DAVID GRAY RUSSELL, Ph.D.

February 3, 1937 – September 8, 2021

National Academy of Kinesiology – International Fellow

David Gray Russell (NAK International Fellow 1993), Professor and Emeritus Professor, School of Physical Education, University of Otago, New Zealand (NZ), was born February 3rd 1937 in Timaru NZ and passed away September 8, 2021 in Dunedin, NZ.  David is survived by his wife Ruth of 63 years, his children Neil and Susan, grandchild Lucy, one brother and two sisters.

Professor Russell received his teaching certificate in NZ in 1958,  his BPE (1970) and MPE (1971) from the University of British Columbia (Head of graduating BPE class).  He then travelled to University of Michigan where he completed a MA (psychology) in 1972 and his PhD (motor learning and control) in 1974.  David then was a Research Assistant Professor at the University of Illinois before moving to the Human Movement Studies Dept at the University of Queensland in Australia where he was a Senior Lecturer from 1974 – 81 and Head of the Dept from 1978- 81. 

In 1981 he became Dean of the School of Physical Education at the University of Otago, NZ until July 1991.  During his 20 years as a member of the academic staff of the School, David was actively involved in: changing the Diploma of Physical Education to a degree program with a strong multidisciplinary basis; the addition of Honors and Postgraduate programs in Physical Education; supervisor of the first PhD graduate from the school; establishing the biophysical features of the teaching and research in Physical Education; and planning the building program for the Physical Education laboratory complex at Otago. 

Following his period as Dean of the School, David established the Life in New Zealand Activity and Health Research (LINZ) Unit and was Director of this Unit until his retirement in 2001.  During this time the LINZ Unit undertook a number of national surveys in physical activity and health for the Hillary Commission between 1987 and 1990; the National Health Survey in 1996 and 1999 for the Ministry of Health and was Senior Project Advisor for the Children’s Nutrition Survey from 2001-02 for the Ministry of Health.

David served as Deputy Chairman of the Division of Sciences at the University of Otago from 1992 to 2001 and provided extensive administrative experience to the University serving as convenor on numerous University and Divisional committees and working parties. Following his retirement in 2001 from the University he accompanied Ruth to the Cook Islands, where Ruth worked for the Ministry of Education.  While he was there he developed and implemented workshops for the Secretariat of Pacific Communities on Physical Activity and Health.

David’s research interests have included: co-ordinating a research review on drugs in sport for the Royal Society of NZ culminating in the publication ‘Drugs in Sport: Their Use and Abuse’; exploring the cost of inactivity of the New Zealand population leading to the report ‘The Cost of Doing Nothing’; his interest in Sport psychology lead to a long term collaboration with Professor Tara Scanlan (UCLA) that included working with the All Blacks (NZ National Rugby team) and the Silver Ferns (NZ National Netball team) on the “PEAK” project on elite athlete commitment.  David also undertook consultative work with the NZ Olympic & Commonwealth Games Foundation. 

Professor Russell had been the recipient of numerous additional honours to his Fellowship of the NAK.  These included the Honorary Fellowship of the NZ Federation of Sports Medicine; International Vice-President for Oceania of the International Council for Health, Physical Education and Recreation.  Professor Russell’s international connections lead to guest lectures in many countries including Australia, Austria, Canada, Japan, Malaysia, Singapore, USA, Wales and Yugoslavia.

Outside the University of Otago , David was noted for his skill as an aviator and alongside Ruth, as a gracious host and entertainer of the many international visitors who passed through the School of Physical Education and the University of Otago.  His commitment to University projects was good preparation for his building of a retirement house that he and Ruth lived in until his death. 

David is fondly remembered by his many colleagues throughout the world and he has left an exceptional legacy of scholarship and friendship.