Russell B. Hagen


Twin Cities business leader honored with doctorate

Thursday, March 29, 2007

SCSU alumnus Russell B. Hagen ’64 was presented with an honorary doctorate during fall semester commencement ceremonies Dec. 17. He, in turn, shared in a commencement address before 500 graduates and 4,000 guests some of what he’d learned in school and business.

Hagen is founder and chief executive of Data Recognition Corporation (DRC), provider of full-service information management for education, government and business. The honorary degree was bestowed upon him in recognition of his business accomplishments and his support of the G.R. Herberger College of Business. DRC made it possible for SCSU to offer its master’s in business administration program in the Twin Cities, where classes are taught at the company’s Maple Grove headquarters.

The commencement speaker admitted to the crowd that he had been a less than stellar student when he attended SCSU, recalling poor classroom “deportment” and low to middling grades. He said his education ended up being successful, however, because of understanding faculty members like Emeritus Professor Roland Vandell, 93, who was on hand to honor Hagen upon receiving his honorary doctorate. Vandell, Professor John Erickson, physical chemistry, and Professor John Laakso, organic chemistry, were among those whose understanding and support helped Hagen through the rough spots, he said.“I did not succeed on my own and I have come to believe that few do,” Hagen says.

During his last quarter at SCSU, Hagen took the first computer programming course offered by the University, in 1964, when students had access to a computer with a card reader/punch and 20,000 digits of memory.

That introduction sent him off in a new direction – a career in information technology.

Hagen shared some of what he’d learned in college as well as during his career. “Do not be afraid of making a mistake.” The worst mistake of all is not attempting something because you are afraid you will fail, he told the graduates. “Color outside the lines, take a risk, try something and fail,” Hagen said. “Then learn from it, change the process and try again.”

The alumnus also encouraged the new graduates to reach out. “Do something unexpected for someone else. . . . Make sure you allocate time and resources to contribute to the general welfare of the community in which you live and work. ... Find out how far you can go.”