In Memoriam: Millie Louise Bown Russell, 1926-2021

Millie L.B. Russell, a former administrator and lecturer in biology at the University of Washington, died on November 1 in Seattle. She was 95 years old.

The granddaughter of enslaved African Americans, Dr. Russell grew up in Seattle. She was the first Black student to enroll in the medical technology program at Seattle University. She earned a bachelor’s degree in biology from the university in 1948.

After working at the Puget Sound Regional Blood Center for more than a quarter century and being involved in the civil rights movement, Russell returned to Seattle University to earn a secondary science-teaching certificate. Later she earned a master’s degree in kinesiology from the University of Washington and an educational doctorate.

Dr. Russell began her tenure on the staff at the University of Washington in 1974 as the director of the preprofessional program for minority students in health sciences. Later she became assistant to the vice president in the Office of Minority Affairs. Dr. Russell founded the Early Scholars Outreach Program at the University of Washington designed to steer middle-school students from underrepresented groups onto a path toward higher education.

When she retired in 2007 at the age of 81, the University of Washington Office of Minority Affairs and Diversity established the Dr. Millie Russell Endowed Scholarship in honor of her lifelong devotion to education and equality.

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