Co-founder of Big Idea Entertainment Mike Nawrocki spoke to students, faculty and staff about how his faith in God steered his career path during a convocation event on Wednesday in the Massey Performance Arts Center. Big Idea created the popular animated series “VeggieTales,” for which Nawrocki is the voice of Larry the Cucumber as well as writer and director of both short and feature-length films. The convocation was part of Belmont’s annual EMERGE, a spiritual emphasis week held near the beginning of the semester designed to encourage campus to reflect, refocus and renew. Other EMERGE speakers this week included author/Storyline founder Donald Miller and Porter’s Call founder Al Andrews.
Nawrocki explained that while he loved comedy from a young age, he originally wanted a career in the medical field. He studied at St. Paul Bible College where he met fellow Big Idea co-founder Phil Vischer while serving with a puppet ministry. He had always found church as an outlet for his creative side.
Nawrocki later enrolled at the University of Illinois-Chicago in pursuit of medical school. He took a job with a video production facility to finance his medical education. There, he gained experience in video production and animation. He finally decided that God was calling him in a different direction from medicine, and he and Vischer began working on “VeggieTales,” which is celebrating its 21st anniversary this year.
“I felt a real confirmation by God that I made the right decision so long ago,” Nawrocki said. “I had a moment where I realized that God had led me to the right place at the right time and had given me the talents and ability to do his will.”
Nawrocki concluded his presentation by encouraging students to be open to surprises.
“Here is my advice: Work hard. Make your plans, but always be open to how God can use you at a time like this,” he said.
Belmont University has recently made notable upgrades to campus Internet services for this term. The campus wireless network footprint has grown by 75 percent since fall 2013. Belmont has increased the number of wireless access points (APs) from roughly 250 to more than 430 APs. That’s more than 180 new APs spread across campus to support wireless services and improve connection and speed.
As an example of how the wireless network has evolved in this last year, more than 80 APs were installed in the Wedgewood Academic Center alone. This ensures that wireless services cover the entire building including student study areas, dining areas, the Chapel, classrooms and faculty offices. The university has also installed its first 10GB segment connection from the Wedgewood Academic Center to the campus’ core network. All other buildings on campus have a 1GB connection.
In addition, the university has expanded and improved wireless access in McWhorter, Athletic areas, the Curb Café and Curb Event Center. Wireless access was also installed in Belmont Commons for residential students for the first time. Additional wireless access in Fidelity Hall is also planned.
“My thanks go to all of the Technology Services team for getting school started well, and in particular, Network Services for a tireless effort to manage the growth and complexity of the campus network,” said Director of Technology Services Randall Reynolds. “We will continue to improve Internet services as a priority in all other classroom buildings on campus and faculty offices.”
Anyone experiencing issues with the campus wireless connection should call 615-460-6893 to report the time, location and specific nature of the problem so Belmont’s Technology Services representatives can seek a solution.
Belmont University hosts its 13th annual Humanities Symposium this week, featuring authors, poets, researchers, philosophers and professors from across the country.
Centered on the theme “Worlds Enough and Time,” the Belmont 2014 Humanities Symposium will occur Sept. 18 through 29 and references English author Andrew Marvell’s famous carpe diem poem, which begins with the phrase, “Had we but world enough and time,” transformed to allude as well to the University theme of “Living in a Global Community.” The symposium seeks to stimulate intellectual conversation through its 45 events, which together will engage in a 10-day conversation designed to increase interactions with different cultures, religions, political views as well as scientific and historical understandings of time to dislodge the default view and open students to broader understanding of the subject.
Last Friday, Emmy award-winning producer Jennifer Duck spoke to students in Thom Storey’s Media Ethics class about her career journey and ethical reporting. Duck is currently the producer of CNN’s “Anderson Cooper 360.”
She recently returned from 10 straight days on the ground with Cooper in Ferguson, Missouri, directing all the show’s live news coverage of the demonstrations and riots following the shooting death of teenager Michael Brown. Duck discussed the challenges of photo ethics and how they handled Brown’s death while respecting requests of his family. In addition, she touched on her approach to getting information from the public.
