A new academic year kicked off officially on Wednesday with the traditional Opening Convocation to celebrate the first day of classes for the fall semester. Following the singing of University Hymn “Jesus Is the Christ” and the Alma Mater, along with an opening prayer by Vice President for Spiritual Direction Dr. Todd Lake, Provost Dr. Thomas Burns welcomed the gathered crowd, calling attention to several items that illustrate this year’s campus theme, “Through the Eyes of Others.”
In addition to Belmont’s commitment to KIVA and the recent partnership with Live Beyond, Burns pointed to the upcoming Oct. 3 First Year Seminar (FYS) convocation with Christian missionaries Keren Madora and Kristine Diggins. Kristine is the daughter of Keren Madora and Dan Everett, the author of FYS common book, Don’t Sleep, There Are Snakes.
“I challenge you,” Burns remarked, “as you participate in these activities, to make new connections – between people, between ideas, between actions – and to find the courage to make a difference in our world. I invite you to struggle with questions which have no easy answers. May we welcome those struggles, embrace them and let them transform the way we view and live in our world. Not every University will dare ask this much of its membership, but that’s why all of us have chosen to be part of Belmont University.”
With a goal to enhance the student experience, Belmont Dining Services, provided by Sodexo, will launch several new initiatives this fall as well as open two new popular chain restaurant locations on campus.
An express version of McAlister’s Deli, serving the popular chain’s top 25 best-selling items, opens Aug. 12 in the former spot of Buzzy’s candy store on Belmont Blvd. While the chain has expanded into Middle Tennessee in recent years with shops in Brentwood, Cool Springs and Murfreesboro, this will be the first McAlister’s in Nashville.
Meanwhile, a Papa John’s branch will be added to the former Quizno’s spot in Curb Cafe. The pizza shop will offer both eight-inch individual size pizzas as well as 16-inch pies. The site will open for business on Monday, Aug. 19.
Director of Dining Services Kyle Grover said, “This past year Dining Services hosted four student focus groups, and we asked students what food options they wanted on campus. Adding McAlister’s and Papa John’s will meet the students’ needs.”
The cafeteria, located in the Gabhart Student Center, adds a Simple Servings station that offers allergy sufferers (gluten, lactose, shellfish, etc.) meal options free of instigating allergens. In addition, Sodexo has partnered with MyFitnessPal.com to include more than 1,200 recipes on the site so diners can scan an item in line and immediately have access to nutritional information on the website. Sodexo is also instituting Qbot, a rewards program that offers free products when users reach certain pre-set milestones in purchases.
To give students even more options for dining, Bruin Bucks can be used at several off-campus vendors, allowing students to enjoy meals at locations beyond the cafeteria, Curb Cafe, Bruin Grounds, What’s Bruin and Corner Court. In addition to using Bruin Bucks in Belmont’s on campus eateries and pharmacy, students can use the system at Subway, Chago’s, Kalamata’s, Noshville and Papa John’s as well as at the new campus locations of Papa John’s and McAlister’s. An announcement will be made soon regarding new additions to the Bruin Bucks program.
All of the new options are a precursor to Fall 2015 when the new Academic and Dining Services complex is scheduled to open. Fred Puffenberger, senior director of auxiliary enterprises, said, “We are excited about the opportunity to offer the additional on-campus food options to our student body. These additions along with expanding our partnerships with several new off campus vendor Bruin Bucks partners is another step in the continuation of enhancing the student experience here at Belmont.”
Dining services partner Sodexo invests in project; Extensive campus growth contributes to University’s significant economic impact in Middle Tennessee
This afternoon Belmont University broke ground on a new academic and dining services complex that is anticipated to cost $55 million, bringing the University’s total investment in construction projects since 2003 to a staggering $442 million. In addition, campus dining services provider Sodexo announced today that the company is investing in the construction as part of their ongoing partnership with Belmont University.
Belmont President Dr. Bob Fisher said, “Like all of our projects, this new complex is being designed to add to the quality of life and the improvement of learning for the entire Belmont community, especially our students. I’m proud that these additions to our physical campus also impact our local economy and culture, creating thousands of jobs right here in Nashville and further cementing our city’s reputation as the Athens of the South.”
The new dining services complex will be one part of a four-story 116,000-square-foot building, and it will provide a seating capacity that is 2.5 times larger than the current campus cafeteria. Beyond supporting the construction costs, Sodexo also announced today that it would provide 20 full meal plans at no cost to support the University’s “Bridges to Belmont” program that was officially launched at an event this morning.
