San Diego State University (SDSU) is planning to rename two of its buildings, the West Commons and East Commons buildings, after SDSU notable figures, veteran astronaut Dr. Ellen Ochoa and mathematician Dr. Charles B. Bell Jr.
Each building name is to stay for at least 15 years.
Ochoa will be honored via the renaming of the West Commons into Ellen Ochoa Pavilion. She is scheduled to attend the May 5 dedication ceremony.
In 1993, the optics researcher and NASA astronaut became the first Latina in space. She then went on to fly on four shuttle missions, have more than 978 hours in orbit, and be on the first shuttle flight to dock with the International Space Station. Ochoa was also the first Hispanic director and second female leader of the Johnson Space Center.
“As a Latina, a scientist and a leader, Ellen is a pioneer who has made incredible contributions to her field, our university, and young minds around the world,” saud SDSU President Dr. Adela de la Torre. “The Ellen Ochoa Pavilion will serve as a physical reminder for students of all backgrounds to break through barriers and ‘reach for the stars.’ SDSU is so proud to honor her as an alumna.”
Bell will be celebrated through the renaming of the East Commons into the Charles B. Bell Jr. Pavilion. Bell was the second Black faculty member of San Diego State College (SDSC) and the first Black faculty member to achieve tenure. He was also the first Black student University of Notre Dame to earn both master’s and doctoral degrees.
Previously a research engineer at the Douglas Aircraft Company, the mathematician then taught at schools including Xavier University, Stanford University, SDSC, Case Western Reserve University, the University of Michigan, Tulane University, and the University of Washington.
Outside of the U.S., he also visited the Mathematics Institute in Amsterdam, the University of Madrid, the University of Vienna, the Institute of Statistics at the University of Paris, the University of Erlangen in Germany, the Mathematics Conference in Moscow, the Indian Statistical Institute, and the University of Ife.
Bell died in 2010. His wife, Mary Bell, will attend the Apr. 3 dedication ceremony with three of their children and additional family.
“For hundreds of students in the late 1950s and early 1960s, Charles Bell was the first Black professor they ever saw,” said Dr. J. Luke Wood, SDSU vice president for student affairs and campus diversity. “His position in the front of the classroom sent a powerful statement to students of all races, and he served as a role model in his career as one of the preeminent Black mathematicians of his time.”