First-Year Writing Class Explores ‘Freedom’ at Thistle Farms

Thistle Farms class VisitStudents from Charmion Gustke’s First-Year Writing class, “Why Freedom Matters,” spent a recent morning at Thistle Farms, a social enterprise that is run by the women of Magdalene House. Magdalene is a residential program for women who have survived lives of prostitution, trafficking, addiction and life on the streets. After meeting with the women for their Wednesday morning devotional, where stories are shared and blessings are celebrated, students toured the facility and experienced, first-hand, the community of Magdalene and the freedom that is found in cooperation. The morning ended with students relaxing next door at the Thistle Stop Café where they were asked to blog and reflect on their experience. This photo was used in the Thistle Farms newsletter of the week.

Honors Program Hosts Guests from Aquinas College


Pictured from left to right: Pearce, Dr. Jonathan Thorndike (Belmont Honors Director) and Urbanczyk

Belmont’s Honors Program recently hosted two guests from Aquinas College in Nashville: Joseph Pearce, writer-in-residence and director for the Center for Faith and Culture, and Dr. Aaron Urbanczyk, dean of Arts and Sciences at Aquinas. Urbanczyk delivered a special lecture to the entering class of first-year Honors Program students on one of the foundational texts of Western philosophy and Christian theology, St. Augustine’s Confessions.  The Honors students read Augustine’s Confessions as a text in their entry course on “Classical Civilizations.” Urbanczyk talked about the importance of reading, literacy and the Roman education system in the life and conversion experience of St. Augustine.

Pearce has written on a wide variety of literary figures including William Shakespeare, J.R.R. Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, G.K. Chesterton, Hilaire Belloc, Oscar Wilde and Alexander Solzhenitsyn. He was awarded the prestigious John C. Pollock Award for Christian biography for his book on Solzhenitsyn. His most recent books include Shakespeare on Love: Seeing the Catholic Presence in Romeo and Juliet (2013) and Bilbo’s Journey: Discovering the Hidden Meaning in the Hobbit (2012). Pearce is the editor of the St. Austin Review and editor for the Ignatius Critical Editions published by Ignatius Press.  Pearce will return to Belmont in January as a special guest lecturer in an Honors course on the Inklings of Oxford.

Dr. Urbanczyk’s teaching and scholarly interests include American literature, literary theory and 20th century Catholic fiction.  His essays, articles and reviews have appeared in Religion & the Arts, the St. Austin Review, The Intercollegiate Review, Modern Age, Essays in Arts & Sciences, Papers on Language & Literature, the Journal for Cultural & Religious Theory, Perspectives in Religious Studies, The Fellowship of Catholic Scholars Quarterly, The Catholic Thing, and the Ignatius Critical Editions of Frankenstein, The Scarlet Letter and Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.

Gonzalez Quoted on

jose-gonzalezInstructor of Entrepreneurship and Management Jose Gonzalez was recently interviewed for’s study examining 2014′s Best and Worst Cities for Hispanic Entrepreneurs. Click here to see the rankings and read Gonzalez’s comments.

Pharmacy Students, Faculty Raise Money for Nashville Cares

???????????????????????????????Members of Belmont’s College of Pharmacy Student National Pharmaceutical Association (SNPhA) walked in the Oct. 4 HIV/AIDs Walk and 5k benefiting Nashville Cares. For the third year in a row, SNPhA has raised more than $1,500 to benefit Nashville Cares. The entire College of Pharmacy contributed through a bake sale as well as individual fundraising efforts. Nashville Cares is a charitable organization that provides lifesaving services to Middle Tennesseans living with HIV/AIDS as well as offers education, prevention and awareness of HIV/AIDS.

More than 30 walkers participated in this year’s event including undergraduate Belmont students as well as College of Pharmacy students, faculty and administration. In addition to walking, both students and faculty volunteered at the Nashville Cares booth providing free HIV testing and education. More than 100 people were tested for HIV at the event.

This event was part of SNPhA’s Remember the Ribbon initiative to improve HIV/AIDS awareness, education and prevention in minority communities. For years to come, SNPhA and the College of Pharmacy plan to continue to develop its partnership with Nashville Cares in providing quality and compassionate care for those living with HIV.


