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Walter Herman Bell, professor emeritus, served at ODU from 1957-1970 as Counselor, Director, and Professor of Counseling and as Professor of French. In his interview, he discusses his past positions as professor at Hampden-Sydney, as Red Cross Field Director during WWII, and as Director of Guidance in Portsmouth School System in addition to his experiences at ODU in the Counseling Office.


Oral History Interview

Norfolk, Virginia
October 10, 1974
by James R. Sweeney, Old Dominion University

RealAudio Interview Listen to Interview

Former faculty member of the College of William and Mary, Norfolk Division, and Old Dominion University, 1957-70

Q: Dr. Bell, I would like to begin by asking you some general questions about your background. Could you tell me briefly about your boyhood, where you were born, your academic interests, and early career plans?

Bell: I was born in Clark County, Virginia on July 9, 1900. I was brought up on a farm for the first few years of my life and even learned to do a good deal of farm work. I lived part of the time near a little town by the name of Berryville. I was educated in the public schools after I had had six years in a private school, taught by one of our neighbors a very splendid old lady. Then I came along and graduated in 1918 from high school just as World War I was nearing an end.

I joined the Army hoping to get to Plattesburg and become a Ninety Day Wonder. I was sent, as many others were, to college. I was sent to Randolph-Macon where I had hoped to go, and then go on to Plattesburg where the Ninety Day Wonders were being trained. However, World War I was over in December of, or maybe it was November 1918. Whereupon the government set about discharging us so rapidly that I went on home in December. My days in the Army were about ninety, which didn't give me a chance to become an officer.

I decided to go back to Randolph-Macon where I had been. It was a school I liked very much because of the faculty, who I thought at that time, were very splendid men. Men who were good teachers and they were good friends to students. I did enjoy a great deal of fellowship with these people.

Some of my interests were dealing with people. I've always been dealing with people in a helpful sort of way. I think I got that from my father, who was a very splendid man in that respect. He was always helping people and did what many other people did - went on the note of many people. Many people were beginning to start out as farmers and couldn't afford the price of a horse, or a plow or something, so he felt that he should help them get started. Because he had had the same thing, having been brought up in the days following the end of the Civil War when times were pretty hard, he always had great sympathy for people who were trying to get started. I suppose you get that thing, that sort of thing by catching it. It's hard to resist when you see need and see the satisfaction that comes with satisfying that need or helping to satisfy it.

When I went to Randolph-Macon, I met there a group of young men and a President, President Robert Emery Blackwell who had one great theme. He, too, had been brought up following the Civil War, and he would say to the students whenever they were assembled, "Young men, if you have any abilities you owe it to your age and generation to get training so that you can better serve your fellow man." And then that was a thing that was often repeated.

It was a thing that you saw exemplified in the faculty of the day. Men who worked for very little, but who had a dedication that was remarkable I thought. I don't say that today people don't have the same thing, but then, it was so obvious that that was the great theme of the day: service to your fellow man.

I graduated from Randolph-Macon in 1922. My major was Latin and my minor was French, with some work in Spanish, of course. I had gone to Middlebury during the summer between my junior and senior year. And then I went again the summer following my graduation; this time in French only. I became very much interested in the spoken word and in the language and people. Upon my return to, well to free life of - I thought I was going to go to work in public schools as a teacher. I received then something that wasn't too often given: a scholarship that paid tuition to the Johns Hopkins University in the Graduate School of Romance Languages.

There again I was fortunate enough to meet a man very much to my liking in the person of Carrington Lancaster. He was a great scholar, who has written more on the 17th century French drama than any other man who ever lived, I suppose. He was a very encouraging man and when he discovered a little bit of interest, he would try to encourage it; a little bit of ability, he would try to brush it up for you, or help you brush it up. As a consequence of this sort of thing, I went on in graduate work until the end of my freshman year.

The College of Hampden-Sydney wrote to Dr. Lancaster that they needed someone to teach for a year or two French and German, or rather Spanish and German, let me correct that. I was a little dubious but I said, "I think I can do that, Dr. Lancaster. How about letting me go?" He wrote and found that I was acceptable so I went to Hampden-Sydney with the idea of staying one or two years, which I really did.

