Heather Rakoczy Russell
Associate Vice President for Residential Life
Heather Rakoczy Russell began her tenure as Associate Vice President for Residential Life in Student Affairs in April 2011. Ms. Russell’s responsibilities encompass leadership for the 30 undergraduate residence halls, graduate student communities, and supervision of six of the most-tenured rectors and the Residential Life leadership team, which is comprised of staff members who oversee student hall staff (RAs and ARs) and supervise rectors. Ms. Russell also provides oversight for residential master planning, which includes both construction of new residence halls and renewal of existing halls. Together with the other associate vice presidents in Student Affairs, Ms. Russell serves in an emergency on-call system for the division, responding to student crises.
Ms. Russell previously served in Student Affairs at Notre Dame as the founding Director of the Gender Relations Center from 2004 to 2011 and as Rector of Pangborn Hall from 1998 to 2005. During her time at the University, Ms. Russell has team taught several theology classes; led campus training sessions designed to create a more welcoming environment and foster respectful dialogue about race, class, gender and sexual orientation; and participated in campus ministry as a spiritual director for undergraduate interns and a supervisor to Master of Divinity students. Since 1998, Ms. Russell has served on several campus committees, including: Advisory Committee for Academic and Student Life; Campus Life Council; Committee on Sexual Assault Prevention; Core Council for Gay, Lesbian and Bisexual Students; President's Ad Hoc Committee on Women; Sexual Assault Advisory Committee; Standing Committee for Gay and Lesbian Student Needs; Thanking Fr. Ted Foundation; and the University Committee for Women Faculty and Students.
Prior to joining the division of Student Affairs at Notre Dame in 1998, Ms. Russell spent five years working in the domestic violence movement with both victims and batterers. She served as Victim Contact Coordinator and later as Program Coordinator for PEACE, Inc. (Project to End Abuse through Counseling and Education) as well as a court liaison for the YWCA Domestic Violence Shelter in Nashville, Tennessee. In addition, she served as a lay pastor of an inner-city church, hospital chaplain and Community Service Coordinator on the Board of Directors for the Alumni Club of Nashville.
Ms. Russell earned a Bachelor of Arts degree cum laude in Philosophy and Theology from Notre Dame in 1993 and a Master of Divinity degree from Vanderbilt Divinity School in 1997 together with the Nella May Overby Memorial Award for honors in field education.