Sanders Explores Land, Life Lessons at Pine Ridge

SandersRising senior social work major Rebecca Sanders trekked many miles and asked many difficult questions during Professor Dr. Andy Watt’s Maymester program as she and her team learned the history of the western U.S.’s land and people.

The trip began May 12 on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota, where Sanders met with tribal elders and local artists to hear their stories and visit important, local sites. The next stop was the Crow Reservation in Montana to learn about the Battle of Little Big Horn and Crow culture. Soon after, the group traveled to Yellowstone National Park to participate in the park’s Wolf and Bear Exploration and Cody, Wyoming for the Buffalo Bill Center of the West. The trip concluded May 29 in Keystone, South Dakota with stops at Mt. Rushmore, the Crazy Horse Memorial, Sylvan Lake and Badlands National Park.

Sanders explained that Belmont prepared her for the trip by teaching the value of a good question asked in humility. “As we traveled to two Native American reservations, the first national park and various sites along the way, we asked hard questions. We asked about the justice of American westward expansion as we learned from our Lakota and Crow friends. We asked about the health of eco-systems within Yellowstone National Park and the controversy over wolves and bison. We asked about the nature of respect owed to historical figures. Belmont has taught me to never stop asking questions,” she said.


Alumni Help Soldiers, Veterans Through ‘REBOOT Combat Recovery’

REBOOT groupAlumni Evan and Jenny Owens may not have ever gone through basic training, much less served in combat, but the couple has still developed a passion for ministering to soldiers and their families. In fact, helping soldiers overcome the spiritual wounds of war has become this couple’s mission and led to them founding REBOOT Combat Recovery in 2011.

Jenny received her B.A. from Belmont in 2005 followed by a doctorate in occupational therapy, also from Belmont, in 2007. After graduating, she worked in neuro-rehabilitation at Vanderbilt and then with patients suffering traumatic brain injuries at the Warrior Resiliency and Recovery Center at Fort Campbell’s Blanchfield Army Community Hospital.

Jenny said, “I will never forget my first soldier patient. He was young, strong, handsome and totally intimidating. He seemed absolutely out of place among the wheelchairs and walkers that scattered the clinic. But, upon getting to know him, I came to recognize the invisible wounds that no less affected his mind and spirit. He was involved in a rocket attack at a gym in Iraq. It was a mass casualty situation. He dragged his workout buddy to safety before he even recognized that he was also injured. His greatest desire was to be returned to full duty and deploy, once again, with his unit to Afghanistan. But he had memory problems, trouble finding his way around, problems getting his words out, headaches and visual disturbances. Anxiety, a thing that had been completely foreign to him, bubbled under the surface… This is why REBOOT exists. This soldier is who we exist for. Because this soldier patient is one of a million like him.”


Belmont Launches Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowships

Students participate in chemistry and physics research throughout the summer as part of research fellowship program


Photo provided by Sarah Cannavino – Viverevita photography

What’s the concentration of vitamins in orange juice? How can waste destruction processes be improved? What are the benefits (or lack of) in buying organic produce? Those are just a few of the research questions being tackled by sixteen students participating in Belmont’s Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowships, or SURFs, program.

Based on the vision of Chemistry and Physics Department Chair Dr. Robert Magruder and supported by six faculty members, SURFs offers a unique opportunity for students studying chemistry and physics to try their hand at a long-term research project. For some, the summer will be spent working on senior projects, a requirement for graduation. Other participants are continuing work thought up by their research advisor and project mentor.

Dean of the College of Sciences and Mathematics Dr. Thom Spence said SURFs  came out of the desire to strengthen the undergraduate research culture at Belmont and allow students the opportunity to engage in research early in their collegiate careers. Designed to augment the established Summer Scholars Program which supports the research of 23 rising seniors in the Biology Department, the SURFs program affords students the opportunity to engage in research early in their collegiate careers. Emphasizing the difference between learning science and engaging with it, Spence said both aspects of a scientific education are vital to a student’s success.


Dallas Heads to Broadway, Gets Backstage Look at Career Goals

Sam DallasFor senior music business major Samuel Dallas, this summer has been one giant learning experience after another, producing “Wicked” results that continue to fuel Dallas’s long term goals.

