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Russell Yeany, dean emeritus of the College of Education, 1941-2017

Kathryn Kao

May 8, 2017

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Russell Yeany, professor emeritus and former dean of the University of Georgia College of Education, died May 5, 2017, from kidney complications. He was 76.

Yeany joined UGA's faculty in 1975 as an assistant professor of science education and served as dean of the College of Education from 1994 to 1999. He enjoyed strong faculty and staff support and was highly respected across campus, as well as in the field of science education.

"Dean Yeany was immeasurably kind and helpful to me as a new dean to the college," said Louis Castenell, who served as dean of the College from 1999 to 2008 and is a current professor in the department of educational psychology. "He spearheaded faculty democracy, promoted diversity in the college and was passionate about community and college relationships."

During his tenure, Yeany set two major goals for the College—excellence and recognition. He sought to raise the national and international profile of the College by hiring quality faculty members and enrolling the best graduate students.

Under Yeany's leadership, the College grew both in stature and excellence. Its overall graduate program was always ranked among the top 20 in the nation by U.S. News and World Report and several individual programs were ranked among the top 10 in the nation.  

With Yeany's help, the College implemented a diversity initiative in 1994 that sought to broaden the gender, race and culture of its faculty, students and curriculum. By creating the Task Force for Multicultural Education, the College became a multicultural pioneer for the whole university.

Yeany also encouraged his faculty to pursue more collaborative, multi-disciplinary projects across campus, which led to the creation of the Dean's Forum, a unique partnership between the College of Education and the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences in 1996.

"The Forum brought together leaders in the two colleges to examine areas of common interest, goals and values in order to establish a collaborative approach to partnering," said Andy Horne, who served as dean of the College from 2009 to 2012. "This beneficial association led to joint advising for students and collaboration among administrators and faculty on course development, research projects and community programs."

Additionally, Yeany served as editor of the prestigious Journal of Research in Science Teaching from 1984 to 1989. His administration was particularly known for its open door policy.

"Dean Yeany marshalled in a golden era for the College," said Dean Craig H. Kennedy. "The entire College community to this day is richer and more inclusive because of his leadership."

In honor of his many accomplishments, the Russell H. Yeany, Jr. Research Award was established in 1996 to recognize faculty members whose research, teaching and service promote a more diverse local, university and global community.

He is survived by his wife Brenda Yeany.

Details of Yeany's memorial service are forthcoming.

Related links: Dean's Office