Biology and Education Faculty and Students Attend the Tennessee Environmental Education Association Meeting

(L to R) Jeffers, Lee, Millward, Panvini, Alsup, Pitts and Keast

(L to R) Jeffers, Lee, Millward, Panvini, Alsup, Pitts and Keast

Biology professor Darlene Panvini, education professors Lauren Lunsford and Sally Arwood and several Belmont students attended the annual Tennessee Environmental Education Association meeting at the Great Smoky Mountains Institute at Tremont, Tenn. on Sept. 26-28. The Belmont faculty members gave a presentation titled “Reading in the Garden: Integrating Science and ELA CCSS through Informational Texts,” which included information about the professional development institute. This institute was held for middle and high school teachers in summer 2014 at Belmont as part of a grant received from the Tennessee Higher Education Commission. Biology students Katelyn Keast, Chelsea Lee and Lindsay Millward, environmental science student Alex Jeffers, as well as environmental science alumni Erin Pitts and Sylvia Alsup attended the event.

Belmont Approved for Actuarial Validation by Education Experience

Belmont University has been approved in all three actuarial categories for Validation by Education Experience (VEE).  As part of qualification for full actuary status, applicants must demonstrate knowledge in the areas of economics, corporate finance and applied statistical methods.  This is typically accomplished by taking approved undergraduate courses at approved universities.  Belmont submitted applications for course approval in these areas.  The VEE program is jointly sponsored by the Society of Actuaries, Casualty Actuarial Society and Canadian Institute of Actuaries.

The actuarial profession is usually ranked in the top five of career choices.  Actuaries work in the insurance and financial sectors and specialize in analyzing the financial impact of risk and uncertainty.  Contributing to this initiative were Belmont faculty Associate Professor of Economics and Music Business Jennifer Fowler, Associate Professor of Finance Joe Smolira, Associate Professor of Economics Marieta Velikova, Assistant Professor of Mathematics Barbara Ward and Professor of Mathematics Danny Biles. Current mathematics major, Mary Yang, and alumni, Nikki Finuf (2008), also contributed to these efforts.

Belmont Hosts the Tennessee Herpetological Society (THS) Annual Meeting

ths_logo_brownBelmont University hosted the annual Tennessee Herpetological Society (THS) meeting on Sept. 25-27 in the Beaman Student Life Center. Dr. John Niedzwiecki, professor of biology, served as the Belmont host for this event.  The meeting included a keynote speaker, poster presentations, speaker presentations and an auction to benefit the THS scholarship fund.  (THS) is a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting the study and conservation of reptiles and amphibians worldwide, but particularly within Tennessee.

College of Business Students Participate in First-Ever Cat Financial Case Competition

catTen Belmont College of Business students participated in the first-ever Case Competition hosted by Cat Financial Young Professional’s group on Sept. 16. The competition was created to use diversity of thought and inclusion to solve a real business problem at Cat Financial. Five teams, each comprised of two Belmont students and three Cat Financial employees including a six Sigma Black Belt, competed against each other to come up with the best and most innovative solution to the problem posed in the case study. The teams were given 24 hours to work as a team to come up with a solution and develop a presentation to present their recommendations. They each had 15 minutes to present in front of a judging panel and audience. Maggie Fincher, a junior entrepreneurship major, and Ananta Sharma, a senior economics and applied mathematics major, were members of the first place team.

Curb College Professors Receive Recognition for ‘Problem-Based Learning’ Paper





Curb College professors David Herrera and Clyde Rolston received Best in Track for the Arts, Music and Entertainment track for their paper “Using Group Projects for Problem-Based Learning in Music Business Courses” at the Atlantic Marketing Association 2014 Conference held Sept. 24-27 in Asheville, NC. The paper detailed how problem-based learning helps students achieve course outcomes and improves learning in two music business courses.

Judy Bullington Published in ‘Global Trade and Visual Arts in Federal New England’

judyProfessor of Art History Judy Bullington recently published a chapter titled “Cultivating Meaning: The Chinese Manner in Early American Gardens” in the book “Global Trade and Visual Arts in Federal New England.” The volume, published by the University of New Hampshire Press, was edited by Patricia A. Johnston, the Mears Chair in Fine Arts at The College of Holy Cross, and Caroline Frank of Brown University.

Bullington’s study focuses on the Chinese Manner as it appears in the architectural and ornamental details of gentry-class gardens from New England to Philadelphia and down the Atlantic coast during the formative years of the Revolution and through the era of the New Republic. She identifies an emerging pattern of introducing orientalized summerhouses, temples, bridges and the wooden palings of fences into the gardens surrounding the estates of prominent figures of the period and contextualizes a frequently referenced, but seldom analyzed, aspect of gardens that existed prior to the publication of A. J. Downing’s mid nineteenth-century treatise describing Chinese tastes in gardening.