After spending the spring semester working as an assistant to the creative team at a Broadway workshop, Dallas received a recommendation for a summer internship split between two production companies, Stone Productions and 321 Theatrical Management. The combined full time positions have given Dallas the opportunity to work on a variety of shows including “Wicked,” “25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee” and “Next to Normal,” among others.

Working in the Broadway General Manager’s Office at 321 and the Broadway Producing Office at Stone, Dallas spends his days assisting with running the show behind the scenes including financial wraps, managing front of house, working with investor distributions and payroll.

With sights set on ultimately producing and managing his own shows some day, Dallas said the choice to spend the summer in New York City was an easy one. Working under mentors who have developed long and sustainable careers on Broadway, Dallas knows he’s learning from the best. “These people have done it all and know the ins and out of the industry – and I believe you can only be as good as your teacher,” Dallas said. “Learning from these amazing leaders gets me excited to come into work everyday.”

Although all the shows managed and produced by 321 and Stone have provided invaluable learning opportunities this summer, Dallas looks to “Wicked” as the one he’s most grateful for. “The show is an amazing learning tool because of its strength and long-running history in the industry. Hands-on experience with shows in the office allow me to learn by doing.”

Dallas credits much of his success to his network, community  and the opportunities that have come from his time at Belmont. Without the experiences he has been offered within the industry, Dallas said he wouldn’t have had the credibility needed to land his ideal summer job. “Belmont has allowed me to get unique hands-on experience with the industry. I’m not a number, I’m a person,” Dallas said. “I have been able to use the opportunities throughout campus and Nashville to build my resume and make it strong enough to come to New York City and dive into the Broadway administration community.”


Belmont Contributes to NAC&U Publication Focused on Increasing Student Learning

Teagle-funded project examines holistic departments

RedefiningCoverFaculty and administrators from Belmont University contributed to created “Redefining the Paradigm: Faculty Models to Support Student Learning” – a monograph that encourages colleges and universities to more effectively structure departments to address changes in higher education and better support student learning. Over the past two years, Dr. Martha Buckner (Nursing), Dr. Jeff Kirk (Music), Dr. Stan York (Business), Dr. Beverly Schneller (Associate Provost) and Dr. Bryce Sullivan (College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences Dean) worked with colleagues throughout the New American Colleges and Universities (NAC&U) consortium on this Teagle Foundation-funded project to study and make recommendations on holistic departments and faculty evaluation methods.

Belmont Associate Provost for Academic Affairs Dr. Beverly Schneller said, “The chief value of the ideas and strategies reflected in this volume resides in the ways the chapters will spark conversations about the future of the teaching profession, the ways we can lead conversations about innovation and transformation in student learning, and how we can start to think of what teaching and learning might look like in an academy of the future where emphasis is placed on collaboration, practical application and fresh infusion of the role of the liberal arts in society.”


Local Science Teachers Learn Budget Friendly Lab Experiences in Summer Workshop

science lab class with school teachers-111Area middle and high school science and chemistry teachers learned “it’s easy being green” throughout Belmont’s Department of Chemistry and Physics’s “It’s Easy Being Green: Budget-Friendly, Safety-Conscious Chemistry Labs for the Science Classroom of Today” workshops, held three times this summer. Using neutralization reactions, 41 attendees performed green labs, highlighting preparation, safety and chemical disposal, to take back to their classrooms across the state.

The first of what event organizer and Assistant Professor of Chemistry Education Dr. Danielle Garrett hopes will become an annual event, the workshop allowed science teachers to participate in creative, budget-friendly lab experiences among peers, providing an additional resource once school begins again. “This workshop series provides classroom teachers with connections to the scientific community and a support network of Belmont faculty who are willing to answer questions and help work to develop programs to address the needs of teachers in their science classrooms,” Garrett said.

