Performance Excellence Makes an Excellent Performance

Dr. Robert Bell is Tennessee Tech's New President

On July 1, Dr. Robert Bell officially took office as Tennessee Tech’s new President. Dr. Bell succeeds Angelo Volpe who recently retired after leading the campus for 13 years. The selection of Tennessee Tech’s 8th president was announced in January after the Tennessee Board of Regents voted unanimously to accept the recommendation made by Chancellor Charles Smith. Chancellor Smith said that Bell’s proven leadership abilities and his knowledge of the Tennessee Tech campus and community make him an ideal candidate to lead the university. “Dr. Bell’s energy and enthusiasm, coupled with his track record of strong leadership, will be assets to the Tennessee Tech campus and the community,” Smith said. Dr. Bell was the only on-campus candidate among the 41 applicants. Dr. Bell was selected after a four-month search process that eventually named five prime candidates. Each candidate completed campus interviews in late November and December.

Dr. Bell arrived at Tennessee Tech in 1976 as chair of the Department of Management and Marketing following a director position he held at the University of North Florida. Dr. Bell had worked at the University of North Florida since earning his doctoral degree in Business Administration from the University of Florida. Dr. Bell was appointed dean of the college of business in 1991. Under his direction, the college’s enrollment grew significantly and endowments increased to more than $6 million. Dr. Bell played an instrumental role in forming the Mayberry Chair of Excellence and attracting Dr. Reimann as the Mayberry Chairholder. Bell helped raise two endowments for Chairs of Excellence in the college of business, and the Mayberry Chair was ultimately created in the 1993-1994 academic year. Dr. Bell contacted Dr. Curt Reimann about the potential position as chairholder shortly after Dr. Reimann's announced retirement from NIST. Dr. Bell recalls, "Within a week I had called Curt to see if he had post-retirement plans. I attended the Baldrige Ceremonies in Washington the following week and met him in the lobby of the Washington Hilton. We basically wrote the first contract sitting on a sofa in the reception area of the Hilton."

Dr. Bell has also played key roles in the state and national quality campaigns. He served on the Board of Examiners for the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award and has been recognized by the US Secretary of Commerce for outstanding service to the nation as a quality examiner. Dr. Bell is also very active in state quality efforts and was a member of the board of directors for the Tennessee Quality Award. Like so many others, the core values of the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award have made a positive impact on Dr. Bell's personal and professional ideals. Bell states, "Leadership is the driver- it starts with leadership. The Baldrige framework has helped me focus on processes and customers and understand my personal role in encouraging performance excellence in others." Dr. Bell's dedication to quality and performance excellence is evident through his accomplishments. The Mayberry team would like to thank Dr. Bell for his support and dedication and wish him the best of luck in his endeavors as president.

Written By Stephen Flatt, Mayberry Graduate Assistant

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