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Mizzou Alumni Association honors Kehoe, Russell with Geyer Awards

Lieutenant Governor and retired commissioner recognized for their dedication to higher education

January 23rd, 2019

Story Contact: Sheena Rice, 573-882-8353,

COLUMBIA, Mo. – Lieutenant Governor Mike Kehoe and David Russell, former commissioner of higher education, have received the 2018 Henry S. Geyer Awards from the Mizzou Alumni Association. The awards were presented to the recipients at a reception at the Governor’s Mansion in Jefferson City on Jan. 22.

The Alumni Association’s Legislative Network Committee annually presents the awards to one state-elected official and one citizen who exemplify the dedication and spirit of Henry S. Geyer. As state representative, Geyer believed education was the key to progress and prosperity in Missouri and introduced a bill to establish the University of Missouri in 1839.

“This year’s recipients are excellent examples of what it means to advocate for public higher education in our state,” said Jeff Montgomery, chair of the Legislative Network Committee.

Prior to becoming lieutenant governor in June 2018, Mike Kehoe represented Cole, Gasconade, Maries, Miller, Moniteau, Morgan and Osage counties.  First elected in 2010 and re-elected in 2014, he served in multiple leadership positions.

“Lieutenant Governor Kehoe has been a long-time supporter of higher education,” Montgomery said.  “Whether via the traditional four-year model, through community colleges, or at various technical institutions, he understands that a skilled and educated workforce is critical to employers and Missouri’s economy.”

While in the senate, Kehoe helped restore funding cuts to higher education, and supported the UM System in their legislative days at the capitol as well as accepted interns through the University of Missouri’s Civil Leaders Internship Program.

“Even now, the Lieutenant Governor has been working on collaborative ways our higher institutions can be involved with my administration’s core priority of workforce development,” said Governor Mike Parson. “As technology and automation create an evolving workplace and economy, I am confident the Lieutenant Governor will continue to provide the leadership necessary to ensure our higher education institutions can equip the skilled workforce Missouri needs for decades to come.”

Prior to his 27-year career in higher education, Russell served in the United States Army as a commissioned officer, retiring in 1991 as a lieutenant colonel after a 22-year career, including two combat tours and assignments in infantry, personnel management and public affairs. His personal decorations include the Legion of Merit, Purple Heart, Bronze Star, Meritorious Service Medal, Joint Service Commendation Medal, Army Commendation Medal for Valor, Combat Infantryman’s Badge and General Staff Badge.

“Before his retirement in 2018, David Russell devoted nearly 50 years of his life in public service to our state and nation,” Montgomery said. “Higher education in Missouri has benefited greatly from Russell’s tireless efforts.”

As Missouri’s chief higher education executive, Russell provided overall leadership for a state system of higher education that served approximately 400,000 students. Under Russell’s direction, the department drafted enabling legislation and adopted policies and initiatives to make college more affordable and accessible while improving student retention, time-to-degree and degree completion rates that raised the national profile of Missouri higher education as a leader in innovation.

During Russell’s career with the University of Missouri he had overall responsibility for communications, strategic planning and policy development. He worked with multiple system presidents and other general officers to integrate the activities of multiple departments and create efficiencies throughout the university.

Russell holds a doctoral degree in educational leadership and policy analysis from the University of Missouri. He is a frequent presenter and lecturer on topics related to higher education, public policy and institutional governance.

For a list of all past Geyer Award recipients visit the Mizzou Alumni Association’s website.