With traditional scientific lab resources requiring higher budgets and complicated waste disposal processes, green lab experiences utilize chemicals that are more budget-friendly, often  found in local stores, and don’t require costly disposal services. Green style labs can be easily adapted to any environment, curriculum level or facility. “Programs like this one help teachers incorporate functional, meaningful, environmentally friendly and low-budget labs into their classrooms,” Garrett said.

science lab class with school teachers-130Belmont alumna, workshop participant and high school chemistry teacher Katie Parks said her time at the workshop was a fantastic opportunity for professional development that can be taken back to her classroom. “Chemistry is best taught via hands-on experiences,” Parks said. “As a teacher, any time I can expand my lab offerings I jump at the opportunity. I love to learn new ways to incorporate hands-on learning into my classroom, and learning from other educators is invaluable.”

Bado Writes to Millennials on Mayoral Debate

KKirkBadoirk Bado, a rising junior politics and public law major and journalism minor, is playing a huge role in shaping the future of Nashville. Bado is one of seven students actively informing fellow millennials by profiling mayoral candidates. After his feature on candidate Linda Eskind Rebrovick was published in The Tennessean, Bado was asked to write a second piece urging Nashville’s younger crowd to vote in the upcoming election. Finally, Bado participated in the NashForward debates as Eskind Rebrovick’s liaison and participant in the town hall-style event.

As the editor of Belmont’s student newspaper, The Belmont Vision, Bado is responsible for selecting the publication’s content and tone and challenges writers in their leadership capabilities and style. Leadership is one of a few bonding topics that Bado and Eskind Rebrovick were able to discuss throughout his Nashforward experience. “I love reading and studying about leadership, so to have the opportunity to pick her brain in such a casual setting was a goldmine of learning that you don’t get in books,” he said. Through this guidance, Bado said his goal for the fall semester “is to change the stereotype of the Vision from those pesky scheming kids above Gabhart to very approachable and easy to work with writers.”

Bado said a major highlight from his debate involvement was meeting many influential people in Nashville, including President and Publisher of the Tennessean Laura Hollingsworth, and now-mentor David Plazas, host of the NashForward debates and Tennessean Opinion Engagement Editor. Through this mentorship, Bado pitched his second Tennessean article and is working with Plazas to plan a convocation program for students in the fall. “David is really helping make me into the leader and writer I aspire to be,” said Bado.

Bado (pictured at far right) with student Tennessean contributors

The second of the NashForward debates focused on the needs of the millennial generation, which makes up a large portion of Nashville’s population. With two bylines in a major metro paper under his belt, Bado explained why he is so passionate about getting his peers to pay attention. He was concerned that upon looking into the audience at the first Nashforward debate, he saw only adults and 20-somethings there by requirement. With such big decisions facing our city, Bado said he felt the room should have been packed with his peers. “So basically I emailed David and said ‘Hey I wrote this, what do you think?’ And he replied, ‘This is really good and insightful Kirk, mind if we run it?’ I was floored that he wanted to run it and said, ‘of course!'”

Throughout the Nashforward process, Bado said Plazas and his team gave generous creative control, and the students ran with it. Bado feels lucky to have been involved and made the connections that he has. “I love it here, and Belmont has become a home to me, a community I care passionately about. Belmont let me have this opportunity because I was active in seeking it,” Bado said. “It’s like what Dumbledore said to Harry Potter. ‘Help will always be given at Hogwarts to those who ask for it.’ My spin on that is – opportunities will always be given at Belmont to those who seek them.”

Belmont Chorale to Perform with Rolling Stones in Nashville June 17

LP Field show will also feature alumnus Brad Paisley as opening act


Chorale members have met on campus several times this summer to rehearse for their performance with the Rolling Stones.

Who doesn’t dream of being a rock star? For at least one day, 24 Belmont University students will see that dream realized in dramatic fashion, as they perform on stage next week with arguably the greatest rock band of all time. Led by Belmont University’s Chorale director, Dr. Jeffery Ames, the Belmont ensemble will join the Rolling Stones for a song on the band’s upcoming June 17 ZIP CODE Tour stop at Nashville’s LP field.