Sybril Bennett Published in ‘Civic Learning and Teaching’

sybProfessor of Journalism Dr. Sybril Bennett published an article titled “Civility, Social Media & Higher Education: A Virtual Triangle” in Civic Learning and Teaching: A Bridge to Civic Life and a Life of Learning, edited by Ashley Finley.  The monograph is the most recent publication in The Civic Series, a partnership project between the Bringing Theory to Practice Initiative and the Association of American Colleges and Universities.

Pharmacy Students Certified as Immunizers

ImmunizationsTraining2Sixty-seven second year pharmacy students enrolled in Pharmaceutical Care II course, taught by Dr. Elisa Greene and Dr. Alisa Spinelli, recently became certified immunizers.  Utilizing the American Pharmacists Association (APhA) Pharmacy-Based Immunization Delivery program, students completed 20 hours of self-study, didactic and skills-based training. Topics included vaccine preventable diseases, the role of pharmacists as vaccine advocates and administrators, legal and regulatory issues and injection technique. This is the third year that students enrolled in the course have participated in the certification program.

Over 50,000 people die from vaccine preventable illnesses in the United States each year. Immunization-certified pharmacists have expanded community access to protection against vaccine preventable diseases, such as influenza, shingles, and pneumococcal disease.  The Institute of Medicine estimates that immunizations, including pharmacist-administered immunizations, have helped to prevent 14 million infections and 33,000 additional deaths from these conditions each year.

Belmont Equestrian Club Wins at First Competition of the Year

horse 2The Belmont Equestrian Club won three first place ribbons at the Intercollegiate Horse Show, the first competition of the year, which was hosted by Sewanee: The University of the South on Sept. 27-28.

Members Caitlyn Marsh, Courtney O’Connor, Mary Ritchea and Meg Anderson competed in the hunter/jumper discipline of equestrian sports against schools such as Vanderbilt University, the University of Tennessee, the University of the South and Murray State University. The riders brought back a total of eight ribbons.

“During my first show with the Belmont Equestrian Club, I learned that we were not only a club, but a team that supports one another in every way. I am a freshman who wanted to join the Belmont Equestrian Club to find a fun and diverse group of people that all shared a common love for horses, but I found so much more thanks to this supportive group,” Meg Anderson said about the Belmont Equestrian Club.

The Belmont Equestrian Club is open to all Belmont University students who express a passion for horses. Club members compete at two competitions each semester as well as attend monthly meetings, weekly lessons, and club events. For further information contact


Summer Scholars Present Undergraduate Research

summer_scholars_2014The Belmont Summer Scholars program recently hosted a poster session showcasing the research conducted by the student and faculty participants in the 2014 Summer Scholar Communities.  Summer Scholars is a program of undergraduate research in which faculty mentors in the College of Sciences and Mathematics guide students in the collection, analysis and sharing of data. It blends the structure of a summer session class with the format of a research team focused on a faculty-designed research project. The Summer Scholar Communities program students spend 16-18 hours per week for eight to ten weeks on a research project working with several other students and faculty mentors. The scholar communities gather throughout the summer to discuss their research challenges and successes.  The poster session provided a venue for sharing that experience with other students and faculty.

Dr. John Niedzwiecki mentored a group of students whose research focused on predator avoidance behavior.  These students collected snails from a nearby stream and measured the snails’ ability to detect and avoid predators.  The snails were able to detect differences in type and size of the predator as well as how long ago the predator was present.  Students Nicole Knowles, Taylor Mills, Raina Burley, Sonia Kadakia and Brielle Davis worked with Niedzwiecki on this project.  These students will also present their findings at the Tennessee Academy of Sciences meeting at Walter State Community College and Belmont’s Science Undergraduate Research Symposium (SURS) this fall.

Dr. Lori McGrew’s research group used zebrafish (Danio rerio) to assess differences in memory and anxiety following treatment with various chemicals.  The chemicals tested by this group included: nicotine, buproprion (an antidepressant), triclosan (an antimicrobial), a pre-workout supplement and a cannabinoid-like compound.  The students were able to determine that both triclosan and the pre-workout supplement increased anxiety while the cannabinoid compound and buproprion decreased anxiety as measured in the Danios. Student researchers included Karah Parker, Iqra Wahid, Hensley Barnes, Jaime Wesley and Cassie Wyatt. These students will present their findings at the Society for Neuroscience Conference in Washington, DC as well as SURS this fall at Belmont.

