Religious Studies Professor Earns the Respect of His Peers and Students as the 2012 Rice Award Winner
By Austin Harper ’13—Student Writer
Dr. Ian Bell is more to his students than a professor. He is a confidant, a role model, a leader, a mentor and a friend.
As the 2012 winner of the Sister Eileen Rice Award for Outstanding Teaching, the chair of the Humanities Division and associate professor of Religious Studies was recognized for his exceptional teaching methods and his incomparable commitment to his students.
All those above-mentioned attributes make him one of the most beloved faculty members at SHU.
The Sister Eileen Rice Award is presented to the professor who receives the most votes from students. Recommendations from faculty members are also taken into consideration, and then a committee, which includes the prior award recipients, decides who is most deserving of the award. In the three previous years, winners of the award were Joe Raab, Jeffrey Lindstrom and Nick Kaplan.
Bell’s initial plan was to become a mechanical engineer, not a college professor. The Wisconsin native began his studies at Michigan Tech University, but during his first year he started to reconsider that choice.
“My atheist friends questioned how I could be a Christian,” Bell said. “I started struggling with the doctrines of the incarnation and Trinity. I began focusing on faith rather than calculus, which resulted in academic problems.”
He transferred to the College of St. Scholastica in Duluth, Minn., where he received a degree in youth ministry. He spent a year-and-a-half teaching in a parish in Minnesota as a youth minister but chose to continue his scholarly career. At the College of St. Catherine in St. Paul, Minn., he received his master’s degree. He later received his PhD in Religious Studies with an emphasis in systematic theology from Marquette University in Milwaukee, Wis.
In 2003, began his teaching career at Marquette as a graduate student. In 2007, he was hired at SHU, where he is in his sixth year. Bell also heads the annual Chiodini/Fontana Lecture Series on Ethics at Siena Heights, and has influenced curriculum development in religious studies and has continued to produce scholarly publications.