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Legacy of a Kingmaker - New exhibit celebrates the life and legacy of influential alumnus Dr. Cornell A. Bell

A mentor and role model to generations. That’s the legacy that Dr. Cornell A. Bell, the longtime director of the pioneering Business Opportunity Program (BOP) left behind. On January 23, 2024, that legacy was honored with the official dedication of the Dr. Cornell A. Bell Exhibit in the Roland G. Parrish Library of Management & Economics on the second floor of the Krannert Building.

Dr. Bell served as the director of BOP at Purdue for 37 years before his retirement in 2006. During his time at Purdue, he helped recruit hundreds of students to start the next chapter of their lives in West Lafayette.

Bell passed away in March 2009. His lifelong commitment to helping others continues on in the network of alumni whose lives he helped change. Bell’s efforts were well-recognized throughout his career, earning him a variety of awards, including the Special Boilermaker Award from the Purdue Alumni Association in 1987 and the Sagamore of the Wabash, one of the highest awards given by an Indiana governor, in 1996. That year, BOP was renamed the Cornell A. Bell Business Opportunity Program in his honor.

Roland Parrish, the distinguished alumnus for whom the library is named, celebrated the dedication of the exhibit with a speech to attendees. Parrish was mentored by Bell during his time at Purdue and states that Bell and the Business Opportunity Program were key to his success. Although he lettered four years on Purdue’s track and field team, Dr. Bell was the one who encouraged him to pursue academic excellence with the same passion he showed on the track.

Bell's impactful legacy is preserved through this new exhibit, which includes a selection of his awards and a brief history of his remarkable contributions. The exhibit serves as an enduring inspiration for future generations of business students, motivating them to pursue greatness and reach their full potential.