A. Weir Bell Medical Fellowship
Dr. A. (Archibald) Weir Bell is proof that a person can make a huge impact in a very brief time. Dr. Bell joined the biology faculty of the newly formed California Lutheran College in 1961. Two years later, at the age of 63, he died of a heart attack. But in his short time at CLC, he left an indelible mark—on his students, on the institution and on the medical profession.
How Dr. Bell happened to come to CLC was quite interesting. He had already established a distinguished reputation as a zoologist through his research on enchytraeids, a microscopic form of water worm. A graduate of the University of Redlands, he combined research with instruction in the chemistry department of Los Angeles City College for 22 years. Then in October 1960 he wrote a letter to CLC president Orville Dahl, offering his services to help organize the life sciences at the young campus. As he wrote, “I feel it in my bones that in the favored locality and with the strength of the Lutheran church, you are destined to become a great college with research being an essential part of your program.” By the time CLC opened its doors to its very first class of students in the fall of 1961, Dr. Bell had accepted Dr. Dahl’s offer to become a professor of biology.
Dr. Bell was a good businessman as well as a fine teacher. In late 1961, he gave a gift of stock to CLC with the intent that it would become the corpus of a graduate fellowship for CLC students planning to enter the medical profession. The fellowship was, upon Dr. Bell’s death, to be awarded to a student who had already been admitted to an American Medical Association approved medical school and was to be used for the first year’s tuition and expenses. Although President Dahl encouraged him to allow it to be awarded to a senior student planning to go to medical school, Dr. Bell stood his ground and put his wishes into writing.
Dr. Bell’s widow Josephine carried the banner for her husband following his death. She continued to contribute to the fellowship and she remained actively involved in the life of the University. She was extremely proud to be associated with CLU as the widow of a former professor and took seriously her role as caretaker of the fellowship.
The A. Weir Bell Medical Fellowship continues to support qualified students who want to serve humanity through the medical profession. This award has been given to many outstanding CLC/CLU graduates who have made their unique mark on society and the medical profession. Dr. Bell would be proud of the impact this endowed fellowship has had and will continue to have in the future.