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TTU News

Published: Tue Feb 1, 2005

The Tennessee Center for Performance Excellence (TNCPE) has selected Tennessee Technological University President Robert R. Bell as the first recipient of its Ned R. McWherter Leadership Award.

The award was created to recognize one individual each year who exemplifies outstanding leadership in pursuit of performance excellence, is dedicated to principles of excellence, has furthered performance improvement beyond his organization, and is committed to the core values of the TNCPE program.

It is named for former Tennessee Governor Ned McWherter, under whom the Tennessee Center for Performance Excellence (formerly the Tennessee Quality Award) was created in 1993. A public-private partnership, the TNCPE program is based on the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award and was established as an economic development tool to stimulate Tennessee business and industry.

“This award is named for our founder and a governor who truly appreciated the efforts of Tennessee organizations to rise to the highest levels of achievement,” said Katie Rawls, President of TNCPE. “It is only fitting that the first award go to someone who shares that commitment.

“Some of the reasons our board of directors selected Dr. Bell for this honor include his outstanding leadership at TTU and the Tennessee Board of Regents, the way in which he incorporates business excellence principles at the university, and his use of the Baldrige framework on the campus,” Rawls said.

Bell became TTU’s president in 2000 after serving as the dean, associate dean, assistant dean, and a chairperson in the university’s College of Business. In 1992 he was appointed a charter member of the TNCPE board of directors. Since 1995 he served four terms on the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award’s board of examiners, and has been a member of the TNCPE panel of judges since 1994.

He represented Tennessee as a state delegate to the White House Conference on North American Free Trade Agreement in 1994 and spent two years as an economic development consultant for the Nation of Mauritius. In 1998 the U.S. Secretary of Commerce recognized Bell for outstanding service to the nation as a quality examiner.

Since then he has also served on or chaired a variety of professional, regional and national organizations, including the American Association of Collegiate Schools of Business, the Southern Business Association, the North American Case Research Association, the Tennessee College Association, Tennessee Higher Education task forces, Cookeville Area–Putnam County Chamber of Commerce, Cookeville-Putnam County Industrial Development Board, and Ohio Valley Athletic Conference, among others.
Bell will accept the award at the TNCPE 2005 Awards Banquet on Thursday, Feb. 17.

The TNCPE has led businesses and other organizations in the pursuit of performance excellence for more than a decade. More than 1,000 organizations have used the Center’s services to improve results and contribute to the economic vitality of the region. More than 2,000 volunteers have been involved with TNCPE as members of its board of directors, panel of judges, board of examiners or ambassadors since 1993.