I found that college was very much like Randolph-Macon. I had played football against these boys, many of the boys in my classes, only a year or two before. I had run track and found that here were some of my competitors. One of whom had beat me in my best race which was the 440. But I did get along. I found the men quite generous with me. I found plenty of support to work with people. Hampden-Sydney, which had a small student body gave the faculty a splendid opportunity to talk with the boys in and out of class and to approach them on a friendly, mutually helpful basis. As I had been interested in track, then I was asked to coach the track team. I did so with some success but not too much. The only benefit perhaps was that the boys got started a team which is still going.

Another group needed somebody to coach dramatics. Well, I knew plays by having read them, but I had never acted in one. I had seen many plays but I had never had any acting experience. So when the boys said, "We would like to have you coach dramatics," I proclaimed my ignorance of the field of acting. But they insisted so I went ahead. One of my first students was Robert Porterfield. Robert Porterfield, who later became Director of the Bartley Theatre of Abingdon. He went to New York and to Hollywood, and never did as much acting as he did promoting. He was a great promoter. He was the founder of Virginia State Theatre, which we now have.

Not only was dramatics a field of interest that needed cultivation amongst the students, but music. Since I like to sing, and I used to sing in quartets, I helped in this field. I used to sing in quartets with the boys or fellow faculty members, out of which grew a double quartet and eventually we developed a chorus. By that time I was out of it because I didn't know how to do that and I let it be known, so they secured someone better prepared to do so.

My teaching at Hampden-Sydney I consider a great experience. The student body had always been a carefully selected group and generally a group that was above average, not only in ability, but in academic interest. Now, one never knows exactly the result of his teaching but he can imagine that he did something even if he didn't do it too well.

One of my students informed me once that during World War II he had been a Lieutenant in command of an LST which was driven ashore on D-Day. His comment was that for three days he kept his men alive and out of the hands of the Germans with the two years of French he had flunked with me at Hampden-Sydney. So, one will have to take some satisfaction from small crumbs occasionally. In any case I'm sure that while my interest in the language was great and I did publish a book in it called Titres Tragie-comedie de Jean Regnard that was a study of the life a third rate writer of the 17th century. He was a man who, as most small men do, influenced the greater writers of the day, Corneille, Moliere, and Racine perhaps.

I didn't continue in French because Depression struck about 1930. I had gotten married in 1931 and had been hit by a terrific depression which took away much of my salary, so I couldn't get abroad at all. I couldn't keep up with myself; nobody could keep up with himself, or his field very well unless it were a field where the material was close at hand. Most of my research up to that time had been done in Baltimore, Washington, London and Paris. The line of my research would have taken me into these fields, so I actually had to get out of it and with the advent of a family, it was still more difficult to continue in a scholarly way--that is, in a publishing way.

I simply had to let much of it go, so I let my interests go to History, which was local history. Most of my contributions from then on have been smaller articles, briefer articles on local history or educational matters. I had publications in the Virginia Journal of Education, Virginia Magazine of History and Biography, as it was then called, and the William and Mary Quarterly. So while they are brief, some of them have been interesting and maybe valuable.

Then I also found another bent. I was more interested in working with people than I was with books, that is, as my main employment. I still read and still occasionally try to publish things, but not as I once did. At Hampden-Sydney I taught many students who have since done themselves splendidly in the world of work and of scholarship, not the least of whom was Dr. James L. Bugg.

I was a bit surprised to see him come to Old Dominion and not quite prepared to apologize for whatever I might have done wrong to him while he was there. But on investigation I found that I had always given him excellent grades. I then felt quite at ease. Otherwise I might have been a little upset. So my memories of Dr. Bugg are not only as a student, but as the son of my banker and friend in Farmville, Virginia. I was still glad to see him come and having lost all of my fear, I was doubly glad.

However, I was slated for retirement almost immediately upon his coming anyway. So I need not have been too troubled. I was more troubled by retirement almost than anything else.

