Finding the Diamonds in the Rough

Nadine Carter Russell sits with Nari Ward, the 2013-14 Nadine Carter Russell Chair, on his installment in the LSU Sculpture Garden.
Nadine Carter Russell sits with Nari Ward, the 2013-14 Nadine Carter Russell Chair, on his installment in the LSU Sculpture Garden.

Nadine Carter Russell has been a faithful supporter of LSU academics for almost 20 years. But, with a tendency to give to areas that reflect her personal interests, her history of giving is more varied than the students who walk the campus she loves.

“I think you should support the university you graduated from, because that’s how you got your start in life,” Russell said. “Your education is what gives you the basis for your career and your future life.”

Russell received her art history degree from LSU in 1967 before building her career in the world of art museums. This background initiated her dedication to the College of Art + Design and the LSU Museum of Art, while a love of music and animals prompted her support of the Schools of Music and Veterinary Medicine.

Within each unit, Russell gravitates toward overlooked projects. “I learned a long time ago to try and find something that other people were not necessarily going to do,” she said, reiterating the giving pattern of her late aunt, Paula G. Manship, who created a chair in Russell’s name in the College of Art + Design.

“Sometimes, I look around, and it’s as simple as sending students off on foreign trips to understand that the world is bigger than just us,” Russell shared. While the objects of her donations may not always be glamorous—such as providing parking funds for students or furnishing a consultation room at LSU SVM—they are always needed.

“If you don’t have support from your alumni, you’re never going to be able to teach anyone else, because no one can afford to go there,” she said of the importance of philanthropy at the university. “The more alumni help the college, the less tuition is for the students, and the more students can get an education.”

Russell explained that she loves to support LSU simply because it makes her happy. “I like to see things improve. I like to see students happy, and I like to see the faculty happy, because that makes for good, quality education.”

Published in Cornerstone Winter and Spring 2015.

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