“I will never forget it,” said 2004 Ball State graduate Tom Kozrowski.
“He said, ‘Thomas, you’re one of the best sports shooters I’ve ever seen.’ I’m getting chills right now just even saying it.”
Throughout his career, Steve Bell, professor emeritus and the first Edmund F. and Virginia B. Ball Endowed Chair in Telecommunications in the College of Communication, Information, and Media (CCIM), was able to both witness history and see the future in his students.
Born Dec. 9, 1935, in Oskaloosa, Iowa, Bell graduated from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University in 1967 and started working at a radio and television news station. He then joined ABC Radio News soon after, according to a press release.
Bell was the Hong Kong bureau chief for ABC when he covered the Vietnam War. He also covered various 20th century events including the assassinations of former President John F. Kennedy, Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert Kennedy; the Watergate break-in; and the Newark (New Jersey) Riots.
“With the level that he was at, with the things he did, with the resume he had, his ego should have been through the roof,” Kozrowski said.
After returning to the United States, he became the news anchor for ABC’s “Good Morning America” until his retirement in 1986.
Bell joined Ball State in 1992 as the endowed chair and later taught in the Department of Telecommunications until his retirement in 2007, according to the press release.
Michael Spillman, interim chair of the department of telecommunications and lecturer of telecommunications, worked with Bell, and said, despite his various accomplishments, he did not come across as pretentious.
“I don’t think there’s a single person on our faculty who didn’t enjoy working with him and wasn’t proud to consider him a colleague,” Spillman said.
Kozrowski said Bell was always willing to help and always made time to answer questions — whether it was after class or in Bell’s office. Bell also did not turn away from those who said, ‘Hi,’ to him, and would stop to have a conversation no matter who it was.
He also said Bell spent hours helping to fine-tune Kozrowski’s portfolio reel, which led to a job offer the morning after Kozrowski sent it to a news organization.
“Anything that I needed from him, he was there,” Kozrowski said.
Despite only meeting him a few times, Paaige Turner, dean of CCIM, said Bell was a “kind,” “gracious” and “supportive” individual.
“He cared so deeply about the department and field of journalism,” Turner said. “He wanted to make sure our department was providing the best education to our journalists.”
Turner added Bell believed in teaching the “ethical, thorough journalism that he actually lived his whole life by.”
Today, Kozrowski is a camera operator and freelancer, and has worked with CBS Sports, the Big 10 Network and ESPN. He said he would not have been where he is now without Bell.
“He wanted to pass his knowledge,” Kozrowski said. “That tells you what kind of man he was.”