“We went around the area and talked directly to witnesses. People respond better to face-to-face interaction than an email or phone call,” Duck said. “The best reporting comes from going on the ground and talking to people.”
“If CNN can’t confirm on our own, we won’t attribute it or run it. You never know how credible those sources are,” she said.
She also showed clips of her work at CNN and talked about how she arrived at the TV channel. She discussed her previous work as producer for Katie Couric’s syndicated show in New York and the talent and development director for the launch of the OWN network. In addition, she was a backpack journalist covering the McCain and Obama presidential campaigns for ABC News in 2008.
“[Networking], that’s the biggest thing you should take from this. Connections are crucial,” Duck said. “When you meet someone, take their business card and keep it forever.”
University praised by its peers for commitments to innovation, undergraduate teaching, internships
Belmont University catapulted today into the Top 5 in U.S. News & World Report’s annual rankings of America’s Best Colleges in the South region. After three years at No. 7, Belmont’s ranking at No. 5 for the publication’s 2015 edition marks another check on the University’s Vision 2015 goal-setting list, an accomplishment achieved a full year ahead of schedule as was Belmont’s enrollment target (set for 7,000, the University hit 7,301 this fall at the start of classes).
Belmont was also lauded for the seventh year in a row as a top “Up-and-Comer,” indicating the university has made “the most promising and innovative changes in the areas of academics, faculty, student life, campus or facilities.” Moreover, Belmont was ranked second in the South for its “unusually strong commitment to undergraduate teaching” and was lauded by its peers for the internships the University emphasizes as part of its overall educational experience, an academic enrichment closely paired with student success.
Belmont President Dr. Bob Fisher said, “This is great news. I’m so privileged to be associated with faculty and staff who give their best every day to create extraordinary learning experiences for our students. While it’s gratifying and humbling to achieve this part of our Vision, we’re far from done. Planning has already begun on Vision 2020, and I fully expect our campus to raise the bar even higher as we imagine our future together.”
In the Best Regional Universities-South, Belmont is again the highest-ranked university of the 15 ranked Tennessee institutions in its category, a feat the University has claimed for more than a decade.The No. 5 ranking places Belmont in a premier position among the 126 public and private institutions included in the South region, an area that covers Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Florida, Kentucky, Mississippi and Louisiana.Other southern regional institutions in the Top 5 included Elon University (NC), Rollins College (FL), Samford University (AL) and The Citadel (SC).
Next Sunday night, Belmont University will be the only college in the nation to have two students competing in the Miss America pageant, broadcast live on ABC from Atlantic City, New Jersey. The Sept. 14 program will feature Belmont senior Hayley Lewis, who was crowned Miss Tennessee June 21, as well as junior Megan Swanson, who was named Miss Nebraska earlier this summer.
Lewis earned the highest score in the talent category on the night of the Tennessee pageant for her performance of “I (Who Have Nothing).” She will defer from the University for one year to travel the state as Gov. Bill Haslam’s spokesperson for Character Education as well as the goodwill ambassador for Children’s Miracle Network before returning to campus in August 2015 to complete her studies in music business and classical vocal performance. Previously at Belmont, Lewis provided game day support for the basketball and baseball teams and was an active participant in the Beltones.
Swanson, who performed ”You Raise Me Up” during the Nebraska scholarship pageant, is studying music and plans to become a motivational speaker and singer/songwriter.
Both Belmont undergraduates are taking this year off from school to attend to their state-wide duties.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology-trained physicist Dr. Deborah Haarsma spoke to students, faculty and staff about the intersection of science and faith during a convocation lecture in the Belmont University Chapel on Wednesday.
“Science displays God’s glory, extravagance and power,” Haarsma said. “I believe that looking out in the universe can show you a lot about God’s beauty and grace.”
Haarsma is president of the Biologos Foundation, which invites the church and the world to see the harmony between science and biblical faith. She is also co-author of “Origins: Christian Perspectives on Creation, Evolution, and Intelligent Design” and is part of the Cambridge University Faraday Institute’s Test of Faith multimedia curriculum.
