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Generous at Heart

by Bonnie Arant Ertelt, BS’81 | Issue, Winter 2017 | No Comment | |

Aimée Bell

Before her arrival at Vanderbilt in 1982, Aimée Bell, BS’86, had not set foot on campus.

The New Orleans native had visited Nashville on her school breaks but knew of Vanderbilt only from driving by the campus.

Following her father’s recommendation that the first year of college should be spent at least 500 miles from home, Bell asked her high school counselor for a Vanderbilt brochure.

“I fell in love with it on paper, so I guess their marketing really worked,” she laughed. “Once I got to Peabody, why would I leave? It was the perfect fit for me.”

Her first faculty adviser was Robert Innes, professor of human and organizational development, emeritus, and a founder of the Human and Organizational Development program.

“Aimée’s openness about her concerns and expectations was very helpful to me,” Innes remembers. “She has a wealth of empathy and insight into the needs of other people and has the will to take action to meet their needs.”

Bell was one of the first students to major in HOD. Now she is the parent of two children who have attended Peabody and majored in HOD. Daughter Leighton, BS’14, is now a fifth-grade teacher, and daughter Aggie, a senior, is majoring in HOD and French.

“From running a family to running my husband’s architectural firm, there’s nothing in my life that isn’t somehow influenced by what I learned in HOD.”

—Aimée Bell

Bell says her Peabody education helped her build a career, and what she learned continues to inform her everyday life.

“From running a family to running my husband’s architectural firm, there’s nothing in my life that isn’t somehow influenced by what I learned in HOD,” Bell said.

Known for giving her talents, time and money to make a difference at Peabody, she put her HOD skills to work in October, when she served as the Class of 1986 Reunion Weekend chair. Under her leadership, the class surpassed its goal of raising $7 million during Reunion. She also was instrumental in helping set up the Bob Innes Scholarship Fund in 2014.

“I believe in higher education, and I truly have hope in this next generation,” she said. “Peabody was a very special place for me, and it’s been special for my children, too.”

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