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Bell named new president at UMES

Juliette B. Bell will be the next president of the University of Maryland, Eastern Shore, the University System of Maryland Board of Regents announced Wednesday.

Juliette B. Bell

Bell, who will take over at UMES July 1, has 20 years of experience in higher education and has been the provost and vice president for academic affairs at Central State University in Wilberforce, Ohio, since August 2009.

“As an academic leader, she has increased student retention and graduation rates and promoted academic excellence across disciplines,” USM Chancellor William E. Kirwan said in a statement.

Bell said she was drawn to UMES because of its position as a premiere historically black university and its unique programs, including aviation sciences, golf management and hotel and restaurant management.

“And of course, I’m interested in the STEM [science, technology, engineering, mathematics] programs the institution has,” she said.

Born in Talladega, Ala., Bell was the first person in her family to attend college. She graduated from Talladega College with a bachelor’s degree in chemistry and went on to earn her Ph.D. in chemistry with a biochemistry concentration from Atlanta University, now Clark-Atlanta University, and post-doctorate in biochemistry from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Patricia S. Florestano, chair of the USM Board of Regents, praised Bell’s leadership record and said in a statement that “the board is confident that she will serve the university, our system, and our state extremely well in the years ahead.”

Bell said she plans to spend her first few months meeting with various groups and community members in order to help her develop a vision for the institution.

Her background in science helps her to be analytical and her years of experience have prepared her to lead the university, she said.

“I’ve been in higher education for the last 20 years, in just about every role you can play at a university, from faculty to dean to provost, so everything that I’ve done up to this point has helped to guide me in this direction,” she said.

She is most looking forward to “everything,” she said.

In April, USM launched a search committee for the next president of UMES. Bell replaces Thelma B. Thompson, who retired on Aug. 15. Mortimer H. Neufville, who held positions at UMES from 1983 to 1996, including vice president for academic affairs, is the interim president. He took his position Aug. 16.