The TCA is devoted to the advancement of the cause of higher education by the promotion of interests common to all Tennessee colleges and universities. Bell was elected at its most recent meeting in Nashville.
"I am honored to lead such a distinguished and influential group," Bell said. "Higher education is the means through which Tennessee can move confidently in the future. The institutions represented by the TCA have a far-reaching impact on economic development as well as the health, culture and social well-being of our state."
Members of the Association include presidents of both public and private universities, community colleges, private colleges, professional and technical schools, as well as representatives from the Tennessee Higher Education Commission, Tennessee Board of Regents, University of Tennessee System, and the Tennessee Independent College and University Association.
The association will carry an important load this year as it strives to address critical issues building in higher education for some time. Following decades of under funding from the state, Tennessee’s public schools faced their largest budget reductions in history this year. Both public and private institutions are also preparing for an influx of students over the next few years as the Legislature enacts a state lottery to fund scholarships.
Bell became president of Tennessee Tech University in 2000 after serving at the school for 24 years as a professor and dean of the College of Business Administration. He earned an international reputation in quality management, being recognized in 1998 by the U.S. Secretary of Commerce for his work and serving on the Board of Examiners for the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award four times. He has 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 has also been involved in state-wide economic development on behalf of the Tennessee Higher Education Commission, working on the THEC master plan focusing on links among higher education and stakeholders in business, health care and state government.
Bell follows in the footsteps of several influential Tennessee Tech University presidents who have led the TCA since its inception in 1919, including Q.M. Smith, Everett Derryberry, Arliss Roaden and Angelo Volpe.