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Penn State Mourns Loss Of Graphic Design Professor Ryan Russell

Penn State’s College of Arts and Architecture experienced a significant loss when associate professor Ryan Russell died of brain cancer on October 23.

Russell, a graphic design professor with a focus on systems design, branding, campaigns, and experiential design, battled glioblastoma for 17 months. He was 41.

Russell grew up in State College beginning in elementary school and departed Happy Valley to receive his undergraduate degree in graphic arts from St. Norbert College in Wisconsin. He was a four-year wide receiver for St. Norbert before he returned to State College to receive his master’s of fine arts from Penn State in 2006.

He quickly joined Penn State’s faculty and spent the following 17 years teaching in the university’s College of Arts and Architecture. Meanwhile, Russell continued his individual studio work which was featured in numerous renowned publications and international museum collections from Bolivia to Denmark.

Russell also recently illustrated and penned the children’s book “My Annoying, Irritating, Always-In-The-Way Shadow” about the power of perspective.

“Ryan is central to my understanding of what the graphic design department even is,” associate professor and interim head of graphic design Joel Priddy said in a message to the Stuckeman School. “He bridged the historical legacy of the program and its contemporary practice. He was a brilliant designer, an incisive instructor, an energizing colleague, and an impassioned advocate for his students. In losing Ryan, we have lost a friend, a leader, and a part of our history.”

Russell is survived by his wife, Samantha Russell, his three children, his parents, his grandmother, his sister, and a large extended family.

A visitation will be held from 2 to 4 p.m. and 6 to 8 p.m. on Thursday, November 6, at the Koch Funeral Home. A selection of Russell’s works will be displayed as well. A funeral mass is scheduled for 11 a.m. on Friday, November 3, at Our Lady of Victory Catholic Church. In lieu of flowers, Russell’s family is requesting donations be made to the National Brain Tumor Society.

The College of Arts and Architecture’s Stuckeman School plans to hold a school-wide celebration of life for Russell at a later date.

His full obituary can be found here.

“We will all miss him more than words can express,” College of Arts and Architecture Dean B. Stephen Carpenter said.

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About the Author

Keeley Lamm

Keeley is a junior journalism major from Richmond, Virginia, and is Onward State's managing editor. She also talks about awesome stuff on our podcast, Podward State. Keeley is a lover of grilled cheese, horizontal time, and Kevin Jonas. If you'd like to share your thoughts on the superior Jonas Brother, feel free to contact her on Twitter @keeleylammm or send your best joke to her email [email protected].

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