May 27, 2020

Jessica Pope
Communications and Media Relations Coordinator

VSU’s Jacob Bell Recognized for Strong Leadership, Commitment to USG Students

Jacob Bell

VALDOSTA — Each year the Student Advisory Council of the University System of Georgia (USG) anonymously votes to recognize one of its members with the prestigious Regent Willis J. Potts Student Advisory Council Leadership Award. This year’s recipient is Valdosta State University’s Jacob R. Bell of Bristol, Georgia.

The Regent Willis J. Potts Student Advisory Council Leadership Award is named in honor of Willis J. Potts, who was appointed to the Board of Regents of the USG in 2006 by former Gov. Sonny Perdue. He served through 2012 and was highly regarded for his leadership, service, and commitment to Georgia students. Bell’s openness, honesty, respect for others, enthusiasm for higher education, working knowledge of USG policies and procedures, and active participation in Student Advisory Council activities and Board of Regents meetings were instrumental in helping him win the award.

Bell came to VSU after graduating from Appling County High School in Baxley, Georgia. He was determined to make his mark, and by his sophomore year he had secured a seat as a senator in the Student Government Association. He followed that with back-to-back terms as student body president during his junior and senior years.

 “In my time leading the Student Government Association, I have taken keen interest in efforts to improve academic policy to better serve students … at VSU,” said the son of Jeffrey Bell and Paula Hallman Carter.

Bell served on the University System of Georgia’s General Education Core Curriculum Redesign Task Force, a group charged with redesigning the system’s core curriculum for the first time in more two decades. He sought to champion efforts to remove barriers to student success, particularly student hunger. He participated on the Equity in Education panel at the Georgia Budget and Policy Institute’s 2020 Policy Conference where he was able to appeal to law and policy makers for need-based aid and increased resources for mental health services. He also played a key role in VSU’s efforts to engage students, grow student participation in athletics, and invest in diversity and inclusion efforts.

“It's evident that his peers have recognized his leadership and ability to represent the voice of all students in important decisions impacting Georgia higher education,” said Dr. Vince Miller, vice president of Student Affairs at VSU. “I am proud of his many accomplishments, and he is truly deserving of this honor.” 

Bell graduated on May 9 with a Bachelor of Business Administration in Economics and an Honors College Certificate. He was honored with the opportunity to deliver the commencement address during the virtual Undergraduate Ceremony portion of VSU’s 229th Commencement.

While at VSU, Bell participated in the University Ambassadors Program, was a member of the Wesley Foundation Leadership Team, and completed a summer internship experience in the office of Georgia State School Superintendent Richard Woods. He was inducted into Blue Key Honor Society and Beta Gamma Sigma: The International Business Honor Society.

Taking full advantage of VSU’s rich and diverse lineup of study abroad programs, Bell enjoyed two unforgettable cultural and professional experiences, one in Cadiz, Spain, and another in Hong Kong. He volunteered four times as a state-level extemporaneous speaking judge for FFA.

Bell’s commitment to academic, service, and leadership excellence resulted in him earning repeated spots on the Dean’s List, the Harley Langdale Jr. College of Business Administration Steele Scholarship, the Honors College Azalea Scholarship, the highly coveted Eternal Flame Leadership Award, and the VSU Alumni Association’s Spring 2020 Future Alumni Leader Award.

Bell said that he is going to miss Valdosta, but he is excited about a new adventure — serving as a program support assistant for the United States Small Business Administration’s Birmingham, Alabama, district office. While he prepares for his big 373-mile relocation, he has accepted a virtual 30-day assignment with the Small Business Administration’s Office of Disaster Assistance as a disaster recovery specialist.   

The USG’s Student Advisory Council was formed in 1968 and provides a forum for communications between USG students, the chancellor, the board, state officials, and the public. It is comprised of Student Government Association presidents from each of the USG’s 26 institutions of higher education.

“I have immense respect for my counterparts at Georgia’s 25 other public universities, so I am tremendously honored to be selected by my peers for this recognition,” Bell said. “As always, I am grateful to VSU for positioning me to be successful in my role on campus and as a student adviser to the Board of Regents.”