Yet, that was not a thing I dreaded at all because I was ready for it. First thing I retired from Old Dominion was a position as Director of Counseling, of course. Then at 65, I was supposed to retire from that job, but I passed by one year without being noticed and it was only when I was 66 that I called attention to the fact that I needed to be retired.

I was eager to go to Europe and I didn't want to have to work all summer. So, a successor was named and I was made Professor of French. By this time I had a certain nostalgia for the language and was permitted to teach higher classes in literature because there was a demand at that time and I enjoyed it. Now, there were other men at Hampden-Sydney whom I could recall, but I think perhaps I better leave it at that for the present.

Q: During World War II you were an American Red Cross Field Director with the Second Infantry Division in Europe. Could you explain how you came to fill this position and your duties?

Bell: Being a Field Director with the American Red Cross was an opportunity to be of service to men who were near the front. It was a position where you were in contact with men under very trying circumstances. It's true that the American Red Cross had many functions, but ours was to particularly be helpful to the men to discuss problems. Not such as the chaplain might be better fitted to perform, but since we had the privilege of using army radio and we had second priority, we could send home for reports on family conditions. Many men were in the Army who were disturbed by fears of what was going on at home. Of course, their fears were already pretty intense from being in the line of duty of battle, but the two added together were sometimes pretty hard to take.

So, we spent much of our time discussing with men what they wanted to know and then trying to get the information. That was often very helpful. Death notices were often sent to us, but I preferred never to deliver them myself without a chaplain and found out that worked quite well. It gave us a better relationship amongst the men, as well as myself and the chaplain. So we would work out what we each would do, with the only idea being to help the men in their need. That doesn't mean that we sometimes didn't overlap, but generally we would have no problem getting together to discuss things with each other and with the men.

It seemed to me that what I was doing-- one thing I was doing was to get information which the men would need. The next thing was to handle it in such a way as to be helpful to the men. I was particularly impressed by one or two of the chaplains I met who had an extraordinary gift of doing this and I really learned a great deal from them.

Then there was the old question of sitting down and talking to men whenever they felt that they wanted somebody to listen. Now I have to emphasize the word listen. As a teacher I was inclined to talk; not that all teachers talk, but that then it was more or less the custom to talk. I had a splendid lesson on that in Germany.

We had been billeted after the battle of Leipzieg and we were billeted in a German brewery of all places. There was nothing in there to drink because all the alcohol had been extracted from the liquor, so nobody got drunk. Consequently, when men came, they were sober and interested in what they wanted to talk about.

On one occasion a young man came to me and said, "I want you to sit down here. I want to talk to you." He began by saying he could preach. He could preach an hour at a time. Would I listen? I demurred. I didn't think a brewery was exactly the place for a sermon and I wasn't quite ready for it anyway. I began to tell him that I thought maybe if he were going to preach he ought to get ready. Get his education in line. He needed to be educated. He needed this, he needed that. With some annoyance he stood up and looked down at me and said, "Mister, you just sit there and listen. I want to do the talking."

I think that was the beginning of my understanding of what a counselor should be, although I had had training. But to have it presented so forcibly was really quite impressive, and I have thought about it ever since. I felt these men had to talk. If anybody knows what a Doughboy or Infantryman at the front goes through, you will see that he has to be allowed to talk sometime. Otherwise he could never stand it. So I learned something from him,

I went with the Army to Czechoslovakia and Pilsen where we spent some months following the end of the war. And while there, I was offered the job of Field Director for the 3rd Army. I'm not quite sure why I didn't take it. I asked for time to consider it and before I could do much considering, my division had been ordered to be deployed. We started on our way, we were sure, to Asia. I had no way of replying, so I don't know what might have happened if I had actually said yes, immediately. I am happy now that I didn't. But it was a great experience and made me resolve that I couldn't go back into the classroom but had to follow along the same lines I had been practicing.

Q: After the war in 1945, you moved to Norfolk to head the Norfolk Regional Consultations Service, a counseling service for adults. Why did you temporarily leave college teaching after you had established yourself and what was the nature of your new duties?

