Indiana University Bloomington

He was not one to be ignored

Susan Davis

"Are you having a good day?" inquired this aging portly gentleman perched on the stone wall south of Beck Chapel. It was late in the fall of 1963, and I was a freshman at Indiana University returning to Read Center after several classes at Ballantine Hall. Question led to follow-up question. Were my classes going well? What did I just come from? Who was the teacher? How was that teacher doing? Did I have homework? Were the tests fair? What was I learning?

And I told him everything. He was not one to be ignored — or placated. After several minutes he released me from his spell and as I moved on and another took my place, I asked a passer-by who he was.

"Oh, that is Herman B Wells."

"Who is that?" I inquired.

"I don't know what his title is, but he runs this place," was the answer.

I have never in all my 55 years been approached by someone of such vast authority with such relevant questions and although I loved my education at IU, it wasn't until I was teaching writing at Montgomery College in Maryland that a colleague formerly from Indiana explained my experience was due in no small measure to his hand-picked faculty during the years I was fortunate enough to be educated here.

From Remembering Herman B Wells, 1901-2000:, March 24, 2000

Thanks to the Bloomington Herald-Times for allowing Digital Wells to publish these excerpts from their archive.