Jimmy and Piper Bell Host Alumni Reception in Clarksville >>>
Jimmy Bell (’80) was raised on a Clarksville farm, so when the time came to choose a college, the idea of going to a large campus was daunting. A family friend’s son graduated from UT Martin and suggested it to Jimmy, who later earned an agriculture business degree and made lifetime friends, all part of his own UT Martin experience.
He and his wife, Piper, generously opened their Clarksville home Aug. 4 for an alumni reception that welcomed current and prospective students and university alumni who live in Montgomery County. Jimmy talked about his UT Martin memories and encouraged others to consider attending.
Jimmy remembered when he and his parents first visited the campus and “fell in love with it.” Making his own experience even more personal, he remembered, “I spent countless evenings at the dining room table of my professors studying for exams,” he said. “Professors had open-door policies where if you’re between classes, you could just go in their office and hang out with them. “And not only did they teach us the subject matter, but also a number of the professors would take interest in you as an individual and take you out and teach you social skills and life lessons at the same time that ultimately prepared you for the business world.”
Jimmy was also impressed with how faculty members helped to connect students with the business world after graduation. “Many of the professors on campus actively sought out companies to come and recruit at UT Martin, which is something that friends of mine that went to other universities, they never had that type
After graduation, Jimmy worked for Monsanto and stayed with the company four years before returning home to enter a farming partnership with his father, James W. Bell. Among his fondest UT Martin memories are the friends he made as a member of Alpha Gamma Rho Fraternity, as well as “the opportunity to truly become friends with professors” who influenced his academic experience. He was reunited with one of those faculty friends in 2011 when Dr. Rodney Thomsen, professor emeritus of agricultural economics, came to Jimmy’s Clarksville home for a visit.
Jimmy and Piper, an art teacher at Clarksville Academy, regularly welcome visitors to their home. Hosting the UT Martin reception was particularly special for Jimmy. “This was just a fantastic way of being able to give back, to bring in students, prospective students, and share the excitement for the university with them,” he said.