Belmont Faculty and Students Attend Actuarial Meeting

CASE_2014Dr. Danny Biles, professor of mathematics, and five of Belmont’s actuarial program students attended the 2014 annual fall meeting of the Casualty Actuaries of the Southeast (CAS) at Georgia State University in Atlanta, Ga. on Sept. 22.  Annie Brunelle, Stephen Sells, Savannah Halliday, Elly Fell and Katie Kruzan gained knowledge of current issues in the actuarial profession and made contacts with several practicing actuaries. The CAS focuses on supporting casualty actuaries who are committed to achieving their full professional potential while maintaining the highest standards of conduct and competence.

Belmont School of Nursing Recognized for Their Work with Freedom’s Promise

Taplin pictured here with her husband, Chaz, and Cambodian leaders.

Taplin pictured here with her husband, Chaz, and Cambodian leaders.

Belmont School of Nursing students and faculty were featured in a recent edition of the Freedom’s Promise newsletter for their work during this summer’s study abroad trip to Cambodia. The nursing program has long partnered with Sihanouk Hospital Center of HOPE in Cambodia but is now working more and more with Freedom’s Promise to help with their efforts.

Freedom’s Promise’s mission is to prevent human trafficking and child exploitation in Cambodia through individualized community development programs resulting in trafficking-free safe zones.  Through one of their programs, Belmont students interacted with villagers on a daily basis and taught them life-saving hand washing techniques. They also increased the quality of community health by providing education sessions focused on nutrition and disease prevention.

Dr. Susan Taplin, assistant professor of nursing and 2014 DNP graduate, leads the program’s efforts in Cambodia and has traveled there with students for more than 10 years.

“If you don’t take care of the illness first, you’re not going to get anywhere else. Teaching them something as simple as hand washing can increase their life expectancy and quality of life. You and I have always known to wash our hands, and we don’t know what it’s like to not have that education,” Talpin says.

Belmont Sophomore Competes on The Voice

10634224_10152278948145598_219238242_nBelmont student Jessie Pitts has been selected to compete on season seven of NBC’s The Voice which premiered on Monday after she auditioned for the show in Nashville earlier this year.

Pitts competed in the “blind auditions” which aired on Wednesday. Blake Shelton, Adam Levine and Pharrell all gave her the opportunity to compete on their individual teams. In the end, Pitts chose Team Blake for the competition.  Pitts is a sophomore in Belmont’s College of Entertainment and Music Business.

View her blind audition here.

Belmont Junior Competes on Reality Game Show

S29_Baylor_WilsonBelmont junior Baylor Wilson can be seen on this season of CBS’s Survivor: Blood vs. Water which takes place in San Juan Del Sur and premiered Wednesday evening.

Wilson was once a cheerleader for Belmont and is currently enrolled in the Entertainment Industry Studies program. She is competing on the reality game show alongside her mother.

“I wanted to get involved to be with my mom first and foremost, but also to share an experience with her that not many other mother and daughters get to share.  It has been the best and worst experience of my life,” Wilson said.

An interview with Wilson and her mom can be seen here.

Former Men’s Basketball Standout Kerron Johnson Signs Deal in Germany

image004Former Belmont University men’s basketball star Kerron Johnson has signed a professional contract with MHP Riesen Ludwigsburg of the German Bundesliga for the 2014-15 season.

Johnson took the Belmont program to new heights, leading the Bruins to 102 victories, four regular season conference championships, three conference tournament championships and three consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances. Moreover, Johnson helped Belmont earn national Top 25 poll votes three straight seasons and the program’s best NCAA Tournament seed – No. 11 – in 2013.

Among Johnson’s many career accomplishments was being named all-conference four straight years, 2012 NABC All-District and back-to-back conference tournament Most Valuable Player honors in 2012 and 2013. Johnson also ranks among the program leaders in assists, steals and free throws made and attempted.

He played for the New Zealand Breakers of the NBL in 2013-14.

Keen Published in ‘Nashville Arts and Entertainment’

22X28 NAE Poster New WebBelmont Instructor of Music Business Dan Keen recently had two articles published in the new issue of Nashville Arts and Entertainment, an annual publication highlighting the arts and entertainment opportunities in the region. Asked to write a feature on music royalties and given the challenge to make it “fun,” Keen responded with “The Freakonomics of Making Money on Music Row.” The magazine hit newsstands this month and also included Keen’s interview with trombonist/songwriter Jimmy Pankow, co-founding member of the rock band Chicago who has moved from L.A. to Music City.

