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Russell A. Hill, former assistant dean at Temple, educational researcher, and entrepreneur, dies at 88

A man of many interests, he taught, traveled, and loved to learn about new things. "He was always doing something intellectual," his son said.

Dr. Hill was interested in local politics and served in the student government at both Juniata College and Temple University.
Dr. Hill was interested in local politics and served in the student government at both Juniata College and Temple University.Read moreCourtesy of the family

Russell A. Hill, 88, formerly of Jenkintown, a former assistant dean for research and development at Temple University’s College of Education, a senior fellow at Research for Better Schools Inc., and an industrious entrepreneur, died Saturday, Nov. 6, of respiratory distress syndrome and pneumonia at Deborah Heart and Lung Center in Browns Mills.

Committed to inclusive education, research, and community service, and imbued with an entrepreneur’s spirit for development and progress, Dr. Hill worked in a variety of teaching and administrative roles at Temple from 1960-1969, and then as an innovative director and manager at the Philadelphia-based Research for Better Schools from 1969-79.

In 1979, he lobbied Congress for a bill on citizenship education, and served on a National Academy of Education task force that submitted recommendations for a scholastic policy to the newly created U.S. Department of Education.

He wrote about education for many publications, and authored academic papers on such topics as behavioral objectives for teachers, and language education for the disadvantaged. In 2011, he published Teach Internal Locus of Control: A Positive Psychology App, a book about “teaching learners to … control their own lives more fully and successfully.”

He also served as vice president of the Association for Moral Education, and was a contributor to its Moral Education Forum.

“He had a thirst for knowledge,” said his son David. “His focus was about community and bettering society.”

At Temple, Dr. Hill was a teacher of teachers, serving as an associate professor and director of the College of Education’s National Teacher Corps program, Intern Teaching Program for Special Education, and Intern Teaching Program for College Graduates.

As the college’s assistant dean for research and development from 1967-69, he monitored budgets for more than 60 projects, chaired many committees, and oversaw groundbreaking new programs such as job support for disadvantaged Black veterans of the Vietnam War, and a doctoral program to train bicultural educators.

At Research for Better Schools, he created and oversaw dozens of academic programs that examined and promoted citizenship, morals and ethics, achievement competence training, and other initiatives. One of his projects was summarized in a paper called Putting Pizzazz in Programed Instruction.

“He was driven and inquisitive,” said his granddaughter Laura.

Born Feb. 27, 1933, in Galion, Ohio, Dr. Hill grew up in the suburbs of Pittsburgh and Philadelphia, and New York City. He earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology and philosophy from Juniata College in 1955.

He got a master’s degree in teaching and curriculum from Temple in 1957, and a doctorate in administration and teacher education from Temple in 1963. In 1979, he added a certificate in public policy and management from Princeton University.

Dr. Hill taught high school English, social studies, science, and math in the Neshaminy and Manahawkin school districts from 1955-59. He married Joan Irvin in 1954, and they had four children. A longtime teacher at Jenkintown High School, she died in 2004.

After retiring from Research for Better Schools in 1979, Dr. Hill put his entrepreneurial skills to work in real estate by coordinating the rehabilitation of urban houses, and operating a newspaper distribution business.

“He was a true entrepreneur in that he could create systems to make things work,” his son said.

Dr. Hill liked to be involved in local politics, and was active with the Minneapolis-based Witness for Peace Solidarity Collective. He was a member of the Rotary and Lions clubs, and the First United Methodist Church of Germantown, and later the Unitarian Universalist Church of the South Jersey Shore.

He liked to travel and lived recently in Beach Haven. In a tribute, Dr. Hill’s family wrote that they will remember his “dance moves, expressive funny faces, and unrelenting belief in their success.”

In addition to his son and granddaughter, Dr. Hill is survived by son Dwight, daughter Jeanne, eight grandchildren, two great-grandchildren, and longtime partner Maxine Blumenthal. His daughter Karen and a grandson died earlier.

Services were private.

Donations in his name may be made to the Unitarian Universalist Church of the South Jersey Shore, P.O. Box 853, Pomona, N.J. 08240, and the Long Beach Island Rotary Club.