Russ Merris began his tenure at CSUEB in 1971, following his Academy of Sciences-National Research Council Postdoctoral Research Associateship at the Bureau of Standards. His career at Hayward won him the "Distinguished University Teaching of Mathematics Award" granted by the Mathematical Association of America's Regional Section.
The time in between has been filled with countless activities and contributions which have had a positive impact on students from elementary school to graduate school.
Russ's teaching approach has been to promote the beauty of mathematics and its many relationships to other disciplines. An expert in algebraic graph theory and combinatorics, Russ has published 112 research papers and written four textbooks.
In 1976 Russ directed an NSF funded Undergraduate Research Program for talented undergrads from the Western United States. Russ has an unusual record in getting students to do real mathematical research. Several of his students have published both independent research and joint papers. He has been a member of the editorial boards of several academic publications.
Not wanting to be geographically restricted, Russ has traveled to Pakistan as a Fulbright lecturer and a visiting professor at universities in Lisbon, Quebec City, Prague and Edinburgh. Locally looking to have a positive impact at all levels, Russ served as an elected trustee on the Hayward Unified School Board from 1987 to 1991.
Twice, Russ has been named the University's George and Miriam Phillips Outstanding Professor and in 1987 was named the CSU system's outstanding professor.
While Chair of the university's Academic Senate, Russ developed what was then called the CSU Hayward Challenge, testing 11th graders for math readiness. Under another name, the Challenge has since been implemented throughout the CSU system. He also used his "good offices" to facilitate a variety of educational opportunities for our students. One of these was a university wide series of programs, lectures, and panel discussions on the topic, Racism in America.
Russ was a key figure in establishing the Sue Schaefer CSUEB Faculty Service Award.
For 15 years Russ was the official timekeeper for all home NCAA basketball games (men and women). He has also served in such capacities as Freshman Overnight speaker, Summer Bridge speaker, Master of Ceremonies for CSUEB Athletic Hall of Fame induction ceremonies, organizer of the annual CSUEB all-faculty coed softball game, and even judge of the annual Hayward High School Science Fair. Russ could often be found grilling wieners at Al Fresco.
In summary, Russ has been a wonderful colleague, a great teacher, an excellent mathematician, and a valued member of this University whose impact will be felt for years to come.