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Portrait of Clara Bell Sessions

Link to section 'Clara Bell Sessions' of 'Biography of Clara Bell Sessions' Clara Bell Sessions

Clara Bell Sessions was a nursing professor and director of continuing education in nursing at Purdue University. While at Purdue, she helped establish the Minority Student Nurses' Association (MSNA) and Minority Faculty Fellows program. Bell attended Indiana State University where she earned her bachelor of science in nursing, followed by Indiana University where she earned her master's and doctoral degrees in their School of Education.

In 1981, Purdue University hired Bell as a professor of nursing and she later became the director of continuing education in nursing. Bell was dedicated to improving the experience for minority students and faculty at Purdue. She was integral in the creation of the Minority Student Nurses' Association (MSNA), now Diversity in Nursing Association, and the Minority Faculty Fellows program, the precursor of the Office of Diversity and Multicultural Affairs.

Bell was also active in national organizations. In 1992 and 1993, she co-chaired the National Congress of Black Faculty Council on Research and Education, served as a cabinet member on the Human Rights Committee of the American Nurses Association, and was a charter member of the Association of Black Nursing Faculty in Higher Education. She earned numerous service awards for her work, including service awards from the Indiana Diabetes Association, Indiana State Nurses Association's board of directors, Delta Omicron Chapter of the Nursing Honor Society of Sigma Theta Tau, and Indiana Department of Aging and Community Services.

Clara Bell Sessions died on March 3, 1996 in Terre Haute, Indiana. After her death, the Black Caucus of Faculty and Staff created the annual Clara E. Bell Academic Achievement Award for the senior in nursing or health sciences with the highest grade point average. In 2013, she was posthumously awarded the Title IX Distinguished Service Award for her contributions to gender equity in education.

Link to section 'Citations' of 'Biography of Clara Bell Sessions' Citations

Archives and Special Collections. (2020, July 28). Bell, Clara E., 1934-. Purdue University. Retrieved from:

Klink, A. (2020, February 4). Clara E. Bell was a trailblazing African American professor of nursing. Purdue University. Retrieved from:

Lythgoe, D. (2001-2020). Clara E. Stewart. The Lost Creek Settlement of Vigo County, Indiana. Retrieved from:

Purdue Today. (2013, April 19). Purdue Today presenting profiles on Title IX service awardees. Purdue University. Retrieved from:


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