NORMAN — Longtime University of Oklahoma donor Austin Bell was honored Friday as a member of OU's Seed Sower Society, which recognizes donors of $1 million or more.
Bell, who hails from Little Rock, Ark., was awarded a Seed Sower statue created by sculptor and OU artist-in-residence Paul Moore. A 1957 OU graduate, Bell has given more than $1 million to the athletics department and has participated in four capital campaigns.
Bell makes an annual visit to the Sooner Club on the Friday before the spring football game, and on this year's visit he was surprised with a ceremony to honor his contributions.
"I'm not doing this for any other reason than personal satisfaction," Bell explained. "Recognition isn't my reason to do it. Being honored for doing this is not what I seek. I do it because it's something I enjoy. My family enjoys it and it becomes kind of a family reunion during football games because we all get together. We're able to give to something we truly enjoy and are excited about. Today was most unexpected to receive this kind of honor. We appreciate it, but we know there are a lot of other people who feel the same way about this university."
The Seed Sower name was selected for this society because, like the university's first president, David Ross Boyd, these donors have played an extraordinary role in planting seeds of excellence at OU. The society was established in 2000 at the conclusion of OU's Reach for Excellence Campaign, which raised $514 million in private gifts.
Bell, who began coming to Oklahoma football games as a teenager, said that his contributions stem from a life-long passion for the Sooners.
"The entire athletics program has really begun to blossom, and it was something that was good and the passion we had as fans has really come out in our support over the years. We wanted to be part of something that was doing good for the community and the state and for all the graduates of the university. It's just been a feeling of pride I've had ever since I was a teenager."