In discussing Sodexo’s 20-years as Belmont’s dining services provider, Sodexo Senior Vice President Fred Formichella said, “From day one we’ve been considered a partner, not a vendor like what sometimes occurs at other campuses. [Belmont’s] vision and mission talk about excellence, and you really work to be the best at what you do. We at Sodexo get that, and we look forward to being your partner for many years to come.”
Belmont Vice President and Chief of Staff Dr. Susan West added, “Focus groups were conducted with students, faculty and staff to get their ideas about dining options and the overall aesthetics for this new facility. That information was compiled and shared with the parties responsible for the building’s design. I am proud to report that, due to those good efforts, our campus community will benefit greatly from improved dining services in this facility. Anyone with additional suggestions or input is welcome to contact me as this project begins to take shape.”
Classrooms and faculty/staff offices will comprise approximately 70 percent of the building. Several academic programs—including music business and media studies—have been invited to submit proposals for how occupying the new space could creatively enhance their efforts or provide opportunities for greater innovation within their units.
The new facility will also include the construction of a 1,000 space underground parking garage. With this addition, Belmont will have added a grand total of more than 4,800 new parking spaces to campus since 2003. Site preparation has begun, and blasting for the garage is scheduled to begin April 1. The complex, which is aiming for LEED certification, is expected to open for the fall semester of 2015.
In addition to this project, Belmont continues to invest in the physical campus to enhance the resources the institution can offer its growing student body. The University reached a record-breaking enrollment of 6,647 students last fall, more than double the counts from a mere decade ago.
Bridges to Belmont program immerses local students in summer program to foster academic success
Thanks to a new full scholarship program from Belmont University, 25 Metro Nashville high school seniors will receive the opportunity to attend college next year. The Bridges to Belmont program is designed to enroll high potential students from Metro Nashville Public Schools who may not have previously been able to consider Belmont as an option.
Belmont University President Bob Fisher said, “We believe every young person has potential for great success with the biggest challenge often being simply the absence of opportunity. This is Belmont’s attempt to step up and provide that opportunity to high potential students here in Nashville. Of all the projects we’ve undertaken in the past decade, I can’t think of any that make me more proud to be at Belmont.”
In addition to the full scholarships, the Bridges to Belmont program will focus on creating a learning and service environment to empower students’ personal passion to meet the needs of the world. Bridge students will live and work on campus the summer prior to enrollment while attending an intensive institute that will allow them to take full advantage of the opportunities the college environment will offer. Programming will focus on quantitative reasoning, writing, public speaking skills and research methods as well as on creating a community of learners. The summer immersion program also will include community service and social activities for participants.
The pilot Bridges to Belmont program is open to students from Maplewood and Stratford High Schools for the 2013-2014 academic year and eventually could expand to include other Metro Nashville Public Schools. The charter Bridge class members will be nominated by principals at each high school. Preferred candidates for the 25 available slots will be taking a college prep curriculum and feature strong recommendations regarding academic motivation and personal character. (Click here to view video highlights of Tuesday’s press conference.)
“The Bridges to Belmont program will be life-changing for the students selected,” said Metro Schools’ Director Dr. Jesse Register. “The opportunity to attend Belmont tuition-free, as well as participate in the summer transition program, is a tremendous example of how the community can and does support our schools and our students. Belmont is a great partner for Metro Schools, and today’s announcement is another example of how this partnership is bringing lasting benefits to individual students and our community. I want to thank President Fisher and everyone who has worked to make this program a reality.”
In appreciation of their impact through the years, today Belmont University celebrated the naming of its newest residence hall in honor of the Horrell family. Designed by EOA Architects with construction by R.C. Mathews, the suite-style residence hall offers 190 residential spaces for Belmont students and sits adjacent to Dickens Hall, another new residence structure that opened in August. The need for additional residence space comes as a result of Belmont’s significant enrollment expansion from 2,976 students in 2000 to more than 6,600 last fall.
The relationship between the Horrell family and Belmont began in 1963 when then President Herbert Gabhart requested advice and assistance from Henry Horrell, founder of Nashville’s Horrell Company, which recently celebrated 57 years in commercial real estate.
Henry Horrell served on the Belmont Board of Trustees for 13 years and chaired the Board from 1970-77. In addition, Belmont’s signature Rose Garden was inspired and funded by Henry’s wife, Kathleen. Two of Henry and Kathleen’s sons graduated from Belmont with Steve now serving on the Board of Trustees.
Belmont President Dr. Bob Fisher said, “The Horrells have demonstrated their commitment to Belmont in countless ways through a friendship that has lasted more than 50 years. In naming this new residence hall in their honor, we will remind future generations of their incredible kindness and generous spirit as well as the sustaining contributions they have made to Belmont University.”