Educational Green Roof Brings New Life to Botany Class

biology-138With the addition of Belmont’s largest building, the Wedgewood Academic Center, students in the University’s College of Sciences and Mathematics have the opportunity to learn in state-of-the-art science labs, including Belmont’s first educationally purposed green roof.

Professor and Chair of the Biology Department Dr. Darlene Panvini teaches courses in botany and ecology, among others, and last semester, her botany class was the first to use the new space. With a green roof assignment spanning the length of the course, Dr. Panvini’s students designed projects that would answer botanical questions including how canopy density is affected by distance and how a sedum’s natural ability to cool soil would affect growth.

Through the design and implementation of these projects, the educational green roof was given new life, and for the next 10 years, students will be asking scientific questions and using the green roof as their research lab. Since the roof is self-irrigating and self-sufficient, it can endure harsh temperature changes and limited interaction. Dr. Panvini’s botany classes are scheduled biennially, so students will not be tending to the roof in the off years. With that in mind, students specifically chose plants that would be able to withstand those conditions. (more…)

Department of Education Earns Strong Accreditation Review

Belmont University’s Department of Education recently received a continuance of its accreditation under the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE) standards, an achievement the Department has owned for more than 20 years. NCATE’s performance-based accreditation system for teacher preparation ensures that teacher candidates are prepared to make a difference in P-12 student learning.

class-1-300x200Based off a six standard scale, educator preparation programs are evaluated in areas including professional disposition, assessment systems, field experiences, diversity, faculty qualification and resources, among others. Belmont’s Department excelled at all listed criteria, earning an unprecedented mark of no citations or areas of improvement.

With a recent nod towards what Chair and Professor of Education Mark Hogan calls “feet in the streets” education, the Department has launched education programming that is committed to advocacy for children, their families and the profession. All education students spend time each semester in the field, including a placement as early as their first semester.


Belmont Partners with Tennessean on Mayoral Debates

NashForward_PresentedByThe Tennessean and Belmont University have come together to present Nashforward, the premier Nashville Mayoral Debate Series in 2015.

As the leading media company and a top-ranked University, The Tennessean and Belmont University want to ensure that voters are well-informed on the issues facing Nashville and the positions of each candidate as they head to the polls in August.

Each debate will be free and open to the public, but tickets must be reserved in advance. The debates will also be streamed live via The Tennessean and Belmont University’s digital platforms.

Belmont President Dr. Bob Fisher said, “We have long said that being in Nashville is one of Belmont University’s finest assets, and this institution is committed to returning that benefit through engagement with, and service to, our city. Hosting these debates also connects well with our mission to provide students with significant real-world educational experiences, demonstrating first-hand how they can be change agents in our community and the broader world.”

The Tennessean’s President and Publisher Laura Hollingsworth said, “Nashvillians can count on The Tennessean to cover the details and the in-depth stories about the election, the candidates and their stances on the issues leading into the election.”


MLK Events Include Visit from Pulitzer Prize-Winning Historian

taylor branch-106Belmont University held a number of notable events during the past two weeks to celebrate and honor the memory of Martin Luther King, Jr., including a visit from keynote speaker Taylor Branch Friday morning. A Pulitzer Prize winning historian, Branch wove comments on the recent film Selma into his remarks. Teaching on historical movements and the catalysts that spark them, Branch said movements are started by moments that move an individual to act, speak up and believe in something. “That’s what a movement is,” he said. “It’s something like the language of emotion, connecting you to things that are an emotional challenge to you.”

Branch said that people do not learn from abstract analysis, which is vague and reprogrammable, depending on the content. People learn from personal experiences that spark something inside of them. “Personal experiences move us in ways that scramble our ideas of what’s real and possible,” he said.

These moving moments resurfaced as Branch discussed several scenes from Selma. For instance, Branch describes Dr. King’s call to end the march and go back to the church as the “peak of his leadership.” Even though many did not agree with the decision, Branch said, “It shows you the complexity of ideas involved in keeping a movement going to engage in larger possibilities. He kept alive the possibility of a voting rights act.”


