William H. Russell
Professor William H. Russell, known to his friends, colleagues and students as Bill, taught geography and meteorology at Pierce College from 1984 until 2014. He devoted much of his time and energy to running the iconic Pierce College Weather Station, which gained recognition as one of the most distinguished weather reporting sites in the nation.
Russell attributed his interest in the field of geography to reading early issues of National Geographic, which captured his imagination with the different landscapes and cultures represented in the magazine. This led him to pursue a Master's Degree in Geography at California State University, Northridge. He began teaching in the Los Angeles Community College District in 1970. He was a motivated teacher who loved working with students.
In 1987 Russell became the Director of the Pierce College Weather Station, which began operation in 1949 as a cooperative weather station for the National Weather Service. He continued to dedicate time to the Weather Station even after his retirement. His 30 years of service to the Station were recognized by the National Weather Service when he was presented with a distinguished Special Service Award in 2004. In October, 2012, Professor Russell also received a Certificate of Special Congressional Recognition presented to him personally by Congressman Brad Sherman.
Pierce's is the San Fernando Valley's oldest weather station, relied on around the world for consistent, accurate weather reporting. During Russell's tenure, the station was dubbed "the Rolls Royce of weather stations" by a local climatologist for its rich data collection and reporting in one stable location over so long a period.
Russell had a variety of interests, including landscape photography, bicycle riding and art. Over the years he traveled to Europe, Australia, Africa, Middle America and South America and enjoyed sharing his experiences and images with students. "I constantly urge students to travel so that they gain a better understanding of the world's physical, biological and human diversity," he said. He taught courses in geography, meteorology, and environmental studies and was a member of the California Geographical Society and the Los Angeles Geographical Society.
On May 13, 2014, Bill Russell died following a heart attack. He left a generous gift in the amount of $50,000 to the Pierce College Geography Department--a true testament to Bill's passion for geography and his dedication to the Pierce Weather Station. A portion of this gift will be placed in an endowment, as well as establishing a scholarship in Bill's memory.
On January 14, 2015, the Los Angeles Community College Board of Trustees approved the college's motion to dedicate The Pierce College Weather Station to the memory of Professor William Russell (1944-2014).