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Robert Hilton Russell ’49:
Dartmouth Professor Gives Back with Gift Annuity

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Robert Hilton Russell ’49

Robert Hilton Russell ’49, who earned a Ph.D. from Harvard and taught Spanish at Dartmouth for 46 years, decided to establish a charitable gift annuity with Knox College in gratitude for the rigor and flexibility of his undergraduate education.

“At Knox I had incredible freedom to pursue my interests,” says “Bob,” 87, who earned his bachelor’s degree in modern languages.

With a charitable gift annuity Knox pays a set amount each year to one or two beneficiaries, with the gift coming to the College after the donors are deceased. “I was unable to make significant gifts to Knox during my career, and I felt that a gift annuity was an ideal way to give back to Knox while providing for me and my wife,” Bob says. “This gift united us more fully with Knox.”

Bob’s wife June died in January of 2014. They were married for 58 years after meeting at a church choir practice and falling “head over heels” in love. That was while Bob was at Harvard, where he earned master’s and doctorate degrees in romance languages and worked as a teaching fellow.

Bob was hired at Dartmouth in 1957 and still resides in Hanover, New Hampshire, where the college is located. He is renowned at Dartmouth for starting the college’s study abroad program and has fond memories of taking students on travel courses to Spain.

Bob’s memories of Knox begin with older sister, Jean Russell Vogel, who graduated from Knox in 1940. As a youth he visited her at the College and was particularly attracted by the academic rigor. He says he learned how to write well from Professor of English Proctor Sherwin, and he also cites the influence of Sally Coleman, Professor of Spanish and Spanish literature.

Bob asserts that Knox was not all serious study and that some of his fondest memories are of college silliness in the dorms—though even much of that had an academic bent.

“One time my roommate decided to re-create the Sistine Chapel on the ceiling of our dorm room,” Bob recalls. “We got in a lot of trouble with the director of the residence halls and spent hours scrubbing it off. Good thing my roommate used water-based paint!”

While teaching at Dartmouth in the early 1990s, Bob served as a visiting professor at Knox and was impressed by the experience.

“I was struck by the similarities of the faculty then compared to the faculty during my years as a student,” he says. “I recognized a purposeful faculty that was consistent in academic quality but was not obnoxious or self-promoting.”

Bob urges other alumni to support their alma mater.

“Knox is one of the few places in this country where young people can grow and become excited about nearly everything they do,” he says. “Everything at Knox comes together in a way that makes it a unique school.”

 

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