hear about Dr. Russell. He was a great professor and advisor who taught with great enthusiasm.

  13. Emily says:

    Dr. Russell was one of those professors who touched the lives of so many students, and because of this he will never be forgotten and will forever be admired.

  14. Matthew Katz says:

    Dr. Russell is an inspiration to us all. A man who had unending patience and a passion for being an excellent teacher. It was really and honor and a privilege to be able to take organic chemistry with him. He made that which is one of the most dreaded classes for any biology major into one of the best classes I took in college. His respect and availability for students was unmatched, and his excitement about the material was infectious. It’s not often you get to say all of those things about a professor, but in the case of Dr. Russell they are all absolutely true. Dr. Russell will be sorely missed.

  15. Olivier says:

    My prayers go out to his family and all who knew him well.

  16. Lee Silverberg says:

    What a shock. Charlie was incredibly helpful to me, a professor from another school. He did not just let me use the equipment but helped me and spent his time doing things for me. I enjoyed talking with him and finding we had a lot in common. I will miss him. A great loss for Muhlenberg, his family, and all who knew him.

  17. Sean Maloney says:

    Dr. Russell was the definition an amazing professor. His teaching style, patience, and unique sense of humor created a learning environment unlike any other. For myself and my fellow classmates, we will never forget the long nights of studying along side Dr. Russell. His dedication to us and making sure we understood the material is unsurpassed. He took a material feared by many and turned it into one of the most enjoyable courses I took at Muhlenberg. To us it was obvious that to Dr. Russell, the growth of his students was what he loved most. Dr. Russell invested his time to make a difference in so many lives, and for his students and coworkers he will live on through our dedication to others. Thank you Dr. Russell for everything, you will be sorely missed.

  18. Mike Bruckner says:

    Charlie was a wonderful citizen of Muhlenberg College. He had a great love for teaching and had a wonderful impact on his students. My prayers and thoughts are with Winnie, and his friends and family.

  19. Katerina Pham says:

    Dr. Russell was one of the greatest professors I ever had. You could tell that he was passionate about teaching and chemistry. Not only that, but he was patient with each of us, willing to help us think through difficult material. He always phrased things in ways which allowed us to uncover the correct answer, even if it took rephrasing of the question several times or staying late at night over the weekends. Over the course of organic chemistry, he became a friend to us, his students, and he instilled in us a passion for learning. He has taught me a lot more than what was taught in the classroom. He taught me that we should pursue what we’re passionate about and do that for every single day of our life. Dr. Russell was a great professor and friend to his students. He will surely be missed.

  20. Tom Cartelli says:

    I deeply regret Charlie’s passing but also regret not having got to know him better. Our acquaintance really dates back only 18 months when we began serving together on the curriculum task force. Judging solely on that experience, I found him to be a remarkably generous, considerate, and sweet-tempered individual, possibly the most thoughtful among us.

  21. Matt Bourbeau says:

    It’s impossible for me to overstate the impact Charlie Russell had on my life. When I came to Muhlenberg in 1994, I had no intention of becoming an organic chemist, I was just another pre-med who thought organic chemistry was something I would have to suffer through. But then I got to Charlie’s class as a sophomore, and everything changed. He was an inspiring figure to me, and I soon found myself working with him doing independent research. He was incredibly supportive throughout me tenure at Muhlenberg, and gave me excellent advice when it came tome to take my studies to the next level. Simply put, without Charlie, I would not be the person I am today. He’ll be sorely missed.

  22. Roxy says:

    I was super lucky to have worked Dr. Russell’s LA for Organic Chem I and II, had him serve on my honors committee, take two classes with him, and go out drinking at Ringer’s Roost and the tavern at the end of my senior year. Dr. Russell is one of the coolest people I have ever met! He and I talked about music (he introduced me to a reggae Led Zeppelin cover band…did I mention how awesome he is?), our mutual love of birds (he had a parrot he loved dearly), laughed together (we made silly animal shapes out of the EP maps on Spartan, have you ever heard Dr. Russell laugh? So funny), and of course talked about science! What a brilliant guy. I’ll really miss him. He and Winnie are great people, I am so sad for everyone this loss has impacted. He will forever live on in my mind and in the minds of all that knew him as a laid back, quirky, brilliant, and chill professor. Thanks for everything!!!!!!!!

