Orange Alert

Alumnus Kevin Bell ’74 Joins Strategic Planning Process as Consultant

Bell is president, CEO of Chicago's Lincoln Park Zoo

March 20, 2017, by Carol L. Boll

Kevin Bell '74
Kevin Bell '74

Work on the College of Arts and Sciences Strategic Plan has accelerated this semester, with the Steering Committee meeting recently with alumnus Kevin Bell ’74 to share with him the preliminary findings of the group’s three working groups. Bell, director/president and CEO of Lincoln Park Zoo in Chicago, has joined the planning team in an informal consulting capacity, agreeing to offer insights drawn from his own experiences with strategic planning.

Bell joined the effort on the invitation of Dean Karin Ruhlandt, who asked him to serve as Board of Visitors liaison to the strategic planning process because of his own track record of success in strategic planning at the Lincoln Park Zoo, the nation’s oldest and most-visited urban zoo. Established in 1868, Lincoln Park Zoo is one of few free-admission parks in the nation and hosts approximately 4 million visitors annually. Bell has served as director of the zoo since 1993 and as president and CEO since 1995. In that capacity he has raised funds and coordinated remodeling and improvements exceeding $200 million.

Karin Ruhlandt
Karin Ruhlandt

“We are extremely fortunate to have the opportunity to draw on the expertise and insight of somebody who not only is a deeply supportive alumnus of the college himself but who also has significant professional experience in the area of strategic planning,” says Dean Ruhlandt. “Kevin has supported the college and University in so many ways already, and I know he will be a tremendous asset at this critical juncture, as we strategize our role and reaffirm the vital importance of arts and sciences to the larger University and to all of its students.”

The Strategic Plan Steering Committee expects to have a draft plan completed by this fall. Toward that end, it is seeking bold ideas focusing on how best to:

• Articulate the identity of the college and its relationship with the Maxwell School
• Safeguard the liberal arts core
• Enhance educational excellence
• Foster inclusivity and diversity
• Invest in research and discovery

Dympna Callaghan
Dympna Callaghan

The planning process is focused on three overarching themes that align with key themes contained in the University’s institution-wide Academic Strategic Plan: educational excellence (focusing on the intellectual and educational mission of the college), discovery and research, and inclusivity. Three working groups, each focusing on one of those designated themes, have been meeting since last fall to collect data relating to their assigned focus area and formulate preliminary recommendations to incorporate into the final plan.

The Steering Committee is chaired by Dympna Callaghan, the William L. Safire Professor of Modern Letters in the Department of English, and about two dozen faculty, staff, and students have been involved in the planning process to date.

The Steering Committee also has set up an email account to solicit ideas and input from college faculty, staff, and students throughout the planning process. Persons interested in contributing relevant ideas, input, or feedback can send them via email to


Karin Ruhlandt Distinguished Professor

Dympna Callaghan William Safire Professor of Modern Letters and University Professor

Media Contact

Robert M Enslin