LU News Archive

Mary Katherine Bell Regents Scholarship established

The Lamar University Foundation has announced the establishment of a new endowed scholarship. The Mary Katherine Bell Regents Scholarship will provide funding for all full-time students majoring in mathematics. The scholarship was originally established by Karen and Phillip Drayer in memory of Mary Katherine Bell, who died in June 2002.

Mary Katherine Bell was born in 1909, in Pensacola, Florida. She was a graduate of Florida State College for Women (now Florida State University) and received her master’s degree in mathematics from the University of Cincinnati, Ohio. She married Clarence R. Bell in August 1937, before moving to Beaumont.

After teaching in the Beaumont Independent School District, she became an associate professor of mathematics at Lamar University and retired in 1970. She returned for another 10 years to chair the mathematics department.

“Throughout my career, I have talked with many successful people who have all shared stories with me of one or two teachers who made an enormous difference in their lives, as Mary Katherine did in mine,” said Phil Drayer. “For this reason, I honor her memory with this scholarship.”

Recognized as a Lamar University Distinguished Alumnus in 2006, Drayer, who graduated from Lamar in 1967 with a degree in electrical engineering, serves and supports Lamar University in many leadership roles with the College of Engineering Advisory Council and Lamar University Foundation.

“I was less than a stellar student in high school but I attribute much of my success to Mary Katherine who stuck her neck out for me in eighth grade,” Drayer said. “She intervened on my behalf and signed me up for an advanced math class. I earned my first ‘B’ in that class and my other grades began to improve as well.”

Drayer went on to graduate from Beaumont High School and upon entering Lamar University, he immediately signed up for Calculus 1 as he had decided to pursue electrical engineering. “I walked into my first class to find that once again, Mrs. Bell would be my instructor until the day I graduate,” Drayer said.

Drayer holds a Bachelor of Science in electrical engineering from Lamar University and a Juris Doctorate from South Texas College of Law. He began his career in 1967 with Teledyne Systems in Los Angeles, Calif., designing avionics systems. As a distinguished engineer, businessman, entrepreneur and attorney, he was employed by Texas Instruments as a Metal Oxide Semiconductor (MOS) design engineer and became the manufacturing engineering manager of the division, taking the first MOS circuit to volume production.

From 1980 to 1990, he was president and chief executive officer of EPI Technologies, a semiconductor testing company working for TI, Motorola, Fairchild and the Department of Energy, among others. “I always wanted to start my own company, and I felt that my technical education and experience, coupled with a legal education, would provide me a unique background,” Drayer said.

He then formed TelCom Semiconductor. The company was fabricating reliable products for cellular phones, personal computers and other consumer products. He sold the company in 2000 and began to work as president and CEO of Kalydus Equity Research Partners, providing equity research to Wall Street Investments Firms and the Bank of America.

In 2005, Drayer was selected to be on the executive committee of Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s Emerging Technology Fund. He served on the boards of the World Affairs Council in Dallas, the Heritage Foundation and the Dallas Symphony Orchestra. He is a member of the Texas Bar Association and lives with his wife, Karen, in Dallas.

Drayer knows how to make a positive impact in business and in life. “I can tell you that there was a great sense of excitement within the department when we learned of this wonderful endowment,” said Mary Wilkinson, chair of the mathematics department.

For more information about establishing an endowed scholarship, contact the Lamar University Foundation at (409) 880-2117.