Russell Chair of Manufacturing

The Robert E. and Georgianna West Russell Chair of Manufacturing Excellence is one of 100 Chairs of Excellence in the Tennessee Higher Education System.  Housed at Middle Tennessee State University, in the Department of Engineering Technology.  The Russell Chair of Manufacturing Excellence is an independently endowed program in the Engineering Technology at MTSU.  It was founded by the co-owners of Quality Industries of LaVergne, Tennessee. Robert (deceased) and Georgianna West Russell were both graduates of MTSU and established the Chair of Manufacturing Excellence in November 1988,  and matched by MTSU and the Tennessee Chairs of Excellence program.

The Chair, through the influence and concern of the chairholder, was established to promote an ever-increasing awareness of the challenges confronting the manufacturing industry. The chair also works to positively impact the curriculum that relates to industry at MTSU, increase the depth of knowledge and interest of students, and make contributions to the university's mission of public service. 

The Russell Chair has the unique position of housing the Tennessee Venture Capital Network (TVCN) office within its functions. Formerly a joint funding source for the private research makes it an important link from public research institutions to private industries. This confidentiality is referenced in the Tennessee Codes Annotated section 10-7-504(10)(A).

Russell Chair Overview

The Chair works with undergraduate and graduate programs to assist in the matching of students into the workforce by improving curriculum areas and increasing the dialog between industries and education regarding employment needs. The Chair serves on all Engineering and all Technology Industrial Advisory councils to assist the department in establishing common goals that would benefit all programs in the department.

The Russell Chair of Manufacturing Excellence was founded to enhance the quality of manufacturing education, support the existing manufacturing concerns, and attract new manufacturing activity to the Middle Tennessee region.


  • Continuously improve the image of MTSU and the Industrial Studies Program.
  • Develop and maintain adequate diversity in study areas to ensure a multidimensional student body in terms of experience, interests, and abilities.
  • Involve faculty members actively in industrial programs to ensure the continuous improvement of their cutting-edge skills and the relevancy and immediacy of the materials they impart to the student body.
  • Make Middle Tennessee State University an institution of choice for those wishing to pursue excellence in manufacturing.

Former Russell Chairs

Dr. Charles Perry (2004 - 2018)