Russell Eells ’81 Leads Prep School – Hobart and William Smith Colleges \
The HWS Update

Russell Eells ’81 Leads Prep School

Julia Russell Eells ’81 has been appointed head of San Francisco University High School, one of the highest ranked college preparatory high schools in the nation, effective July 1, 2013. She currently serves as head of school at the Lincoln School in Providence, R.I.

According to a letter issued by the Board of Trustees of San Francisco University High School, Russell Eells “was selected by a unanimous vote of the Search Committee and Board following an extensive, national search process.”

Russell Eells earned her B.A. in art from the Colleges and was an active member on campus and in the Geneva community during her time here. She served as chair for both student committees for the 1980-’81 tenure positions in the art department and participated in the student interviewing committee for an art department opening in fall 1981. That year, she was presented the Elizabeth Sibley Stebbin Prize, presented to a William Smith Student for outstanding performance in art.

Born in Fontana, Calif., Russell Eells came to reside in Geneva, N.Y., after her father accepted the position of professor of physics at the Colleges. As a member of the Geneva community, she served as a classroom assistant at Geneva Junior High School and taught tennis for the Geneva Recreation Department. In the summer of 1980, she interned with the Ontario County CETA program, working at the Geneva YMCA.

The full letter announcing her appointment follows.

Dear Members of the UHS Community,

The Board of Trustees of San Francisco University High School is pleased to announce the appointment of Julia Russell Eells as the next head of school, effective July 1, 2013. She has served for the past seven years as head of school at the Lincoln School in Providence, Rhode Island, and was selected by a unanimous vote of the Search Committee and Board following an extensive, national search process. Julia’s warm and engaging personal style, combined with her extensive 30-year career in independent school administration and leadership, exemplify the criteria identified by the UHS community during the search process.

A graduate of Hobart and William Smith Colleges, Julia holds an MA in Humanities from Wesleyan University. She began her career as the director of college counseling at the Ethel Walker School, in Simsbury, Connecticut, moving on to Miss Porters’ School (CT) in 1989 where she served in a number of leadership roles in admissions and college counseling over an 11-year period. In 2000, Julia took on the newly created role of assistant headmaster at Westminster School (CT), where she brought her experiences in all-girls education to a co-educational boarding and day school. While at Westminster, Julia oversaw all aspects of faculty hiring and retention, the result of which was a notable increase in faculty diversity.

In 2005, Julia was appointed head of school at Lincoln, the only Quaker all-girls’ school in North America, which was founded in 1884 and currently enrolls 380 students in kindergarten through 12th grade. Her initial focus at Lincoln was the launch of a new strategic plan, which in 2007 led to a highly successful capital campaign and a $5 million campus-wide capital improvements program. She established the Center for Peace Equity and Justice Through Service to deepen the school’s commitment to community service, while also teaching a sophomore class on ethical citizenship. Despite a difficult economic climate, Lincoln’s annual giving has increased by 70% under her leadership.

Julia’s husband, John Eells, is an accomplished musician. He graduated from the Royal Academy of Music, London. He has served for the past 30 years as music director at Miss Porter’s School and, more recently, as the founder and musical director of the Rhode Island Philharmonic Community Orchestra. Julia and John have two adult children.

As our ten-month search concludes, we would like to thank countless members of the community-students, faculty, staff, alumni, parents, trustees and friends of the school-for actively participating in the search process. In addition, we extend our heartfelt thanks to our seven colleagues on the Search Committee-History Department Chair Carolyn McNulty, Director of Admissions and Financial Aid Rachel Skiffer, Trustee Emerita Lynn Wendell, and Trustees Lindsay Joost ’84, Dora Mao, Jim Shapiro, and Peter Wald-who were extraordinary in their dedication to an inclusive, productive, and successful process.

Julia brings a tremendous enthusiasm for building connections with students, faculty, parents, and alumni; proven leadership in independent schools; and a deep commitment to social justice and high ethical standards. In the educational philosophy statement she submitted to UHS, Julia stated that she “believes that school communities and classroom experiences should be shaped to build resilience, foster creativity, and encourage curiosity; that a school community should equally prize the development and accomplishments of the mind, body, and spirit; and that programming should balance the nurturing of intellectual, physical, and artistic growth.” We are confident that her perspective provides an ideal complement to the UHS mission.

We invite you to join us in offering a warm welcome to Julia and John when they relocate to San Francisco this coming July.


Cathryn Schember
Chair, Board of Trustees
Co-Chair, Search Committee

Dan Carroll
Co-Chair, Search Committee