A champion for student success: Norman Bellard retires after 22 years at LU



For those in the Southeast Texas area, when you hear the name Noman Bellard, you also think ‘Star athlete at Lamar University. A true champion.’ For 22 years, Bellard has carried the torch for student success and remained laser-focused on being a team player.
Now, upon his retirement as interim vice president for the Division of Diversity, Inclusion and Community Relations, Bellard reflects back on his more than two decades at LU and his most memorable moments.
His history at LU goes back to 1974 when the Louisiana native, a star basketball athlete in high school, garnered the attention of then LU head basketball coach Jack Martin.
“I’m a first-generation college student and I came to LU on a basketball scholarship and Jack Martin recruited me out of high school. I signed with LU, Jack retired after my sophomore year and then Billy Tubbs came in to replace him. I’ll never forget it because that was around the time when I started losing my hair,” he said jokingly.
Bellard played point guard from 1975 to 1979 as was a part of one of the most success runs in basketball  history at LU. Under the director of Billy Tubbs, the LU men’s basketball team remained undefeated as the No. 5 highest scoring team in the nation, averaging more than 90 points a game. It was like a dream –– but, Bellard recalled one magic moment as a student-athlete that he will forever remember. norman-bellard-yearbook-photo
“We won the Southland Conference championship my junior year, and again my senior year, and that was the first year that the NCAA granted an automatic bid to the playoff tournaments,” he said. “So, we traveled to Murfreesboro, Tennessee, to play against the No. 17 highest scoring team in the nation, which was the University of Detroit.”
It was a Friday night when the LU Cardinals went head-to-head with the Titans, beating the team 95 to 87. Bellard said it was an easy victory, but the battle on the court with Michigan was far from over. 
“We were a very, very, confident team and we took on the personality of our coach Billy Tubbs,” he said. “We had just sent Detroit home … bring on Michigan State University.”
That Sunday afternoon, the Cardinals showed up ready for tip-off with the Spartans, but there was one player on the opposing team that raised a few eyebrows.
“We knew nothing about Michigan State, though we were not intimidated. We also had not heard anything about their point guard,” he said. “But that point guard was 6-foot 9-inches (tall) and, you won’t believe this, but it was Earvin ‘Magic’ Johnson.”
With a star player on the opposing team, the Cardinals pressed the Spartans up and down the court, but to no avail. The game ended with LU suffering a heartbreaking loss.
“We lost that game and that was the year that Michigan State went on to win the championship against Larry Bird and Indiana State. We had no idea of the magnitude and history of this game or playing against ‘Magic’ Johnson,” Bellard said. “You know, a lot of people ask me about my experience playing against ‘Magic’ and all I can say is he’s just a winner. He’s a winner who had an understanding of the game and I can say that I played my last collegiate game against ‘Magic’ Johnson.”
Once the season ended, as an accounting major, Bellard set his sights on his future after graduation.
“As a student-athlete, I typically took on at least 15 hours a semester, sometimes 18. It was hard, but I had great professors here at LU that helped me along my journey and made sure that my college experience was fruitful,” he said.
After attending a few career fairs on campus, he landed a job with the Big Four accounting firm Deloitte, but six months later, he found himself back in Southeast Texas where he worked for Conn’s Appliances for the next 12 years as the company’s chief financial officer.
“When I played basketball in the 1970s, Dr. Jimmy Simmons was the band director. He and I go way back especially since he and Billy Tubbs were very close,” he said. “When Jimmy was appointed to president in ’99, he and I had a meeting the following year and he ultimately recruited me to come back to LU in Student Affairs because of my background in business.”
Bellard started out as the assistant vice president of Student Affairs while also being tabbed with serving as the judicial officer.
“In July of 2000, I think we had about 7,800 students. It was a great time to be at Lamar University — to experience the growth in residential students, as well as overall student enrollment,” he said. “But what I feel the best about is being able to assist students in getting what they came for and that’s the opportunity to ultimately walk across the stage with their degrees.”


'Mr. Bellard has been a constant mentor and family friend for nearly 20 years, always providing his unwavering support. He recognized my potential, never accepted less than my best and empowered me to work towards what could be rather than what is.'

- Ashley Spicer-Runnels '07, '13

Bellard quickly moved up to associate vice president and then senior associate vice president for the Department of Student Affairs. Throughout his tenure at LU, he continued to work in the community serving as a mentor and volunteer basketball coach at the L.L. Melton YMCA. He also served on the Salvation Army and Boys and Girls Club board and served as chairman of the Melton board. In 2003, he was named a Distinguished Alumni, the highest awards presented by Lamar University to its alumni.

“Once Jimmy retired in 2013, Dr. Ken Evans came in and appointed me as assistant to the president for community relations and athletics liaison,” he said. “Now, when President Taylor came in last year, he asked me about serving as interim vice president for the Division for Diversity, Inclusion and Community Relations.”
Hamshire-Fannett Cardinal NEST
Cardinal NEST ribbon cutting at Hamshire-Fannett
As vice president for the division, Bellard played a key role in building partnerships with local school districts including the establishment of 12 Cardinal NESTS ­­–– Navigating Excellence, Success and Triumph –– in local Beaumont Independent School District schools.
“It's always been about student success. Even when I was coaching at the YMCA and Salvation Army, the goal has always been to give back to those youngsters what I received from coaches growing up,” he said. “It's always about trying to uplift people.”
While he has officially retired from his role as interim vice president for the Division of Diversity, Inclusion and Community Relations, Bellard will remain on staff part-time to assist with the division as LU alum Dr. Freddie Titus '83, '86, takes his place.
“I don't know of many people that know this campus better than Dr. Freddie Titus. I don't know many people that has the relationships and respect of the LU student body. So, I feel very good about the future of that division and what Freddie will put his own stamp on to take this to the next level,” he said. “As for me, I’m only a few days into my retirement, but as I look back on 22 years at Lamar University, it surely has been more good than not and I’m proud to have been a part of a winning team all these years.”