President Bell conveys conference focus to class

President Bob Bell attended the 2009 Tennessee Governor’s Conference on Economic Development this past Monday and Tuesday. And he hopes to bring such economic awareness into his classroom.The annual conference that was held in Nashville focused on economic development within the state, with many topics focused on bringing more jobs to Tennessee and developing stronger communities and regions.

“Assuming Tech students want to remain in Tennessee, the conference was about their current and future jobs,” Bell said. “It was also about the state of the economy in our nation and state. And that topic affects all of us every day.”

As Chairman of the Industrial Development Board for Cookeville and Putnam County and Vice Chairman of the Chamber of Commerce, Bell is aware of the prominent role the University plays in Middle Tennessee economics.

“For example, when Volkswagen came to Chattanooga, Tech was one of five universities listed as a source of engineering talent for the company in helping recruit them,” Bell said. “UT Chattanooga, UT Knoxville, Vanderbilt, Georgia Tech, and TN Tech were those listed.”

Now back on campus, Bell is focused on translating such economic realities to students during the Monday night Management and Organizational Behavior class he is currently teaching.

“I’ve taught business classes for more than 35 years,” Bell said. “And it’s always fun to get back in the classroom. My Ph.D. is in management, so this is my primary teaching field.

“In the class, I hope to share my experiences as a CEO, along with talking about the many other leadership roles I’ve had.”

In addition to 10 years as Tech president, Bell’s experience includes work as a department chairperson, a director of graduate studies and assistant dean and served 10 years as dean of business administration. His background also includes work in business consulting and assignments in economic development for the nation, state and region for several decades. It also comprises his state trade missions to Japan and work as an economic development consultant to The World Bank in international development.

“In the end, I hope that the students will get a solid grounding in management and leadership and take away some fresh perspective about their current and future careers,” Bell said. “But teaching this also gives me a chance to get some close interaction with a bright group of students, and I always learn some new things from the experience.”

But Bell also has a message for all students, regardless if they are enrolled in his class.

“My wish for every student is that they remain in school and graduate successfully. I encourage you to work hard in class but to also have fun while you’re here,” Bell said. “National studies have repeatedly shown that graduation chances are improved when students get involved in some kind of extracurricular activity, in addition to working hard in the classroom.

“And lastly I encourage everyone to be safe. Watch out for pedestrians and remember the 24/7 campus speed limit of 15 mph. And don’t use cell phones when crossing a street. We don’t like airlifting a student, or campus visitor, to a trauma center, but it seems that we have to do this almost every year. Please just be safe. And best wishes for a successful year.