Bell: While I was still in the Red Cross, attached at this time to the 97th Division at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, I was approached by a friend of mine in the State Department of Education in Virginia to consider helping with one of these. What they were thinking of as a model counseling services placed throughout the state. Since I had had a good deal of training in a practical sort of way, in the Red Cross and also in classes and had done a good deal of reading, I considered it. And as luck would have it, before I could make up my mind this time, the Japanese had surrendered and I didn't need to go to the Far East, so I resigned. I went to Richmond where I spent about four months in classes and in practical apprenticeship counseling. I was given then the position of Director of Norfolk Regional Consultations Service.

There were two functions really: to help encourage counseling practices in the surrounding school divisions of which I was to be responsible for eighteen. At that time I don't think that there was a single counselor in any of the school divisions called such. There were people doing counseling or advising, but they were not set up as counselors. There was no provision for them. People hadn't been thinking along those lines, but of course, the need was growing. The other thing was that we were to offer practical training and keep up our own contact with people by counseling adults, primarily service men who had returned and who needed to do planning.

So we went for that. We had an office on the corner of City Hall and Monticello Avenue in Norfolk for a number of years. We moved about in various spots in the following years, but there we were quite near the agencies that were serving veterans. And what we were trying to do was to provide an opportunity for men and women to study themselves and their interests. Their capabilities which we would occasionally help measure with tests. And then to help them shape their own plans. We did profess never to make these people's decisions for them and I hope we succeeded. We've always felt that a person could do a better job of arriving at his own decision about what he wanted to do, instead of being told what he had to do and having to accept it.

So our point was to think with him until he could arrive at a decision if possible. It didn't always happen, but we thought we could help them there. We were dealing mainly with the people who didn't have any special difficulties, emotional difficulties. That doesn't mean that we didn't meet plenty of these, but it was our practice always, if possible, to refer them to any agency or an individual who could help them in a way that we could not.

That has been my philosophy, and was my philosophy while I was at Old Dominion and while I was in Portsmouth schools. When abnormalities began to appear, began to manifest themselves in such a way that they blocked any other possibility of arriving at a decision. We would always refer them, at least my agency.

We had four people. There were myself, two counselors and a psychologist at all times. And we would take plenty of time to think with the person. We tried to collect all the information we could, particularly out of college catalogues and descriptions of jobs and how to go about training for them. Training facilities were one of the things we tried to be most informed upon.

All in all, it was a question of helping a person reach his own decisions, on the basis of information as accurate as we could give him when he felt the need for information. Along with this we were visiting, at all times, the various schools in the area.

We would, for instance, go into a school and help, usually the principal, or somebody close to him, study a person, and plan for that person. We thought that if he once had done this job, he would be interested in learning more about helping children and he would know more about how to help them. I should mention, of course, that I had taken about eighteen hours of work at the College of William and Mary in this field of counseling. I had occasionally taught classes. One of the prize classes was on the Eastern Shore of Virginia where we had been discussing how you go about helping a person make up his mind about something. We would say you study your own abilities, your assets and your liabilities, your interests and measure them. Then you sit down and get the pros and cons with reference to any decision. Well, before we got through one lady who had been going with a gentleman for 19 years had married him. Maybe we were useful at least in one instance.

Q: In 1952 you joined the Portsmouth school system as the Director of Guidance. Could you give me some information about this job and the experiences you had in it?

Bell: The Superintendent of Portsmouth at the time I went over was Alf Mapp Sr. Mapp had been one of the people who had cooperated with us when he was Assistant Principal of Woodrow Wilson High School, so we had worked with him in this way. When he had problems with children and he wanted help, we would say, "Mr. Mapp, you just give us your story of your experiences with this person; what you have talked about. If we can help with tests or if we can help by added discussion, we will do it."

In that way worked as a cooperative venture, really, and Mr. Mapp was so impressed with the possibilities of it that when the State decided that they were going in for more testing instead of counseling, which I have always regretted, because I think the figures are useless and don't really tell a good story. They could have told a better story, but there are many things that prevented that. Mr. Mapp invited me to come over and direct the promotion of guidance activities in his schools.

