The Oregon State University Sesquicentennial Oral History Project

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Darlene Russ-Eft Oral History Interview

Life history interview conducted by Chris Petersen.

June 23, 2016


Darlene Fern Russ-Eft (nee Russ) was born in 1947 in Barea, Ohio, a suburb of Cleveland, and grew up in nearby Fairview Park. After completing high school, Russ-Eft enrolled at the College of Wooster, where she studied Psychology. From there, she matriculated to the University of Michigan, where she completed both a master's and Ph.D degree in Psychology, focusing her research on proactive interference in short-term memory. During her years in Ann Arbor, Russ-Eft also worked as a senior research associate for the American Institutes of Research, where she collected data used in programming evaluation, a topic that later became a central focus of her academic work.

In 1984, Russ-Eft accepted a position at Zenger-Miller, a private-sector training firm focusing on leadership and based in Cupertino, California. During her fourteen years at the company, Russ-Eft continued to study and make contributions to the field of program assessment, with a particular charge to evaluate the training packages that were being offered by her employer. Zenger-Miller was bought out by Achieve Global in 1998, and Russ-Eft remained with the company until relocating to Oregon State University in 2001.

Since joining the faculty of OSU's College of Education, Russ-Eft has continued to pursue research in the field of program evaluation, and has written extensively on evaluation capacity as well as issues surrounding the transfer of training. She has likewise published widely on adult education and leadership and, in 2008, became chair of the Adult Education and Higher Education Leadership discipline within the College of Education. She is known today as a founder of the field of Human Resources Development. Russ-Eft is also a professor in OSU's highly regarded doctoral program in Community College Leadership and, for nine years, served as director of the International Board of Standards for Training, Performance, and Instruction.