“When I look at the development of the universe through the eyes of faith, I remember He is our creator and incarnate savior,” Haarsma said. “God’s world always has more layers of mystery for his image-bearers to discover. He designs natural processes and sustains them faithfully over billions of years to produce structure and complexity.”
The Christian-faith development convocation was co-sponsored by the College of Sciences and Mathematics and the American Scientific Affiliation.
Visiting professor will teach criminal justice courses on full-time basis
After serving as Metro Nashville and Davidson County District Attorney General for 27 years, Torry Johnson will retire Aug. 31 and prepare for joining Belmont University’s College of Law as an esteemed Visiting Professor in January 2015. Appointed to Davidson County District Attorney General in 1987 and then elected for three consecutive eight-year terms, Johnson has served the communities of Middle Tennessee for the majority of his career, garnering numerous legal, leadership and community service awards along the way.
Belmont President Bob Fisher said, “Bringing Torry Johnson on board as a faculty member is truly a significant coup for our College of Law. His devotion to his work and to public service is exceptional, and the expertise he can transmit to our students will raise the bar again on the educational opportunities Belmont Law provides.”
Johnson added, “Those of us who have lived in Nashville a long time have seen what Belmont University is doing, and this institution as a whole is an exciting place to be. Joining Belmont Law allows me to be on the ground floor of a young law school, and with Judge Gonzales and his leadership, it’s an attractive place for anyone in the legal field. I’ll also add that as District Attorney, one of my great joys has been working with young lawyers and watching them grow and become professionals in the field. I look forward to marrying conversations about real world experience with the theoretical knowledge students will encounter in the classroom.
As a Visiting Professor in Belmont’s College of Law, Johnson will teach criminal justice courses on a full-time basis and is particularly passionate about the opportunity to teach prosecutorial ethics to rising attorneys. Belmont Law graduated its first cohort in May and is provisionally accredited by the American Bar Association.
College of Law Dean Judge Alberto Gonzales said, “I am pleased to have the opportunity to work with General Johnson as a member of the law faculty. His experiences in the law will be of great benefit to our students.” (more…)
First day of classes welcomes more than 1,400 new freshmen to campus
Don’t call it a “small, liberal arts college” anymore. Today Belmont University announced a Fall 2014 enrollment of 7,301 students, putting the thriving University at more than double its enrollment from 2000 (2,976 students) and up 5.5 percent from last fall’s total of 6,915. Applications for undergraduate and graduate admissions for Fall 2014 also saw an increase of 12.5 percent and resulted in the University’s largest freshman class to date with 1,420 students.
Belmont President Dr. Bob Fisher said, “It’s both humbling and gratifying to see the number of students who want to come to Belmont to learn and discover their life purpose. These are individuals from all walks of life and many corners of the globe who aren’t thinking only of future careers but are embracing this University’s mission to engage and transform the world with their passions, skills and talents. I’m proud to welcome them to their new home and thankful they’ve chosen to be Belmont Bruins.”
In addition to incoming freshmen, Belmont also welcomed 508 new transfer students to campus this week, marking a total number of nearly 2,000 new undergraduates. The student body currently consists of 5,898 undergraduate students and 1,403 pursuing graduate/professional paths.
Associate Provost and Dean of Enrollment David Mee added, “We are very pleased with the fall 2014 admissions cycle. The entire University is involved in helping Belmont maintain the kind of momentum that has resulted in growing national recognition, enhanced experiences for our students and phenomenal growth during a period of stagnant enrollment across much of higher education nationally. Belmont is a unique story – one highlighted by a daily commitment to living out our mission and values. And by doing so, students continue to be attracted to Belmont and Nashville from all 50 states and many countries, and in record numbers. Nearly 2,000 new undergraduates alone just arrived at Belmont, and that is wonderful news for both the University and Nashville.”
Following a thankful message from Nashville Mayor Karl Dean and a charge to find their purposes through service from Belmont President Bob Fisher, students in Belmont’s Class of 2018 along with transfers students volunteered throughout Nashville through the University’s annual SERVE Project on Monday afternoon.