Wherever we found a child or a person who needed help we would first try to make a careful study of that person. Before we drew any conclusions we liked to study the person carefully and hear from him; hear his story. If tests were indicated, we would give him that. Dexter-Bellevue or what not, in which I have more confidence than in most of the tests that were used. So we would talk once we had gauged the child's interests. We would let him talk to us freely after we had measured the best we could with tests that were available, his interests and capabilities. We would then discuss it with the teacher, the parents, the pupil and think together about how to implement any suggestions. Well, that was what we really were trying to do and I think we managed to do fairly well.

Q: In 1957 you accepted the post of Assistant Professor of Counseling at the College of William and Mary in Norfolk. Why did you leave the Portsmouth school system and I wondered also if Lewis Webb played any role in your coming to the College?

Bell: Oh yes, I would say that Lewis Webb played a part in my coming, and I would also say that Vernon Peele did too, Dean Peele. The two of these men I had talked with often. I want to say that I was also interested in the job that Mrs. Henry was doing at the time. I'll say Mrs. Buddy Henry. I first knew her as Miss Simco when she was a very capable lady and doing an awfully good job and had a fine approach to both men and women and was very patient and understanding I thought. So I was interested in carrying on that sort of work and I had many cases to deal with in college. I began to feel that the most enjoyable and profitable kind of work, particularly the work of encouraging sound guidance practices, would come with reaching future teachers.

My experience with teachers on the job had given me a great deal of practical material to think about and to use in such courses as I might be able to give. So the whole point was that of continuing what had been my original purpose in coming to Norfolk, to develop sound counseling principles.

Q: Could you describe your job at college as you viewed it in the Fall of 1957?

Bell: Well, in 1957, that's a long time ago; I've almost forgotten. We didn't have so many students, so many entering students that we couldn't see them all. So we set about interviewing every entering student if possible. We missed a few but we tried not to miss anybody. The purpose was to discuss with this student his aims and help him think about his capabilities and his interests and to evaluate them and make a good choice of subjects. We also felt that we could help him get an understanding of college and furthermore to meet the men in the various departments.

Now the counseling office would help a student arrange his schedule, subject to acceptance or approval, if they chose to seek it, of the department which he was to enter. If there was a member of that department around, we would normally refer the student immediately to the department once we had determined his objective and his promise or his capabilities in the field. I must say the cooperation of these departments was splendid. We have men now, Dr. John Tabb and Professor Adams and there are others, particularly in Engineering. There was Dean White who just retired, and was very helpful in that respect. There were others, I'm sure, who I could mention. I would hate to omit any, but I can't recall them just for the moment. They would always help us with the student and see that he got started in the field of his choice.

The curriculum was such that a student need not go far wrong, or be afraid of going far wrong if he took a certain number of basic courses. And yet there were other courses which needed him to begin immediately if he were going to get through in the prescribed four year curriculum.

We still continued this idea of letting the student decide on the basis of whatever help he could get from us. Now you can never really measure what you've done for people, and you don't need to. And I don't want to. I like to forget that I was involved in any way except to help the person get his own thinking cleared. So, we would get him started in the right way and trust him to come back if he wanted to.

We did do some vocational counseling that is, choice of vocations when people had no idea what they wanted to do. We never insisted upon that, because it's a decision you can't really force. You can encourage and help supply them with information about jobs. Some of the finest publications have been gotten out by the government on this point. To help analyze a job or a profession by telling you what qualifications are needed, what training is needed, and where you can get the training. Also, what the pay is and what satisfaction you can get probably. Those things were very helpful to many people, so we would always encourage people to read that. It was pretty difficult to get them to do it, though.

Q: You also taught classes in guidance in the Education Department. I wonder, was this a half-time assignment?

Bell: No, it was not half-time. Whenever we needed people to do a job in those days, we sort of asked him to do it. We weren't thinking too much about being overworked, although perhaps we aren't any better than anybody else; we just hadn't thought about it. Furthermore, they needed to get the school off the ground. We were under the College of William and Mary and William and Mary would accept our budget and cut a certain percentage off of that and include the rest of it in their own budget, since we came under them. It went to Richmond and you were always sure at that time that anybody's budget would be cut 10%. So they would up it 10% and get what they wanted really by getting the cut.