Belmont University Welcomes Local Residents for Seventh Annual Community Day

community day 2015-201As a show of gratitude to its neighbors in Metro Council Districts 17, 18 and 19, Belmont University hosted the community to watch the men’s basketball team play Ohio Valley Conference (OVC) rival UT Martin last night for the University’s seventh annual Community Day.

With more than 1,000 neighbors in attendance including students from a number of surrounding schools, the annual event featured dinner, face painting, a balloon artist and a drumline battle between local high schools, Pearl-Cohn and Maplewood. In celebration of University mascot Bruiser’s birthday, mascots from around the city were in attendance for Bruiser’s birthday party.

Keeping in line with the night’s festivities, the Bruins (12-7, 4-2 OVC) were happy to bring home a win against the UT Martin Skyhawks (11-7, 3-2 OVC). With a final score of 72 to 67, Community Day attendees kept energy high in Belmont’s Curb Event Center and cheered the Bruins to victory. The win marked Coach Rick Byrd’s 701st career victory, and Byrd was honored before the game for reaching No. 700 last Saturday.


Author Andrew Maraniss Joins Belmont and Area Universities for MLK Day of Service

mlk service day-101More than 200 university students carried on the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. on Saturday when they spent five hours volunteering at the fifth annual MLK Day of Service. Students from Belmont, Lipscomb, Trevecca Nazarene, Vanderbilt and Tennessee State Universities gathered at TSU’s Kean Hall to celebrate and honor King through a day of community service. The MLK Day of Service is a nationally recognized event intended to empower individuals, strengthen communities, bridge barriers, create solutions to social problems and move individuals closer to Dr. King’s vision of a beloved community.

Author Andrew Maraniss’s recent book Strong Inside highlights the 1966 enrollment of African-American basketball player Perry Wallace at Vanderbilt University. Wallace was the first African-American to play basketball in the Southeastern Conference. Maraniss delivered the opening remarks at the Day of Service, encouraging students to understand the importance of working together towards a common goal, no matter what school they attend. Maraniss emphasized the importance of the day’s service projects, as well as the engagement and collaboration that would occur among some of Nashville’s brightest students.

Belmont’s Director of Service-Learning Tim Stewart said the Day of Service is a great way to bring students together from all across the city and remind them of Dr. King’s belief in the importance of service and community. “I can’t think of a better way to honor the life and legacy of Dr. King than by coming together as colleges and universities to serve our great community,” he said.


Alumnus Geoff Koch Honored with Curtain Call Award

Curtain Call Award-113-L

The School of Music honored Commercial Music alumnus Geoff Koch (’94) with the Curtain Call Award on Tuesday evening. The Award is presented annually to a School of Music alumnus in honor of achievement in the field of commercial and popular music. During the ceremony, Koch performed a few selections from his significant songwriting catalog.

After graduating from Belmont, Koch was chosen to be the pianist at the Grand Ole Opry and later went on to perform with acts such as Lorrie Morgan, Restless Heart and The Glen Miller Orchestra. His music has been featured on a range of media, from Saturday Night Live to the National Geographic Channel.

Koch, the owner of Music Row’s Koch Music Productions, serves as the current president of the Nashville Composers Association and is on the board of Film-Com, the world’s largest completion and distribution market for film and TV.

Belmont Gives Flowers Back to Community Through Perenity

presidents-dinner-109-199x300When ceremonies, dinners or weddings at Belmont University are complete, used flowers are donated to Perenity, a nonprofit organization that reworks them to create bedside arrangements for hospice patients as well as the Ronald McDonald House, Meals on Wheels and nursing homes, among others.

Belmont was introduced to the organization in 2005 and since then the University, under the leadership of Event Coordinator Michelle Campanis, has continued to donate floral arrangements and potted plants to Perenity after their initial use.

Campanis said she is passionate about the ability to work with Perenity and find a second purpose for the floral arrangements she loves making. “When we are setting up flowers for an event, I get comments from the people in the elevator that see us in passing to the special guests attending the event at how happy the flowers make them. It is wonderful to know that by donating to Perenity, those flowers will be shared with people who are encountering some of the most challenging events of their life, ” she said. “I think one of the main lessons I have learned from the wonderful people at Perenity is how we can each take something we personally find fulfilling and use it to make the world a kinder place.”


