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  • Logan Sella

Meet New OC Psychology Professor Valeria Russ

Imagine coming to college without ever seeing any of it. Not a single building, a classroom, a library, or even a bookstore. Imagine accepting a job, yet never seeing an office, never seeing the workplace. Valeria Russ, new psychology professor at Olivet College, did just that, due to the COVID-19 pandemic this spring.

“When I was hired in April, I had never been on campus, and had only seen pictures and small parts through Zoom videos,” said Russ.

Russ, who began in August, now teaches Abnormal Psychology, Intro to Psychology, Statistics and Research Methods at Olivet via Zoom calls. 

Prior to teaching at Olivet, Russ taught and directed the psychology program at Fayetteville Community College, as well as part-time at Fayetteville State University, both of which are in North Carolina. As a student, she also completed her undergraduate education at Fayetteville State.

“I’m originally from North Carolina, and that has been home for me for a while,” said Russ.

Despite being a North Carolina native, Russ chose Olivet College for a few different reasons. 

“I had always wanted to teach at a four year [college] for my own reasons…I started doing a lot of background work, reading about the school and thought it was a very good fit for me,” said Russ.

The history of the college was also a factor in Russ’ decision to move to the far north. 

“I saw that there was a very rich history for a small college, and that really appealed to me,” said Russ.

A self-described “people person”, Russ did acknowledge that it has been difficult to adjust to “speaking to students who have their cameras turned off and watch me on the video like they’re watching TV”, but that herself and her students are making the adjustment together. 

“The shift from [face-to-face] classes to virtually has been hard for the students, especially at a college that didn’t offer too many online courses before, but I still think that I can connect with students. You get out of it what you put into it,” said Russ.

Reece Burton, an Olivet College senior and psychology major, was a student intern this past spring. He was also part of the committee that interviewed Russ. According to him, Russ is a perfect addition to the psychology department.

“So far, she’s been very likable. While I haven’t had her in class, personally, from my time spent with her, she is definitely very knowledgeable, and you can tell she has had a lot of experience,” said Burton.

John Moore, fellow psychology professor at Olivet College, was part of the hiring committee that interviewed Russ on her way to Olivet.

“[Russ] is a great addition to the program because of her background…her Ph.D. in educational psychology adds a new area of expertise for us, as well as her experience being in charge of the psychology program at her last institution,” said Moore. “As a colleague, I am happy to say that Dr. Russ has proven to be very engaging, collaborative and friendly to work with.”

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