Ames, who serves as director of choral activities at Belmont and is a well-known conductor/composer in his own right, said the students are excited “Beyond belief, actually! Within the Belmont community, our students annually collaborate with great stars within the music industry like Trisha Yearwood, CeCe Winans, Michael W. Smith, to name a few. But a historic rock band such as the Rolling Stones? Epic….”

The Nashville show is the seventh stop on a 15-city stadium tour that began May 24 in San Diego and wraps up July 15 in Quebec. Belmont alumnus Brad Paisley will also be the opening act for the Stones’ visit to Music City.


Belmont Named Among Top 10 Most Beautiful Campuses Among Urban Colleges Nationwide

spring recently placed Belmont high on its list of the “50 Most Beautiful Urban College Campuses” in the country, recognizing the University at No. 10 among all urban universities in the United States. Understanding that college students are drawn to urban locations but still desire nature-filled settings, the website noted, “Pretty Belmont University is steeped in Southern charm and beauty.”

Belmont President Dr. Bob Fisher said, “We take great pride in creating and maintaining a campus that is both visually appealing and environmentally sustainable. Not only do these gorgeous surroundings provide our students, faculty and staff a beautiful place to study, work and play, but they also show prospective families that you can have it all—a great education and a stunning campus right in the middle of a fantastic city.”

Criteria for the award required the schools to be located in a city with a population of 100,000 or more and then measured the campuses based on prior national and international accolades, student enjoyment, notable campus features, historical significance and environmental friendliness. Other Tennessee institutions on the list were Rhodes College (No. 27) and Vanderbilt University (No. 16).

Belmont’s campus beauty was also recognized on similar lists in 2014 by both Best College Review and, which noted the “grand, elegant and strikingly beautiful buildings” as well as the iconic Bell Tower.



Maymester Trips Prove to Be Transformative Experiences

Students in Seville, Spain

Students in Seville, Spain

At the end of the spring semester, most students long for a period of relaxation, adventure and, quite frankly, a break from hours spent at the library. But rather than immediately tackling a new job or lounging by the pool, 500 Belmont students opted to study abroad this summer, many of them choosing to travel during the University’s Maymester session. The list of trips includes diverse sites like Germany, Hawaii, Spain, Brazil, Israel, Greece, Rome, China, Argentina, Costa Rica and many more.

Of particular note was “Belmont in London and Paris,” which allowed students to embark on an interdisciplinary program to discover the two major cosmopolitan capitals of Europe, through the lenses of food, film, gardens and math. Led by Dr. Mimi Barnard, Dr. Judy Bullington, Dr. Kim Daus, Will Akers and Dr. Michelle Guinn, excursions included walking tours of both cities, cooking lessons, museum visits and day trips to Oxford, Chatsworth (Jane Austen’s “Pemberley”) and Blenheim Palace in England and Versailles, and Chantilly and Giverny in France. Motion pictures major Grayson Propst created this documentary that details more about how the travel experience impacted the participants.

Logan Todd, a senior commercial percussion major, commented that his first study abroad experience, in London, was also his first time traveling outside the continental U.S. “What I took away from my study abroad program in London that I will never forget is the vastness of history in the English culture. It is everywhere. At any given time I could be standing where queens were beheaded or where a mother covered the head of her child as they huddled together in a tube station during the bombing of London. I prayed in a 700-year-old Norman chapel. I saw Shakespeare’s grave. History came to life for me in London, and I have never had a greater appreciation for feeling so small.”

Director of Study Abroad Shelley Jewell said, “As part of our institutional mission, Belmont is committed to providing students with ways to engage and transform the world. Study abroad provides a pathway to make this a reality. Our students have embraced these opportunities and are given the necessary support and encouragement from our faculty and staff in order to participate. Having more than 60 faculty involved in this process has allowed for Belmont to offer a breadth of programs that span academic majors and the globe to give students the opportunity to explore the world in an academically meaningful way.”

Students with the hashflag in front of the Berlin Wall in Germany

Students with the hashflag in front of the Berlin Wall in Germany


Samantha Hubner Interns with U.S. Department of State


Samantha Hubner, a rising senior political science major with minors in Chinese and French in the Honors Program, is spending the summer in Washington D.C. working for the U.S. State Department’s Office of Global Food Security, an office that works directly with the Obama Administration’s Feed the Future Initiative. Hubner’s story is one of determination, hard work and a dream-big attitude.

