PULLMAN, Wash. — For Washington State University’s Nancy Bell, going “back to school” took on a new meaning this summer. She had been on the faculty side of the academic podium for nearly 15 years when she became a student again in June and July as WSU’s 1997 representative to the Bryn Mawr Summer Institute for Women in Higher Education.
“It was the richest learning environment I have ever experienced,” Bell says. “Programs began at 8 a.m. and often ended sometime after 9 p.m., and every minute was packed with learning new higher education theories, discovering new things about myself and interacting with 74 other participants from all types of universities around the world.
“Communicating on a very open and honest platform with women in middle to upper-level university administrations was exhilarating. I gained tremendous insights into all types of diversity. I came back to WSU with a deeper understanding of my role as a department chair and of the external forces, the internal issues, and the academic environment in which my department, our college and WSU function. Quite simply, I will never be the same.”
Bell came to WSU as the Distinguished Professor for Risk Management and Insurance in 1993, and became chair of the Finance, Insurance and Real Estate (FIRE) Department in the College of Business and Economics in 1996. The Ohio native earned her doctorate in risk management and insurance from the University of Georgia, and taught at Florida State University.
Bell is the 14th woman since 1983 from WSU to attend the summer institute, which is co-sponsored by Bryn Mawr College and the Higher Education Resource Services (HERS), Mid-America. It was started 22 years ago to improve the status of women university administrators; emphasize diversity; enhance management skills; examine current issues in teaching, research, and service; and encourage professional growth through new projects and knowledge.
Bell plans to meet with WSU’s former institute participants and to maintain the new network of professional women she met at the institute.
The FIRE department is one of six academic units in the WSU business college. It offers a full range of undergraduate and graduate courses to more than 300 majors. All degree programs are fully accredited and the department is noted for its strong undergraduate programs, its research-oriented doctoral program, and its response approach to industry and government agencies. Courses are taught at the Pullman campus and at WSU branch campuses in Vancouver and Tri-Cities. Persons can visit the FIRE Department on the WWW at