Tennessee Tech University President Bob Bell announced his plans to retire next July in a message to the campus community.
In a letter to faculty and staff sent Friday afternoon, Bell told colleagues that he had met with Tennessee Board of Regents Chancellor John Morgan earlier in the day to inform the chancellor of his retirement decision.
“The 2011-2012 academic year will be my 36th year at TTU, with 12 of those years in service as president,” said Bell. “I believe this time frame will give the TBR and the university sufficient time to search for and select an outstanding new president for TTU.
“Gloria and I will cherish the wonderful memories of these times and will look forward to many more years of relationships with many of you as we retire in Cookeville,” he said.
Bell became the university’s eighth president when he took office July 1, 2000. Under his presidential leadership, the university has secured funds and constructed the Nursing and Health Services building and Ray Morris Hall to house the Millard Oakley Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics Center established under Bell’s administration. Two new residence halls and the Athletic Performance Center were also constructed during this time, and the university expanded its size by acquiring the building and grounds associated with the former Prescott Middle School.
Student enrollment reached record numbers 10 consecutive years, and student headcount surpassed the 11,000 mark for the first time. Under his oversight, TTU currently boasts the highest graduation and retention rates in the TBR system.
Bell’s emphasis on quality and value is reflected in the university’s nine years on the U.S.News & World Report list of “Top Public Universities in the South,” seven years on The Princeton Review list of “Best Southeastern Colleges” and three years of recognition as a “Best Value College,” and five years among “America’s 100 Best College Buys.”
Before being named president, Bell served at for TTU for 24 years as a professor and dean of the College of Business. He joined TTU’s faculty in 1976 as chairman of the department of management and marketing. He was named assistant dean and associate dean before being named dean and professor of management in the then College of Business Administration in 1991.
Bell maintains an international reputation in quality management. The U. S. Secretary of Commerce recognized him in 1998 for his work serving on the Board of Examiners for the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award.
He also served as a state delegate to the White House Conference on the North American Free Trade Agreement and worked closely with the U.S. Department of Commerce and the National Institutes of Standards and Technology.
Bell was appointed by the governor as a charter member of the Tennessee Quality Award Board of Directors, and he was a longtime member of the Center for Performance Excellence Panel of Judges.
Locally, Bell serves on the Executive Council of the Middle Tennessee Council of Boy Scouts of America, chairs the Cookeville Industrial Development Board, is vice chair of the Cookeville-Putnam County Chamber of Commerce, and serves on the Board of Directors for Blood Assurance.
All TBR university presidential searches are conducted by the chancellor, advised by a committee of 14 or more, including up to six members of the board. The chancellor recommends one candidate to the TBR Board. The board either accepts or rejects that recommendation.
The chancellor and the committee chair may consult a variety of local leaders, both on and off campus, to determine the off-campus constituencies that should be represented on the advisory committee. Typically, this could include members of the institution’s board and/or foundation, business leaders, alumni, minority group representatives, religious leaders and elected representatives to the state legislature. The chancellor and committee chair also work with the institution to ensure that all on-campus constituencies are represented, including faculty, staff and students.