March 2013 Cover
Volume 81 | Issue 2
March 2013

Inspirational Former President Bell Passes Away

Boris Bell passed away Nov. 22, 2012. He was 91. Bell impacted the lives of many through his campus and volunteer work.

“All those who had the privilege of knowing and working with Boris were professionally and personally influenced by him,” said former ACUI President Joseph Benedict. “We have lost an outstanding professional.”Bell

Bell’s many years of dedication to the Association and profession were honored when he received the 1974 Butts-Whiting Award. Upon presenting the award, David Seamans said, “To know this man is to know concern, patience, understanding, and compassion. It’s hard, in fact well-near impossible, not to love this kind, modest, and sincere gentleman.”

Bell served as ACUI president from 1971–72. Prior to this, he was vice president for regional affairs for three years. A June 1971 Bulletin article described Bell as “popular, clear-thinking, and a tireless worker,” who was “eminently qualified” to lead the Association.

Bell volunteered for ACUI beyond his time as president. He was on the Research Committee, Committee on Minority Programs, and the Nominations Committee.

A strong interest in research spurred Bell to publish two books for the profession—These Are Our Best – A Collection of Outstanding Programs and The Administration and Operation of College Unions.

Bell also had a rich professional career. He attended West Virginia University as an undergraduate, where he worked as a student employee, was in the honors society, and played for the university baseball team. Bell’s undergraduate education was interrupted for three years while he served in World War II; he was deployed to Africa and Sicily, Italy.

After receiving his degree, Bell taught and coached baseball at a high school. However, he eventually returned to his alma mater, working as a night manager at the union while pursuing his graduate degree.

His first professional role on campus was as union director at West Virginia University from 1953–59. Bell spent the next 10 years as the director at the University of Rhode Island, where he oversaw the first major addition to the union building in 1964.

Bell then moved to George Washington University, serving as director until he retired in 1987. Of his many accomplishments there, Bell oversaw the construction of a new union just three blocks from the White House.

“Under Boris’s leadership [at George Washington University], we quickly learned what it meant to be a professional on our campus and in our chosen careers,” said former ACUI President Jay Boyar, a colleague of Bell’s. “I credit Boris with creating the desire within me to engage in professional volunteer activities as he had done.”

Bell will be remembered by those who he inspired.

“Our hearts are heavy with the loss of an ACUI icon who meant so much to so many,” said Executive Director Marsha Herman-Betzen.