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Former Tennessee Tech President Bell inducted into the OVC Hall of Fame

By Jocelyn VerVelde, TTU Sports Information Coordinator

BRENTWOOD, Tenn. – The Ohio Valley Conference announced on Tuesday that former Tennessee Tech President Dr. Robert "Bob" Bell has been elected into the Ohio Valley Conference Hall of Fame. Bell becomes the 18th Tennessee Tech affiliate into the Hall of Fame.

The Ohio Valley Conference Hall of Fame was organized in 1977 with the intent of honoring the coaches, administrators, faculty and staff who have been associated with the OVC for at least five years and provided extensive and outstanding service to the Conference. With the induction of this year's class, the membership will reach 73.

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. Bell retired in July of 2012. 

Under Bell’s leadership, the Tennessee Tech athletic department boasted 35 different conference regular season and tournament championships from nine different sports. The department also boasted two Steve Hamilton Sportsmanship Award winners, three Female Athlete of the Year winners, 10 Team Sportsmanship Awards, and during Bell’s final year at the helm of the University, TTU won the Institutional Sportsmanship Award.

Bell showed an emphasis on the growth of athletics at Tennessee Tech by adding the Athletic Performance Center to campus. The APC is a 25,000 square foot facility with a weight room and indoor turd solely for the use of training and strengthening the Golden Eagle Student Athletes.

Along with the building of the APC, new residence halls also were constructed during his time, and the university expanded its size by acquiring the building and grounds associated with the former Prescott Middle School.

Bell also helped in orchestrating the hiring of Tech’s current Director of Athletics Mark Wilson. Wilson was named this pas June as one of four winners of the Athletic Director of the Year Award for the Football Championship Subdivision, an honor that is selected and presented by the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics (NACDA). He also has served as chair of the OVC Board of Director of Athletics and represented the OVC on the NCAA Leadership Council. Wilson currently serves on the FCS ADA Executive Committee and the NCAA Division I Football Championship Committee and Football Issues Committee. 

During tough economic times, Dr. Bell put TTU in a position of economic influence, helping state leaders with recruiting efforts and pledging workforce development support. He championed efforts to boost the economies of Cookeville and Putnam County by making sure the university was a strong partner in efforts such as bringing the TSSAA football championships to Tech. 

Throughout Bell’s tenure, student enrollment reached record numbers 10 consecutive years, and student headcount surpassed the 11,000 mark for the first time. Under his oversight, TTU boasted the highest graduation and retention rates in the TBR system.

Bell maintains an international reputation in quality management. The U. S. Secretary of Commerce recognized him in 1988 for his work serving on the Board of Examiners for the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award four times.

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 is a longtime member of the Tennessee Quality Award Panel of Judges. 

Before being named president, Bell served at 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. 

Joining Bell in the OVC Hall of Fame this year is Former Murray State coach and administrator Margaret Simmons. Simmons is the sixth woman elected to the OVC Hall of Fame. She became the first head coach of the women's track and field team in 1968 and started the Murray State women's cross-country team three years later.

They will be officially inducted at the annual OVC Honors Brunch, which will be held Friday, May 30 at the DoubleTree Hotel in downtown Nashville.