Alumna Secures Belmont Orchestra Donation, Performance Opportunity

jaimee paul-116

Bob Black, Jaimee Paul and Belmont Professor of Music Dr. Robert Gregg celebrate the orchestra donation.

Bob Black, the owner of the Capitol Theatre in Lebanon Tennessee, recently donated $1,000 to the Belmont Orchestra, in conjunction with an upcoming show the orchestra will be playing with a Belmont alumna. Jaimee (Paulich) Paul, a 1999 Belmont graduate, and her jazz band are putting on a James Bond show at the Capitol Theatre on Nov. 7 with legendary producer/composer Michael Omartian conducting the Belmont Orchestra on stage. The concert will feature songs from Paul’s Bonded album, a tribute to more than 50 years in the James Bond film series. The project, which was also produced by Omartian, was released in January of 2013 on Green Hill Music and reached No. 6 on the iTunes Jazz Albums chart.

Paul said, “We decided to enlist the Belmont Orchestra to help us out with this concert so the audience could have an exceptional experience. Bob Black, owner of the Capitol Theatre, is graciously donating $1,000 to the Orchestra program at Belmont because he realizes that musicians are very valuable and should be recognized for their talent. He values the education that students receive throughout their lives, and especially if they continue their musical education through college.”

Tickets for the Nov. 7 show are $20, but the Capitol Theatre is offering Belmont students and alumni a discount with proper identification. For more information on Paul’s career, visit

Adam Gives International Presentation on Flipped Classroom

Jamie Adam UK presentationDr. Jamie Adam, assistant professor of nursing, presented her work on innovative teaching to the Healthcare Educators Networking Conference in Cambridge, United Kingdom, Sept. 2. Her presentation was titledThe flipped classroom approach: Evaluating student and faculty experiences.” The  conference provided a unique experience for attendees from various healthcare disciplines to participate in sessions related to educational innovation, clinical practice, interprofessional learning and simulation. Attendees included educators from nursing, OT, PT, allied health, psychology and others representing both inpatient and outpatient settings. Participants remained within their chosen theme for the day to enjoy continuity of discussion and debate among faculty from all over the world. Dr. Martha Buckner, associate dean of nursing, said, “Dr. Adam’s work with the flipped classroom allows her to engage students more actively, encouraging them to clarify and apply knowledge. I am so pleased she is receiving both national and international attention to her work.”

Belmont Women Compete on ‘Family Feud’

thomasfamily.familyfeudTwo Belmont alumnae and one current Belmont student were recently contestants on the game show “Family Feud.” Sarah Morgan is a School of Nursing alumna, and Bethany Thomas graduated from Belmont’s physical therapy program. Lindsey Thomas is currently enrolled in the pharmacy program at Belmont. All three women are also related to Professor of Media Studies Dr. Rich Tiner.

The family auditioned in June at the Hotel Preston in Nashville. The Thomas family episode was taped this summer and aired this past Tuesday.

Alexander Appointed to TNCPE Panel of Judges

joe_alexander_2013Associate Dean and Senior Professor of Performance Excellence of the Jack C. Massey Graduate School of Business Dr. Joe Alexander has been appointed to the Tennessee Center for Performance Excellence (TNCPE) Panel of Judges.

Each year, the Panel of Judges plays an integral role in the TNCPE Award Program which recognizes local, regional and statewide organizations that demonstrate excellence in business operations and results. TNCPE recognizes high-performing organizations committed to organizational excellence and continuous improvement.

As a judge, Alexander is responsible for validating the integrity of the TNCPE award process and determining recognition levels for each award applicant. The Panel of Judges comprises experts selected from all industry sectors, including business, manufacturing, education, health care, government and nonprofit. All judges have been Baldrige National Quality Award examiners or have served on the TNCPE Board of Examiners.

Webb Published in Teaching and Learning Inquiry

image003Assistant Professor of Communication Studies Dr. Nathan Webb has been published in the latest edition of Teaching and Learning Inquiry. His article, “Instructor-Student Rapport in Taiwan ESL Classrooms,” examines how English teachers from the West navigate cultural differences to build effective relationships with “English as a second language” students in Taiwan. To complete his research, Webb conducted interviews and classroom observations in Taipei, Taiwan. Teaching and Learning Inquiry is the academic journal of the International Society for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning.

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