Editor's note: In honor of the university's centennial year, The Daily News is counting down 100 days to the university's celebration Sept. 6 with 100 of Ball State's most famous traditions and figures. Check back each day to read about Cardinal history.  

When Robert Bell began his freshman year at Ball State, the university was only a Teachers College.

Bell received a degree in 1940, making him the first Ball State graduate to become the university’s president, but he didn’t start out that way. When Bell first joined the university as a faculty member in 1974, he was an assistant professor in the business department.

He also held the titles of Dean of the College of Business and Vice President of Business Affairs before being named university distinguished professor in 1980, and eventually becoming president in 1981.

Originally, Bell intended to resume teaching, but was asked to become president and attempt to “give the university some stability,” according to the university website.

During his time as president, Bell began initiatives involving computer literacy, applying technology to programs throughout the university and “computerization for [the] campus,” according to Ball State’s website. 

Bell announced his intent to retire in 1983 in order to give the university time to search for a new president and make a more “orderly transition” when he officially retired in 1984. He did this because he was the fifth president within a six-year period. 

When announcing his retirement, Bell said, “While my term as president could hardly be described as a period of tranquility, it is my judgement that a number of advancements for Ball State University have been achieved.”

Upon his retirement, construction was completed on the Robert Bell Building, which now houses offices of Information Technology Services and the Departments of English, Computer Science and Mathematical Science.

Read more centennial content here.  

Contact Brooke Kemp with comments at bmkemp@bsu.edu or on Twitter @brookemkemp.