“This event has been going on at Belmont for at least 15 years. It’s so Belmont when our students go out into the community and serve. What I hope for you and for our community is that it will trigger an ongoing quest in you to find what you are uniquely made to do to serve others,” Fisher told 1,750 students before they departed campus for 13 sites across the city, including three Metro Nashville Public Schools and nonprofit organizations like Preston Taylor Ministries.
An annual “Welcome Week” tradition for more than a decade, SERVE provides a perfect tie-in to Belmont’s ongoing commitment to engage students in their community and encourage the values of service on both a local and global level.
“I am very pleased to be here and welcome you. You are all geared to serve our city,” said Dean. “Tennessee is the volunteer state, and Belmont and the city of Nashville have a strong tradition in giving back. When you go out and volunteer, please know that we appreciate that. There is nothing more valuable you can do in college than to get involved and understand how the city works.”
In West Nashville, 20 students sorted and bundled school supplies for LP PENCIL Box, a nonprofit organization that allows Metro school teachers to pick out $600 worth of pencils, rulers, backpacks, highlighters and other supplies every year. Program Manager Kerry Conley said 72.4 percent of Metro students live at or below the poverty line and are unable to purchase their own supplies, so often times Metro teachers spend $500 of their personal funds to help their students. (more…)
Center to house multiple colleges, labs, chapel, conference space
After 27 months of construction, Belmont University administrators, trustees and student representatives officially cut the ribbon today to signify the grand opening of the Wedgewood Academic Center, a 186,000 square foot structure plus 159,500 square feet for parking located on the corner of Wedgewood and 15th Avenues. From the five-level underground garage fit to hold 430 vehicles to the Fifth Floor Conference Room offering a perfect bird’s eye view of Nashville’s skyline, the building stands as a new cornerstone for the University that seeks to serve both its growing student body and its dynamic hometown.
President Dr. Bob Fisher said, “This building is designed for daily interdisciplinary collaborations, and it provides classrooms and laboratories that not only represent the latest thinking in academic spaces but will also greatly enhance hands-on experiential learning.”
The largest campus building to date, the Wedgewood Academic Center will house three colleges—the College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences (CLASS), the College of Sciences and Mathematics (CSM) and the College of Theology and Christian Ministry (CTCM)—and every undergraduate student will take courses in the building as part of the University’s general education curriculum. The new facility more than doubles the physical space these colleges—which consist of more than 50 undergraduate programs—occupied previously. In addition, the structure also houses Belmont’s new 300-seat chapel, which will host services every Monday, Wednesday and Friday as well as special events throughout the year.
“The Wedgewood Academic Center provides a perfect visual testimony of just what a unique and challenging education Belmont offers,” said Dr. Fisher. “Where else can science, liberal arts and religion students and faculty interact so easily? I believe the building itself will quickly become a Nashville icon—it is spectacular.”
Thirty classrooms that vary in capacity from 24-72 seats allow flexibility of use, while numerous smaller seminar and group study rooms enable more in-depth and focused discussions among students and faculty, a fact for which Belmont is well-known (U.S. News & World Report has lauded the University numerous times for its commitment to undergraduate teaching). In addition, the building houses 20 science labs outfitted with more than $2 million dollars in equipment, including state of the art spectrometers, a microwave reaction chamber, a cold room and incubators for biological studies, a state-of-the-art laser laboratory and an acoustics laboratory. A student-centered service area on the first floor allows for personal assistance via a Writing Center, Math Lab, Computer Science Lab, Language Learning Lab and a centrally located Service Learning and International Education office. Also on the first floor, the campus community can enjoy a dining option featuring Sandella’s Flatbread sandwiches and a We Proudly Brew Starbucks outlet.
300-seat ecumenical Christian sanctuary allows for bold mix of faith, academics
Today Belmont University unveiled its new campus Chapel, the first space on the ecumenical Christian university’s campus intentionally designed for worship services. Located on the ground floor of the new Wedgewood Academic Center at the corner of 15th and Wedgewood Avenues, the Chapel sits as a focal point within a larger structure that will house three of the University’s Colleges: Liberal Arts & Social Sciences, Sciences & Mathematics and Theology & Christian Ministry. The Chapel will host services three times a week during the fall and spring semesters, as well as special services of worship throughout the year. Click here to view the Chapel dedication in its entirety.
