Indiana University Bloomington

Wells with Bell and Globe


  1. favorable, appropriate, or advantageous combination of circumstances relating to learning
  2. chance or prospect of acquiring knowledge, skills, or information


Wells had a basic educational philosophy that was reminiscent of Ezra Cornell’s famous 19th century statement, “I would found an institution where any person can find instruction in any study.” Fervently believing in the liberating power of education, Wells had a messianic faith in learning for individual achievement and social beneficence. He strove to maximize accessibility but not at the expense of lowering academic standards. He took seriously IU’s obligation to educate the state’s citizens, as he expanded the flagship campus of Bloomington, extended urban and regional centers, and supported life-long learning opportunities around Indiana. As a Big Ten president, Wells spearheaded the development of the CIC (Committee on Institutional Cooperation) in the 1950s to provide opportunities for cooperation and shared programs among member institutions. On the national stage, Wells served the American Council on Education, the National Education Association, and the National Association of State Universities as a leader, energetically pursuing educational reforms and enlightened policies. He lent his wisdom and experience to nurture the International Association of Universities, to cultivate the global sisterhood of universities.