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About Dr. Dean P. Bell

About Dr. Dean P. Bell

Dr. Dean P. BellDr. Dean P. Bell took the reigns as the 9th President and CEO of Spertus Institute for Jewish Learning and Leadership on July 1, 2018, following four years as Provost and Vice President. He previously served as Dean and Chief Academic Officer, a role he filled for many of the 23 years he has worked with Spertus Institute. He has overseen all of Spertus Institute’s programmatic areas as well as institutional development, finance, operations, and marketing.

The programmatic areas include Spertus Institute’s lauded, long-running graduate program in Jewish Studies, which serves Master's and Doctoral students in 26 US states and six foreign countries, and the Center for Jewish Leadership, an increasingly essential endeavor dedicated to enhancing innovation and leadership for those who serve Jewish organizations as professionals and volunteers. The Center for Jewish Leadership serves students and participants in the US, Canada, and Israel. Local offerings encompass educational programs and events for members of the public including the range of high-quality cultural programming that Spertus presents in Chicago and the suburbs, as well as the stewardship, research, and display of Spertus Institute’s collections. In addition, Spertus has played a significant role in the Chicago Adult Jewish Learning Initiative, which has garnered important national recognition.

A leading voice for the advancement of Jewish higher education, Dr. Bell has served as President, Vice-President, and Secretary-Treasurer of the Midwest Jewish Studies Association and has been a member of the Board of Directors of the Association for Jewish Studies.

Dr. Bell received his BA from the University of Chicago and his MA and PhD from the University of California, Berkeley. In addition to his administrative role, Dr. Bell holds a Spertus Institute faculty appointment as Professor of History. He has also served on the faculty at DePaul University, Northwestern University, Hebrew Theological College, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and the University of California, Berkeley.

Widely published as a scholar and historian, he is the author of Sacred Communities: Jewish and Christian Identities in Fifteenth-Century Germany, Jews in the Early Modern World and Jewish Identity in Early Modern Germany. With Stephen Burnett, he co-edited Jews, Judaism, and the Reformation in Sixteenth-Century Germany, a publication that has helped to shape the field. Contributing to the fields of Jewish History and Jewish Studies, Bell is also editor of The Routledge Companion to Jewish History and Historiography and The Bloomsbury Companion to Jewish Studies. His current research focuses on early modern cultural responses to natural disasters, a topic with a great deal of relevance for today. He has lectured on these topics and others at numerous universities and academic institutes across North America, Europe, and Israel. Local institutions at which Dr. Bell has presented include the Chicago Humanities Festival and the Newberry Library Lecture Series.

Dr. Bell regularly expresses his desire to make Spertus Institute the flagship organization for modern Jewish leadership training and Jewish communal service. “The programs we offer blend theory and practice to enhance the knowledge, effectiveness, creativity, and professional agility of the current and next generation of Jewish leaders,” says Dr. Bell. “I am committed to empowering the work of our community’s Jewish professionals, because I believe it is through their leadership that we can enhance the vibrancy and sustainability of the organizations and communities they serve.”

Monday, May 8, 2017

"Dean Bell has repeatedly proven himself to be both a brilliant scholar and a talented executive — a rare combination that beautifully mirrors Spertus Institute’s commitment to learning and leadership.”

— Spertus President and
CEO Dr. Hal M. Lewis


About Spertus Institute 

Spertus Institute for Jewish Learning and Leadership offers dynamic learning opportunities, rooted in Jewish wisdom and culture and open to all. Graduate programs and workshops train future leaders and engage individuals in exploration of Jewish life. Public programs — including films, speakers, seminars, and concerts — take place at the Institute's Michigan Avenue facility, in the Chicago suburbs, and online. 

Spertus Institute is a partner in serving the community, supported by the Jewish United Fund/Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Chicago.