News Bell Receives Garrett College Board Award - Garrett College
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Campus News

May 24th, 2022

Bell receives Garrett College Board Award

Former Board Chair honored at College's 50th Commencement


Former Board Chair Viane Bell

Vianne Bell, whose 16 years of service on the Garrett College Board of Trustees included five terms as board chair, received the 2022 Board of Trustees Award for Outstanding Contributions to Garrett College at Saturday's 50th Commencement.

The Board of Trustees, in a unanimous resolution, lauded Bell's "positive, lasting impact on Garrett College" as well as her "commitment to creating awareness of diverse cultures and perspectives" through community-based partnerships.

Bell founded a Diversity Project that brought Garrett College international students into elementary schools to share their stories with Garrett County Public Schools students. She and her husband, Michael, also provided financial support to international students attending Garrett College.

"This is a great honor – the highest honor given by the Board of Trustees," said Bell. "It is humbling to be included with the amazing past recipients of this award."

Bell said then-President Dr. Steve Herman asked her to consider joining the Board of Trustees in 2005.

"I was hoping I could make a positive contribution to the institution," said Bell. "At that time, I did not realize how passionate I would become on the mission of the community college. Garrett College does so much for the students and the community. I have loved being part of the Garrett College family."

President Emeritus Herman said he felt Bell's collaborative nature and "commitment to education and community engagement" were traits that would strengthen the Board of Trustees. He also saw in Bell a rare combination of vision and practicality.

"Vianne is an impressive visionary. She sees opportunities where others do not, and has a history of turning possibilities into realities," said Herman, lauding her work in support of the College's international student program as one such example.

Dr. Lillian Mitchell, who served with Bell on the Board of Trustees after retiring as GC's dean of academic and student affairs, said Bell went "above and beyond" expectations for a Board member.

"Not only did she thoroughly and thoughtfully read every word of information in the Board packets, but she actively engaged with students," said Mitchell. "She truly loved Garrett College and portrayed a deep commitment to serving its students.

"Most people don't realize Vianne took her time to tutor struggling students as she sought to help them reach a potential they may not have dreamed they possessed," added Mitchell.

The Board's resolution also noted that Bell has "put her community spirit into action in a multitude of ways," including serving as a Garrett County Mentor as well as a founding member and co-chair of the Deep Creek Lake Art & Wine Festival. She also hosted a number of Garrett College Foundation fundraisers and was a devoted fan and supporter of the Lakers' athletic program.

Bell said expanding and enhancing the College's facilities for community use stands out as one of the most memorable College achievements during her Board of Trustees tenure.

"We have provided the Community Aquatic and Recreation Complex (CARC), where the public swimming pool now teaches every kindergartner to swim," said Bell. "We have built a state-of-the-art STEM Center, and we are in the process of building a performing arts center that Garrett County citizens have wanted for many years.

"I am very proud to have been a member of a Board with so many dedicated and competent individuals who strove to better the education and experience of the Garrett College students, and to benefit the citizens of the greater Garrett County community," added Bell.

Bell, who graduated Summa Cum Laude from the University of Maryland College Park with a Bachelor's of Science degree in accounting, had a 20-year career as a Certified Public Accountant (CPA). The Bells operated the Good Timber Bed & Breakfast from 2002 to 2016.

Bell has served the past 21 years as treasurer of the Coalition for Effective Local Democracy, which seeks to strengthen local democratic governance through citizen empowerment. She recently authored a book with husband Michael entitled "Titan Without A Profile: The Life and Times of Wilton Mkwayi". The book's subject, an African National Congress leader, was imprisoned from 1964 to 1989 for combatting South African apartheid.