Juliette B. Bell made rounds on the campus of the University of Maryland Eastern Shore on Wednesday, greeting an assembly of hundreds of supporters, taking accolades at a luncheon in her honor and mingling at an evening reception on campus.
Bell was named last week as the 15th president at the historically black university on Maryland’s Lower Shore emerging as a leading institution of training in the disciplines of science, technology, engineering and mathematics.
The current provost and vice president at Central State University in Wilberforce, Ohio, takes the helm as UMES president on July 1, but there was no better day than Wednesday to showcase the renowned biochemist and scholar before UMES and Lower Shore communities.
“Happy Pi Day,” Paul S. Trotter, president of the UMES National Alumni Association, told an assembly of several hundred university officials, faculty and students as well as community leaders. He was referring to the March 14 holiday that commemorates the mathematical constant pi, a date reflecting 3/14 in month/day date format since 3, 1 and 4 are the most significant digits of the decimal form. Trotter, a mathematics major and retired meteorologist, said he was confident that Bell would “want solutions.”
“This is an important day in mathematics,” he said.
Bell commended contributions by former UMES President Thelma Thompson, who stepped down in August after more than nine years. “There’s much here to build upon and to grow with,” said Bell, flanked by her husband, Willie Jr., a son, daughter-in-law and two young grandchildren.
Jesse Williams Sr., an alumnus and president of the UMES Board of Visitors, likened Bell’s launch from humble beginnings to prominence to his own growth through the years.
“What I loved about Dr. Bell is that she did it the old-fashioned way — she earned it,” said Williams, a retired vice president at the Goodyear Co. “She paid her dues and she believes in hard work.”