Belmont Is Open Today, Wednesday, Jan. 14

Belmont University is open today–Wednesday, January 14–and classes will proceed as scheduled. Because weather and road conditions can vary greatly within our region, students, faculty and staff are urged to use individual discretion when making the decision to travel to campus in snow or icy weather.

Belmont Officially Opens New Williamson County Site in Cool Springs

Location will offer adult degree programs, rental opportunities

professional educational facility -132Belmont University officially cut the ribbon today on a new professional education and corporate meeting facility in the heart of the Cool Springs business community. The new Williamson County location, located at 310 Billingsly Court, will provide easily accessible classrooms in Cool Springs for courses in Belmont’s adult degree, professional and continuing education programs, as well as event and meeting rental space for area businesses and organizations.

Belmont University first opened a satellite location in Cool Springs in 2002 on Seaboard Lane, allowing thousands of Williamson County residents and employees close access and opportune times to take classes to “finish what they started” through the University’s Adult Degree Program. With newly renovated classroom space, options for corporate meeting rentals and developing plans for expanding graduate and continuing education opportunities at this site, this new 6,300 square foot location intends to further cultivate Belmont’s influence in Williamson County.


Belmont Announces It Will Apply to Host Second Presidential Debate in 2016

2008 Town Hall Presidential Debate on Belmont’s campus scored highest viewership, brought media spotlight to Nashville

Debate08Belmont University confirmed today that it will apply to host a 2016 presidential or vice presidential debate and will officially submit its proposal to the Commission on Presidential Debates prior to the March 31 deadline. Belmont previously hosted the 2008 Town Hall Presidential Debate, moderated by NBC News’ Tom Brokaw, between then candidates Sen. John McCain and Sen. Barack Obama. The 2008 Town Hall Presidential Debate, the first to be held in Tennessee and the only one in which questions to the candidates were asked by citizen participants, scored a ratings coup both nationwide and locally.

Belmont University President Dr. Bob Fisher said, “It was an incredible honor for our campus to participate so directly in such a vital element of our nation’s governing process six years ago. We believe our students, this University, the city of Nashville and the state of Tennessee all received tremendous civic, educational and economic benefits from the entire experience. Belmont has clearly established itself as a place where students and citizens can engage in important conversations that are imperative to our community and our nation. We are excited to compete again for this opportunity, and I have every reason to believe that Belmont can once again succeed as a presidential debate site.”

According to Nielsen Media Ratings, more than 63.2 million homes nationwide tuned in to view the 2008 Town Hall Presidential Debate on Tues., Oct. 7, the largest television audience of the three presidential debates held that fall. In addition, the event attracted thousands of media and other visitors to Nashville and resulted in both an economic boost and more than 5,200 media hits in the days leading up to and following the debate. A writer for USA Today even noted, “Belmont University in Nashville proved that small places with big ambitions could be world-class stages.”


Belmont University Celebrates MLK Day with Two Weeks of Special Events

mlk day 2014-155In celebration of the Jan. 19 anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.’s birth date, Belmont University will hold two weeks of special events. The University’s theme for 2015 is “Living Memory: Bringing Dr. King’s Vision into the Present Day.” The University’s commitment to Martin Luther King Jr. Week through classroom and special events began in 1997 and continues to grow today.

Dr. Peter Kuryla, associate professor of history and chairman of Belmont’s 2015 Martin Luther King Jr. Commemorative Committee, said, “When the committee met this fall to plan our program, it was clear to us that current events will and should inevitably inform how we commemorate the life and legacy of Dr. King this year. To somehow refuse to acknowledge our current racial climate and the protests that have developed around events in Ferguson, Missouri and Staten Island would be to indulge in what the novelist Ralph Ellison once described as the ‘fantasies [that] become operative whenever the nation grows weary of the struggle toward the ideal of American democratic equality.’ In that spirit, we chose the theme ‘Living Memory: Bringing Dr. King’s Vision into the Present Day.’ With this theme in mind and in keeping with Dr. King’s prophetic social vision, we’ve brought together programming that considers the legacy of the movement in light of present-day concerns. We look forward to a campus-wide conversation.”