  23. Patricia Bradt says:

    My deepest sympathies to my good friend, Winnie, and to the entire caring Chemistry Department. I cannot imagine the grief you are experiencing. My prayers are with you all. I know what a marvelous member of the department Charlie was and how deeply he was respected.

  24. Stephanie says:

    Words cannot express how thankful I am to Dr. Russell for being so encouraging and supportive. He was always willing to help, just as he said “I’d be happy to” when I asked if he would consider writing me a letter of recommendation. I have no doubt that I wouldn’t be where I am today without his willingness and enthusiasm to help me.

  25. Kristen '07 says:

    I had Dr. Russell for my two chemistry elective classes, advanced organic lab and NMR, He was an amazing teacher, making two challenging subjects interesting and understandable. I will never forget the “quantum mechanics” button he drew on the board during NMR – his version of the easy button to explain some really complicated concepts. He will be missed.

  26. Rebecca says:

    Dr. Russell was an incredible professor and person. He was brilliant, kind, and funny. He really made you think– every lecture and lab was difficult, but I felt so accomplished by the end of each unit. I wish you were still here– it is so hard to walk into our classroom and know someone else will be teaching us. I am so sorry we couldn’t finish your semester long synthesis project while you were still here– we will try as hard as we can to complete it. Thank you, Dr. Russell, for both the most amazing semester of Organic Chemistry 1A I could have possibly received, and for the opportunity of knowing you.

  27. Samantha says:

    Dr. Russell is an absolutely wonderful teacher and person. He helped to realize my passion for science and organic chemistry, provided guidance and support, and made me fall in love with learning. When I was experiencing a particularly difficult time in my family, Dr. Russell not only provided me with a sensitive ear, but also wouldn’t allow me to make up my work until my situation had calmed down. He treated all of his students with respect and deeply cared for all our lives as well as academic successes. I can never thank him enough for his kindness, humor, humility, and education. Dr. Russell is and will continue to be truly missed.

  28. Priscilla Bell says:

    I’m a college chemistry professor at another liberal arts school and Dr. Russell was my uncle. He was a self-effacing warm hearted man and I am proud to have known him. Those who knew him as a teacher/scholar have a benefit that I, even as an organometallic chemist did not have because to me he was always “Charles Elliott”. I am shocked and saddened at his passing. Thanks to all of you who posted such warm thoughts about him.

  29. Kyle says:

    Dr. Russell was and will forever be one of the best professors of Muhlenberg College. His self-sacrificing efforts to teach and guide us were the reason why some of us are where we are and who we are today. Dr. Russell helped mold me into the man I am today and will forever be grateful for it. His ability to take even the most complicated material and make it understandable is the sign of a great teacher. I honestly believe he could have taught rocket science to a high school student in a comprehendible manner. Thank you, Dr. Russell, for everything you have done, we will miss you truly.

  30. Jenny Bell Sandoval says:

    Charles Elliott Russell was my step-uncle, younger than my brothers and much younger than myself. My best memories of CE were holding him as a new baby- he looked just like his father, my Grandfather, and also of him beating the pants off his relatives in Charleston SC at Trivial Pursuit. CE (Charlie) was well travelled, whether it be by foot, boat or bike and I know we all are glad he shared many years with his love Winnie and his many students.

  31. Sam Campano says:

    Over the years, I volunteered with Charles at Community Bike Works. He was an easy person to like and the kids really liked him. I hope his transition was smooth and wish his family well.

  32. Lowell Wynn says:

    Charlie Russell always brought a smile to my face in organic chemistry. He had some unique mannerisms such as snapping his fingers in the hall or making a confused look in class when a topic was confusing for both the students and himself. I regret the fact that i did not have more time with him after class and sharing with him the fact that he reminded me of John Cleese ever so slightly.

  33. Jeffrey Blinder says:

    As a fellow volunteer at Community Bike Works, I loved working with Charlie, and also reminiscing about my experiences as a chem major back in college in the 70s. He was not only a mentor for our kids, but his patience, sense of humor, and teaching methods served as valuable examples for us volunteers. He will be sorely missed. His kindness and positive influence on us, but especially on so many children, serve as a precious legacy to an all around great guy. A terrible loss for Muhlenberg College, Community Bike Works, and our community.