Belmont President Dr. Bob Fisher said, “A guiding principle in Belmont’s strategic Vision 2020 is to embed strong Christian character in everything we do. By housing Belmont’s Chapel in the University’s largest building—in an academic structure where every undergraduate student will have classes—we are both living out our mission and providing a much-needed gathering space for corporate worship opportunities.”
Belmont students, faculty and staff have the opportunity to attend services in the new Chapel on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays at 10 a.m. where, in addition to participating in student-led worship music, they can listen to nationally acclaimed scholars address a myriad of topics through the lens of faith. Guests this fall include MIT-trained physicist Dr. Deborah Haarsma, Harvard Law School graduate Bryan Stevenson, trauma surgeon Dr. David Vanderpool and Grand Ole Opry member and Belmont alumnus Josh Turner, among others.
An express version of Chick-fil-A had a soft opening in the Curb Café on Thursday. The popular fast food restaurant known for its chicken sandwiches will be open from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Monday through Saturday and serve its traditional fried chicken and grilled sandwiches as well as salads, waffle fries, chicken nuggets, special sauces, fruit cups, sweet tea and lemonade. Director of Dining Services Kyle Grover said he hopes to add breakfast to Belmont’s Chick-fil-A in the spring semester.
Both Sandella’s Flatbread Café and a We Proudly Brew Starbucks outlet open on Aug. 16, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. respectively, when the University celebrates the grand opening of the Wedgewood Academic Center, where many freshmen students will take their general education sciences, mathematics and liberal arts classes.
Sandella’s Flatbread Café brings pizzas, sandwiches and quesadillas to the north end of campus and will be open from 1 to 5 p.m. Sunday, 7:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 7:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Friday and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday.
We Proudly Brew Starbucks serves assorted coffee and tea beverages as well as pastries. The franchise accepts Bruin Bucks but is unable to take Starbucks gift cards or redeem loyalty stars. It will be open from 1 p.m. to 7 p.m. Sunday, 7:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 7:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Friday and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday. (more…)
Belmont University was again named among the nation’s Colleges of Distinction for providing innovative, teacher-centered undergraduate education and preparing graduates for real-world success. Based on the opinions of guidance counselors, educators and admissions professionals, the website and college guide profiles more than 220 of America’s best bets in higher education honors colleges that excel in four areas of undergraduate education: student engagement in the educational process, great teaching, vibrant learning communities and successful outcomes.
Aside from the academic experience offered at the institutions selected, Colleges of Distinction are also chosen based on their first year program and experimental components of the curriculum. The organization believes institutions should be judged on what they are doing now and the development of their strategic plan, instead of their prestige historically.
Belmont will be profiled on the Colleges of Distinction website and in the official Colleges of Distinction eGuidebook, which will be available via online retailers and distributed free-of-charge to over 40,000 high school and community college counselors.
Two Oaks provides 418 living spaces for upperclassmen
Belmont University celebrated today the opening of its biggest residence hall, Two Oaks, with a ribbon cutting ceremony. This weekend, 418 upperclassmen students will move into the 139,000-square-foot building’s mix of apartment-style and suite-style rooms. Two Oaks has a larger square footage and holds a dozen more beds than the University’s 12 other residence halls. In addition to residential space, the project includes the expansion and extension of the Thrailkill Garage to accommodate an additional 352 vehicles. The need for additional residential and parking space comes as a result of Belmont’s significant enrollment expansion from 2,976 students in 2000 to nearly 7,000 last fall.
Belmont President Dr. Bob Fisher said, “This new campus residential space is a perfect launching pad for our students as they begin to engage and transform the world. Having these additional students located at the core of campus will enliven and enrich our entire Belmont community.”
The building is named for two large oak trees on the site that provide natural beauty and shade to the building and courtyard. The new hall’s footprint was designed to save the trees as Belmont continues to emphasize environmental sustainability with this construction. The facility also uses a high-efficiency drip irrigation system, water-saving faucet aerators and low ‘e’ insulated glass as well as energy efficient lighting, appliances and mechanical systems. (more…)