Working alongside Feed the Future, a program that concentrates on addressing development countries and world hunger, Hubner will spend the summer researching, analyzing and summarizing reports, while dabbling in event planning, too.

The U.S. China Strategic and Economic Dialogue will be held on June 23 and, as described on the website of the Department of the Treasury, “was established by President Obama and Chinese President Hu in April 2009 and represents the highest-level bilateral forum to discuss a broad range of issues between the two nations.” Hubner will assist in planning the biannual dialogue that seeks to advance a positive relationship between China and the U.S.

Working in D.C. is something that Hubner said she has always known she wanted to do, and the unique opportunity that intertwines her political interests, desire to work in foreign services and Chinese language skills is one not easily found. It took a grueling 10-month hiring process, but Hubner believes that “it is a great example of how demonstrating enthusiasm and a strong work ethic can take you anywhere you want to go!” (more…)

Belmont White Ash Recognized as Big Old Tree

Trees-123The Nashville Tree Foundation recognized one of Belmont’s biggest and oldest trees, the White Ash located on the west side of the maintenance building near the Foutch Alumni House, as one of 53 winners from this year’s Big Old Tree Contest. Belmont’s White Ash is approximately 80 years old.

Ash trees are facing a threat across the country from the Emerald Ash Borer, an invasive beetle species that is killing these trees at a rapid rate. Ash trees were once quite plentiful, and Belmont is taking preventative measures to ensure the trees will be around for many years to come.

“Belmont is committed to preserving and  protecting one of our most precious resources: our trees. Over the past 20 years we have significantly increased our awareness in tree health with certified arborist inspections, routine pruning, subsurface and deep root fertilization, borer treatment and new construction protection,” said Belmont Horticulturist Mary Weber. 

This is not the first time Belmont’s trees have been recognized, as the Hackberry near the Bell Tower, approximately 125 years old, was a big winner in 2009. The more than 200-year-old Mulberry in front of Fidelity, the 150-year-old Magnolia near Gabhart and the 150-year-old Gingko Biloba beside the Leu Art building were also winners in 1990. However, this year’s winner coincides with Belmont’s recent Conservation Covenant, Tree Campus USA recognition and 2012 official Arboretum status.

The Nashville Tree Foundation seeks to preserve and enhance Nashville’s urban forest by educating the public, planting trees in urban areas and identifying the oldest and biggest trees in Davidson County. Since its founding in 1986, the foundation has added more than 10,000 trees to the Nashville’s landscape and named 25 arboretums.

For images of all of Belmont’s recognized trees, click here.

Gibson Brands Funds $100,000 Innovation Initiative to Honor Les Paul’s 100th Birthday

“The Les Paul Music Innovation Award” (powered by Gibson) will provide annual funds to students and faculty of the Curb College of Entertainment & Music Business at Belmont

Les and HJ Smiling002Gibson Brands is providing a $100,000 fund to Belmont University in honor of Les Paul, whose 100th birthday would have been today.  “The Les Paul Music Innovation Award” (powered by Gibson) honors the life and contributions of Les Paul by funding research for faculty and students, inspiring the next generation of industry leaders to express innovation and creativity to strengthen the music economy.  It will provide annual funds to students and faculty of the Curb College of Entertainment & Music Business at Belmont.

“Les’ life and name are synonymous with talent, quality and creativity,” commented Henry Juszkiewicz, Chairman/CEO, Gibson Brands.  “To honor his legacy of being one of the best music innovators of all time, we are assisting the future generations of Belmont music students and faculty with their dreams.”