Grant Inspires Study, Renewal of Campus Worship

communion chapel-108

As part of the worship grant outcomes, students in Matt Chenoweth’s ceramics class this past semester created plates and chalices, which were used for communion in Wednesday’s opening Chapel.

Following a submission from Associate Professor of Theology Dr. Steve Guthrie, Belmont University was awarded a $14,300 “Vital Worship” grant last summer from the Calvin Institute of Christian Worship with funding provided by the Lilly Endowment. Connected in part to the opening in August of Belmont’s new Chapel, the grant focuses on two broad goals for 2014-15: to inform Belmont’s worship as a campus community and to encourage the community to fully inhabit the new worship space.

The grant funded a number of new initiatives during the fall semester, including a weekday morning prayer session in the Chapel which will continue this spring. (Students, staff and faculty are invited to attend Morning Prayer in the Chapel, each weekday from 7:30 to 7:50 a.m.). The grant also has funded a series of chapel speakers, addressing worship from various perspectives. Dr. Karen Swanson from the Institute for Prison Ministry talked about worship in prison settings; art historian Dr. Daniel Siedell considered worship and modern art; and local pastors Rev. Aaron Bryant, Rev. Joshua Caler and Father Dexter Brewer talked about worship in the Baptist, Episcopal and Catholic traditions, respectively. A number of additional speakers are planned for this spring including sociologist Dr. Gerardo Marti (Worship Across the Racial Divide) and Nigerian-American author and poet Enuma Okoro.

“We want to learn from our neighbors,” Guthrie said. “We’d like to hear about the distinctive practices of the different churches worshiping around us in Nashville. We’ve also made an effort to look at worship through a number of different lenses. For instance, we’ve asked: What can we learn about worship from those who worship in prison? What can worship practices teach us about race in America? And how can modern art and its use in sacred spaces help us to think more deeply about worship?”


Taylor Swift “Obsessed” With Belmont Student Mash-Up

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Photo by Belmont alumna and video producer Blythe Thomas

Belmont students Louisa Wendorff, junior songwriting major, Devin Dawson, senior songwriting major, Jacob Durrett, sophomore audio engineering technology major and 2014 alumna Blythe Thomas received the Christmas gift of a lifetime when their Taylor Swift mash-up was noticed by the country music star herself.

The song is an arrangement of Swift’s “Blank Space” and “Style” and features Wendorff and Dawson in a folk/acoustic style duet. The video, created and produced by Thomas, showcases both singer-songwriters and the song’s audio was done by Durrett.

To endorse Wendorff and Dawson’s rendition of her popular songs, Swift tweeted the link to the video on Dec. 27 with one word – “OBSESSED.” In addition to Swift’s post, the mash-up cover has been featured on TIME, TeenVogue, Huffington Post and Entertainment Weekly, among others.

Since the song’s coverage, Wendorff’s EP has grown to #2 on the iTunes singer songwriter chart and #57 on the overall charts.

To view the video, click here. For additional mash-ups done by Wendorff, click here.

Belmont University Launches Seminar Series for Local High School Students

class-118Belmont University’s College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences (CLASS) recently launched its newest program, CLASS Seminars, for area high school students to attend lectures and participate in collaborative experiences in education, humanities and social sciences.

Comprised of 24 sessions, the series begins in the Spring of participants’ sophomore year and continues through the Fall of their senior year. Students in the program will attend cultural events such as the Nashville Shakespeare Festival winter performances and the Belmont Humanities Symposium. The remaining sessions will be seminars presented by Belmont professors and other experts in the community.

The program’s inaugural class, selected from an applicant pool of 113 nominees, is made up of 26 students from 10 Davidson County high schools and will begin in January with the Nashville Shakespeare Festival’s performance of “Twelfth Night.”

The program is designed to educate students on what the humanities and social sciences have to offer and introduce them to subject matter that might not be covered in their daily high school curriculum. After completing the seminar series, participants will have a better understanding of where their interests lie and possible collegiate majors that could be a natural fit.  In addition to participating in educational lectures and experiences, students will complete community service projects, a required aspect of the CLASS Seminars. (more…)

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