After 39 years as a rodeo coach and agribusiness instructor, including nearly 30 at Colby Community College, Allen Russell notified the Board of Trustees of his intention to retire at the end of the semester.
“Mr. Russell has made so many positive impacts on CCC’s campus, both as a faculty member and a rodeo coach,” said CCC president Dr. Seth Carter. “It has been a privilege to work with him for the last several years.”
A graduate of Eureka High School, Russell received an associate degree from Fort Scott Community College and a bachelor’s degree in agriculture education from Kansas State University where he was a member of the rodeo team. He went on to earn a master’s degree in education from KSU.
After college, Russell taught and coached rodeo at Allen County Community College for nine years. He served a short stint at McPherson College before beginning his current post at CCC in 1990. With the instructional and coaching responsibilities, he is an academic advisor for agriculture and ag economics majors and serves as a division chair.
During his first 15 years in higher education, Russell competed in as many as 60 professional rodeos each year and was a member of the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association. Twice during that time, he was a two-time Prairie Circuit qualifier in steer wrestling.
“I started rodeo as a senior in high school and did amateur rodeos until 1985,” he said. “I went pro in 1986.”
For six years he was also the director of the Central Plains Region of the National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association (NIRA), a region considered one of the largest and most competitive that includes colleges and universities in Kansas, Oklahoma and Missouri.
Additionally, he garnered respect in the classroom at Colby when he was recognized with the Tangeman Award for Teaching Excellence in 2009. Those selected are chosen by previous recipients and current CCC students.
CCC Vice President of Academic Affairs Brad Bennett has known Russell for 11 years.
“Allen has been one of the pillars of CCC,” he said. “While we are excited for the next chapter of his life he will be greatly missed by all, but mostly by his students.”
“I’ve enjoyed coming to work every day,” Russell said. “The students make it fun. I’ve been lucky in that respect.”
Russell and other college retirees will be honored at a reception in May.