“We give our most sincere thanks to the Gibson Foundation for their generous gift bearing the name of Les Paul, a true visionary and creative genius who possessed an unmatched entrepreneurial spirit and who will inspire and support yet another generation,” stated Doug Howard, Dean of the Mike Curb College of Entertainment and Music Business, Belmont University. Les Paul was born on June 9, 1915 and became an internationally celebrated jazz, country and blues guitarist, songwriter, luthier and inventor. He is widely considered to be the single most important figure in the mass popularization of the solid-body electric guitar and is perhaps best known today for the iconic instrument he designed, the Gibson Les Paul electric guitar. He is also credited with developing many modern-day recording innovations including overdubbing, tape delay, phasing effects and multitrack recording and his innovative talents in design, songwriting and guitar playing continue to influence modern day guitarists across the world in nearly every genre of music. Among his many honors, Paul is the only person to be included in both the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and the National Inventors Hall of Fame.


Bonaparte Receives Research Fellowship for CDC

BonaparteSarah Bonaparte, a May 2015 biology graduate, was recently hired for a year-long contract through Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education for a Human Papillomavirus (HPV) serology laboratory fellowship in the chronic viral disease branch at the Center for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, Georgia.

“My research experience at Belmont with Dr. Jennifer Thomas concerning HPV and its relationship to cervical cancer not only contributed to my knowledge and experience in this particular field, but encouraged me to pursue research as a career. I am excited to be able to continue pursuing research in a field I am interested in while preparing to apply to doctorate programs for the fall of 2016,” said Bonaparte.

Bonaparte will be working as a laboratory technologist by processing samples, conducting a variety of molecular tests and performing data analysis to aid in seroepidemiologic and vaccine studies. Bonaparte’s position falls under the division of high consequence pathogens and pathology, responsible for investigating outbreaks, identifying and monitoring diseases and improving ways to diagnose, treat and prevent diseases. Under this division, the chronic viral disease branch is responsible for the research of HPV and chronic fatigue syndrome. Bonaparte will conduct vaccine and population studies regarding HPV infectivity.

Bonaparte explained her passion for working in this field. “HPV is an important and relevant topic of research because the viral infection serves as a precursor to cervical cancer. It is the most common sexually transmitted virus in the United States, and nearly all sexually active men and women will be infected in their lifetime. Developing a vaccine with maximum efficacy, as well as investigating viral infection and cancer development at varying molecular levels, has the potential to greatly reduce the incidences of cervical cancer worldwide,” she said. “I chose to work in HPV research because of its impact in cervical cancer development (as well as penile and oropharyngeal cancers in men). Broadly, I am fascinated by the role that particular viral infections play in the development of various cancers.”

Bonaparte will begin her fellowship at the end of June. Her research experience at such a well-respected institution will allow her to be a more competitive candidate when applying for graduate programs.

National Association of Black Journalists Honors Dr. Sybril Brown as Journalism Educator of the Year

sybThe National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ) recently announced the selection of Dr. Sybril Brown, professor of journalism at Belmont University, as the association’s 2015 Journalism Educator of the Year. The award recognizes the service, commitment and academic guidance of an outstanding journalism teacher, professor or educator who has helped increase the number of black journalists in newsrooms.

Also an award-winning journalist, Dr. Brown, affectionately known as Dr. Syb, started her tenure at Belmont in 2003 as the Executive Director of the New Century Journalism program and helped to raise more than $200,000 in grant funding. In 2012, she was a finalist for the Virginia Chaney Teaching Award, Belmont’s highest honor recognizing teaching excellence. She is a Vanderbilt-educated, Harvard-trained, two-time Emmy award-winning multimedia journalist, author, international speaker and presenter.

“Dr. Syb is a long-time NABJ member who achieved excellence in her career as a broadcast journalist and turned that excellence into helping train the next generation of digital storytellers,” said NABJ President Bob Butler. “She was among the vanguard that began spreading the importance of digital journalism back when newsrooms and classrooms were still relying heavily on traditional newsgathering methods. She has taken her unique set of skills and parlayed them into a reputation as one of the early leaders of color in the digital journalism revolution.”

Belmont Dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences Dr. Bryce Sullivan said, “The faculty and staff in the College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences are so pleased that Dr. Brown has been honored by the NABJ. For many years, Dr. Syb has been a faculty leader in our New Century Journalism program and in the wider academic community. Her expertise in media—and especially social media—has made a profound impact on teachers and leaders as she continually promotes the appropriate application of new technology in learning environments.”


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