Sam Houston State Mourns the Loss of Visionary Leader, Justin Russell Ball

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Ball Remembered for Dedication to Global Engagement and Compassionate Leadership at SHSU

Article from TODAY@SAM / Campbell Atkins

Sam Houston State University is mourning the loss of Justin Russell Ball, who served as Director of the Global Engagement Center (GEC) since 2018. Ball joined the center’s staff in 2013 and was a guiding light for the university’s international student population. He was 43.

“To know him was to love him,” said Assistant Director of Study Abroad Jessica Miller, who worked under Ball for two years. “He was very compassionate and sympathetic, that’s what we loved most about him. He cared about our families and us taking time to be with them. He was probably one of the kindest bosses I have ever had, and that’s what we are going to miss.”

Ball earned his bachelor’s degree in criminal justice from Texas A&M Commerce and his master’s degree in counseling from Amberton University. He ultimately returned to A&M Commerce to secure his doctorate in educational leadership.

Before joining SHSU’s staff, Ball served as international student coordinator and academic advisor at Navarro College. During his tenure as director, he worked diligently to establish SHSU as a global campus and prepare its students to be culturally competent as well as expand study abroad awareness. 

According to his colleagues, Ball was a caring individual who led by example. He would often check in on his employees to see how they were doing and ensure they had the resources they needed in work and life. His affinity for storytelling brought life to the GEC office and highlighted his outgoing personality.

As director, there was no task or issue too small. He found joy in assisting students with their inquiries as they adjusted to a new culture while trying to cultivate academic success at the collegiate level. This compassionate attention to detail was not lost on the international student population, many of whom have openly expressed their great remorse upon learning of his passing.

Ball derived his greatest happiness in life from his wife, Andrea, and two children, Connor and Callahan. He was a passionate baseball fan and supporter of the Houston Astros. He passed his love of the game on to his children and served on the Board of Directors for Huntsville Little League. He was also an avid hunter who could often be found at the deer lease with his father and two sons.