Mr. Webb used to say, "When you cut nothing 10%, you've still got nothing." We were often in that place of having nothing to start with - no experience or background or history of need of this thing, were just beginning. So ours would be a totally new request.

Everybody, I think, at the time was impressed with the professors who were here. Every one of them that I ever knew was a pretty dedicated fellow and didn't mind very much being overworked. I don't say that's admirable, I say that's a condition that prevailed when I came here and I like to join them on that basis. I appreciated the chance to get in. I don't exactly know how it came about that I got in, it's pretty hazy. I was talking about it with Dean Peele and first thing I knew, I was here.

Q: That is, you were talking about the job or about the courses?

Bell: Oh, I forgot to mention the courses, didn't I? The courses that I taught were just when people needed me. I taught them when the department needed me. Sometimes we would get a little extra pay. Often we would get a little extra pay for teaching in the extension work done here. I should have mentioned something else, that is, what we did. Part of my job, I thought, was to encourage contacts with groups like the Ford factory and the Staff College. We had worked up some pretty good relations with them, so on many occasions either I or someone else would visit the plant and interview the men there, find out what they wanted, and how they had to go about it. Then we would bring that result back and we turned his request over perhaps to the School of Business, or maybe to the Department of History, or Engineering for further study. Then, we would go back with that to the men, because many of them could not come out to the college during the day, but they could come out at night.

The men they wanted to see were seldom on hand at night, or available in any case so in that way we were able to establish a relationship that was growing quite strong. At one time I think we had forty some people from the Ford plant taking courses here, out of a student body of 1500 to 2000. Then at the Staff College we always had quite a number and I used to enjoy going out there a great deal.

Q: I was wondering what kinds of problems the students came to you with in the late 1950's and early '60's or if you found that they were reluctant in those days to seek out help.

Bell: When a student comes to you for help, he doesn't always name the obvious point on which he needs help. They come because they need help and they need a chance to discuss it. Now, I felt that nobody in the Counseling Office as such should judge himself competent to handle emotional problems of a serious nature. They came with problems of that sort often, but we managed to get them to their family physician, to their family, or in some way get them in contact with people who could help. We were dealing with the essentially normal people who had the difficulty of arriving at decisions. Not that we turned the others away, but we would direct them as gently as possible to the proper source of help.

The kinds of problems that came to us were of all sorts -- some people who were very seriously disturbed; and others who were a little disturbed, but seemed to get much better once they could get directed. Then, I think many things we call "emotional problems" often disappear. However, when an emotional disturbance was such that it interfered with his proper performance, we did not claim and did not try to be proficient in that field. We did not abruptly end any contact with a person, but we simply did not claim to be proficient and did not act as such.

Q: Did you refer them to professional psychiatrists?

Bell: Yes, we frequently did. We cooperated with psychiatrists very frequently from the Naval Hospital. The psychiatrists there would bring a person to a certain point in their treatment where he could feel that they would profit by vocational counseling and information about that sort of thing. We would work with that group and exchange ideas about the person. Some private psychiatrists worked the same way with us here in the city. The beginnings of psychiatry, as generally accepted, were just being made at that time. It wasn't easy to get people to accept psychiatric help. But we did cooperate with the Veterans Administration and with any other agency that was working with people, particularly the veterans.

Q: How did you go about making your services more widely known among the students. You say you met them at the first and then was it up to the student to take the initiative to ever see you again, or did you see him in his second, third, or senior year?

Bell: We always tried to offer our services or make ourselves available, but always felt that a student should come to us after that, when he felt like it. Now, faculty would often refer people to us. Other students would refer people to us. We were generally pretty busy. We didn't have staff enough to do very much advertising. We didn't need to because we were always busy. But I think the referral from other students or other people was one of the biggest means of getting them to come in after that. We liked to work with faculty members.

We would not want to say, "We will take him and get a solution and bring him back to you with a solution." Rather, "We will work out a solution together on the basis of what we can find out and on the basis of what you know." That was the thing I think the faculty seemed to accept. The thing I do regret is that we didn't make a greater effort to push for an extension of the services. Most of the time we were so busy, we didn't have time to think and we knew there wasn't money, too.

I was a bit shocked at one of these men who came in with a consultant firm to talk to me about my office. He knew nothing when he came and he didn't take time to learn anything while he was there. I'm afraid that these firms had not thought in the terms that we needed to of the interpersonal relationships that needed to be developed at an institution. I still think that that has not been done at most places. It isn't that you "milk feed" (as they used to say) these people, but you want to understand them. It seems to me the primary importance is to understand.

Q: It just occured to me. What extent of a staff did you have and physically where were you located on campus?

Bell: Well, we had only two counselors, although we used others. We had two full time counselors, but we used other people in the counseling at various times. We could always count on other members of the staff to help us in need and we often did that. We referred people to them.

The location was in the Administration Building, on the north end of the Administration Building at first. We later moved to the South. We were quite near always to the Admissions Office. We felt we cooperated well because we had the records and we could exchange information there so easily. We ended up in many other things that were not part of counseling, but we always did college board tests and we administered all of those and any kind of entrance examinations and things of that sort.

Q: We talked about the personal counseling and psychological counseling. We've even gone to a point on vocational counseling. I wonder how your work related to the work done by Mrs. Lippincott in the Placement Office, or if you consider your duties to be quite different.

Bell: I think we were not doing exactly the same thing. Mrs. Lippincott, of course, was getting information and giving people the chance to contact the world of business, and we were trying to help them study themselves. Our responsibility was to the individual himself. After he had done that, he was ready then to go into the choice of a career. That's oversimplifying it, but it's, I think, the way it should have worked.

Q: You say that you made up their schedules in the first year. After that was it the responsibility of the faculty member in their major departments to make up their schedule?

Bell: Normally they had to have the approval of the department before they could proceed in the field at the end of the second year anyway. We always tried to encourage them to consult with a member of the department in which they were mainly interested to see that they were following a safe course. Often it happened but sometimes it didn't happen, you just simply couldn't cover the field. You can't make people do it, but we were always ready to help and did do it, and I think so were the faculty ready to help.

Q: Getting back to the question about the student making his own decisions, what about the student who simply sat there and didn't make the decision and didn't seem inclined, and wanted the counselor to make the decision for him? What did you do with that student?

Bell: As gently as possible, we refused to make the decision. I would try to help him by thinking and talking and developing something of a sense of responsibility. There aren't too many people who don't want to make decisions. They would like you to make a decision when they want somebody to be responsible for a wrong decision. But if you try to make a person's decision, you have much greater kickback than you want to put up with. I think most people resent being told as if they were automatons. What we did with them, was we just stuck with them as long as we could.

Q: I was wondering how you rated the effectiveness of standardized tests as many people have criticized them a great deal in recent years.

Bell: I'm inclined to criticize the misuse of standardized tests. Standardized tests are at best a sampling process in the performance of functions whether it be verbal or manipulative, that come about in the experience of a person and you measure his relative efficiency or his performance. Now that doesn't mean that you really measure the individual well, but you have an aid. The person who does well on standardized tests can be sure that he has something worthwhile in the field of measurement. When you measure intelligence, for instance, we used to think that we had a single I.Q. that occasionally became quite important. For instance, the areas of intelligence, mathematical reasoning, let's say, verbal fluency and artistic, or let's say the measurement of spatial visualization are tested and we can get some help. The danger is, we have too many conclusions from them. The next reason that the tests aren't often good is that they're improperly administered. If a test is administered, it must be administered under the conditions prescribed. The directions must be carefully followed for them to mean anything. I found that in visiting the eighteen school divisions, they were doing almost everything with the tests.

