The women of the Erskine College Class of 2025 assembled in the Bowie Arts Center August 21 for the 98th annual Signing of the Book, a traditional event accompanied by a luncheon this year. The students recited the school’s honor pledge and added their signatures to those of generations of Erskine students.
Jeanne Neely Bell ’92, a longtime Erskine staff member whose family heritage includes several generations of Erskine graduates, was this year’s speaker. She characterized the signing of the book as “writing your name in the greater history of Erskine College” and challenged the women to “think of this ceremony as a commitment to being part of a greater whole.”
Bell said she spent summers in Due West visiting her grandparents, but as a young girl she was sure she would never enroll at Erskine. Then, while participating in a scholarship competition, she met some wonderful friends and professors and changed her mind. Once she came to campus as a student, “I loved it,” she said.
Citing the many opportunities to grow and develop community at Erskine, Bell urged the young women to enjoy their time in college and to nurture their faith, becoming women who “put others first.” She suggested that they might become “the best classmates, the best teammates” and noted that small actions can have great effects.
“Maybe you’ll work out those issues with your roommate in a compassionate way,” she said. “Maybe you’ll be the great encourager on your team even if you’re sitting on the bench.”
Bell, who went on to earn a master’s degree at Appalachian State University, is married to Paul Bell ’84, Erskine’s Vice President for Advancement and Alumni Relations. They are the parents of a son who is a freshman at Erskine and a daughter who is a junior in high school. She has taught sociology at Erskine as an adjunct professor, has directed the school’s Supplemental Instruction program for many years, and serves as executive assistant in the Advancement office.
Participants in the program included Vice President for Student Success Dr. Wendi Santee, who welcomed the students and gave a closing prayer; Mary Pratt, president of the Student Christian Association, who offered an opening prayer; Maddy Rogers, who led the honor pledge; Sadie Bradley, who led singing of the alma mater; and pianist Sam Tam. Lunch for the students was provided by Aramark.
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