- MA / 65 , LLD / 84
For six decades, former Carleton professor Ruth Bell was an ardent supporter of many causes, both at her alma mater and in the public sphere. Her dedication to advancing women’s rights, education and an understanding of Canada’s political system made a tremendous contribution to generations of students.
Bell pursued her first degree through five universities, three countries, two continents and 10 years. “For me, higher education and training is essential—it opens new vistas, and presents you with opportunity. Education presents you with a whole new world to enjoy,” said Bell.
One of the initial members of the National Action Committee on the Status of Women, Bell was a founder of both the Canadian Commission for Learning Opportunities for Women and the Canadian Research Institute for the Advancement of Women. Her fight for women’s rights are documented in her autobiography, Be a Nice Girl.
In recognition of her tireless efforts for the advancement of women’s rights, Bell received the Governor General’s Person Award and the Award for Lifetime Achievement from the YMCA-YWCA Women of Distinction. She also received the Order of Canada in 1981. Bell was presented with the 2008 Founders Award, Carleton’s highest non-academic honour, for her strong and enduring commitment to the university.
In 2007, she established the Dick and Ruth Bell Chair for the Study of Canadian Parliamentary Democracy to honour her husband’s distinguished political career.