They were being honest, but they just didn't think, for instance, that four minutes was enough to master a certain portion of a test; they were giving ten. What they didn't know and hadn't been trained in, was the meaning of tests and the utilization of tests. Nobody is expected to answer everything on a test. That's not the measurement you're looking for. You're looking for relative performance actually and that is "How do I stand alongside my fellows?" Now that is the reason I was critical of the state tests because I have helped administer those things, and helped train people to give them and then find out they weren't abiding by them at all. First thing you know a teacher would be teaching the test, and quite often, too. We had to give up one of our high school equivalency tests some years ago because there were groups of people who never should have been doing it. They had access to the test and then could use them. So when we found out people were making 100 on tests, we found out they were being misused. That is, answering 100 questions out of 100. That just wasn't intended by the test. So you had all sorts of abuses that have made tests not always reliable. You have to know who is the testing person and how it is administered. Also, how it is used and how it's interpreted before you can be sure that a test is very much help. Even then, it is only partial; only one portion of a picture that you are trying to get. I think we could get along without any tests at all and do good counseling. I mean relatively good counseling. It's always better to have some information.

Q: I was wondering what changes in the students and their counseling needs you observed during the mid 1960's when the Vietnam War was on and there was general unrest in the country.

Bell: I think I met some of the spirit that was often manifested in soldiers who were at the front: "What's the use of thinking about the future? There's no future assured me."

Of course there never is any future really assured you, but the future was relatively vague and uncertain and unpromising. So, I don't think the students were any less sincere but they were puzzled and rightly so. It was a puzzling situation. We don't yet know what was the value of Vietnam, let's say, and that's what was puzzling. When you put your life up to defend something, you want to be sure that it's a good cause. To be threatened with having to put your life on the line for no very good cause, in your mind, whether it was or not, I won't judge, but that was their attitude. "Was it worth it?" And what to do as a consequence. How were they to do something different so they didn't have to go through that, was always present with them.

Yet I think a great many people were doing some pretty sound thinking. I wasn't particularly shocked at any change. I'm never much shocked at what people do because you can expect almost anything from any of us sometime. And you just have to be prepared for shocks. This discouragement was, to me, rather painful; I didn't like to see it.

Q: Could you relate the story of how you were instrumental in Old Dominion College's receiving a collection of bones and skins of animals native to Burma from Herbert Cecil Smith, the British ornithologist and naturalist?

Bell: Mr. Smith is a friend of ours through our son and his wife. My son married an English girl and we made the acquaintance of Mr. and Mrs. Smith in 1959 when we went to my son's wedding in England. We were guests of the Smiths in a fine old manor, a manorial residence, that they had bought when they came back. It was in the Wythe valley and being situated on the side of a hill, it had several plateaus, I mean stages as you went up. Every little nook and cranny had some kind of flower in it because both of these people loved nature, and Mr. and Mrs. Smith both loved it. It was in a beautiful spot and still is to this day, although they don't live there. They gave it up for a smaller place because he's grown too old to take care of it, and getting somebody who could do it was difficult for them.

When we learned that he was moving from this big house of about thirty or forty rooms, I've forgotten which it is, we discussed the matter and our son had discussed it with him: what was he going to do with these trophies that he had? In Burma he had been the man who planned hunts for all of the "grandees" from England who had come over to go hunting. He would always plan it for them, go along with them and had done some hunting himself. So these trophies were things that he had collected over the years. He was very fond of looking for the birds of Burma. He has a book on the birds of Burma and he had other magnificent, apparently, pictures that he had drawn of these birds and painted. When the war came he had thirty hours to get out. He had to leave some things behind. One of the things was these, I believe they were plates; they had been made into plates. The Japanese took those to Japan and when the first American bombers went over to Japan, they bombed the building in which these things were stored, and they were destroyed. So the poor fellow, had really spent these years; he had everything ready to do some writing and he's done some of it, but most of his material was destroyed in that one direct hit by an American bomb on the building in which these things had been stored.

He had to get rid of these because he had no space where he lives in the cottage. A nice, beautiful little spot along a hillside there in the Wythe Valley. He has some there, but very few. He offered them to the University and Mr. Webb found $500 which we spent in getting them over here and placed in charge of the Biology Department. Dr. Zaneveld was then chairman of the department and said that they would welcome them. He has spent some time too, you know, in the East Indies, in Dutch East Indies. So he welcomed them as a reminder of his life out there, too, I suppose. That's the way we came to get them and that picture I gave you of them is of Mr. and Mrs. Smith when they were youngsters out there enjoying themselves.

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