Christopher ‘Caskey’ Russell Named New Dean of Western's Fairhaven College of Interdisciplinary Studies

Christopher ‘Caskey’ Russell has been named the new dean of the Fairhaven College of Interdisciplinary Studies at Western Washington University, Provost Brent Carbajal announced today.

Russell, hired following a national search, will start in his new job at Western on Aug. 16. He succeeds John Bower, a Fairhaven College faculty member, who served a one-year, fixed term appointment as Fairhaven College dean.

“I look very much forward to working with Dr. Caskey Russell when he takes up his new position as dean of the Fairhaven College of Interdisciplinary Studies. As he is currently director of Native American and Indigenous Studies and assistant director of the School of Culture, Gender, and Social Justice at the University of Wyoming, Dr. Russell will bring to Western a wealth of administrative experience and academic credentials,” Carbajal said. “We look forward to Dr. Russell’s leadership at the college and university levels and welcome him and his family to our community.”

Russell, an enrolled member of the Tlingit Indian Tribe of Alaska, has a doctorate in English from the University of Oregon and master’s and bachelor’s degrees in English from Western. At the University of Wyoming, he also currently is an associate professor in the Department of English. He previously served there as director of Chicana/o Studies and as assistant chair of the English Department.

“I am thrilled to be returning to Western 25 years after I graduated with my MA and I'm both humbled and grateful to be working in Fairhaven College. I have fond memories of taking courses at Fairhaven when I was an undergraduate student at Western. I look forward to reconnecting with Western and making lasting connections with the faculty, staff, and students at Fairhaven,” Russell said.

In his career, Russell also served as a visiting researcher at the College of Maori and Pacific Studies at the University of Waikato, New Zealand; as an assistant professor in the Department of English and adjunct professor in Native American and Indigenous Studies at the University of Wyoming; and lecturer in American Indian Studies at Iowa State University. While a graduate student at Western, Russell was a graduate instructor in creative writing in the WWU Department of English.

Russell’s research and teaching include American Indian studies and literature, indigenous sovereignty and critical race theory.

He has published extensively in his fields of expertise, including Native American and Indigenous Studies; BIPOC Access to Higher Education and Critical Race Theory. His published works include the book “Critical Race Theory Matters: Education and Ideology” with Margaret Zamudio, Jacquelyn Bridgeman and Western's Francisco Rios; and many scholarly articles and presentations. He has served as principle investigator on a number of grants, including from the National Science Foundation's Documenting Endangered Languages Program.

Russell also has received numerous awards and honors, including a fellowship through the Wyoming Institute for Humanities Research as well as the John P. Ellbogen Meritorious Classroom Teaching Award from the University of Wyoming.

Western's Fairhaven College of Interdisciplinary Studies cultivates student responsibility for designing and assessing learning through interdisciplinary inquiry, creativity and scholarship. For more information about the college see: