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In a memorandum sent out by Dean Michael R. Heithaus, we’ve learned Dr. Heather Russel has been appointed senior associate dean for the School of Environment, Arts and Society (SEAS).

Dr. Russell joined FIU in 2003 as an assistant professor for the Department of English. She specializes in African Diaspora Literature and Theory, Postcolonial Theory, Anglophone Caribbean Cultural Studies and mid-19th to 21st century African American Literature. She has published two books, numerous articles and given lectures at several meetings and conferences on intersectionality (race/class/gender/sexuality) and social justice issues.

She has been recognized as one of South Florida’s Top Black Educational Leaders, in 2014 and 2016, by Miami Herald’s Legacy Magazine as part of its educational issue. In 2016, she received a National Endowment for the Humanities grant and was recognized by FIU as a Top Scholar in 2017.

As a member and leader in the Department of English, she has been instrumental in assessing and implementing changes to the curriculum that impact student success across the University. Specifically, these changes have focused on increasing the diversity in both content and structure of the department to better align with the diverse environment of South Florida. Key departmental projects under her leadership include: the creation of a LIT 1000 textbook to introduce students to diverse local writers; co-sponsoring and publishing the Community Literacy Journal, an interdisciplinary publication on community writing and social justice; and formalizing the Exchange for Change program, a writing program assisting incarcerated individuals in gaining skills to better prepare them for reentry to society.

Dr. Russell has served as the chair of the Department of English since 2016. She has also served as the graduate program director for African and African Diaspora Studies from 2011 to 2013, and, was elected to serve on the executive council for the Caribbean Studies Association, the largest professional association of Caribbean scholars incorporating a range of disciplines. In 2018, she was appointed by senior vice president of Academic and Student Affairs, Elizabeth Bejar to serve as the institutional representative for the FIU branch of the ACE Women’s Network of Florida. In addition, she is currently serving as editor for FIU’s The Next Horizon 2025 Strategic Plan. 

Dr. Russell serves as the lead scholar for NEH’s Landmarks in American History grant. Her current book project is titled Black and White TV: Independence, Popular Culture, and Globalization in the Anglophone Caribbean. She received her Ph.D. in English from Rutgers University in 1997.