Dr. Jesse Register, the director of Metro Nashville Public Schools, spoke with students and faculty today in the Baskin Center on the topic “Linking Academic Excellence and Diversity.” Register, who began his career as an English teacher, is a nationally-recognized expert in urban education. His remarks in today’s academic lecture convocation centered on insights garnered from “America’s Perfect Storm: Three Forces Changing Our Nation’s Future,” a 2006 report that highlights how changing socioeconomic conditions are impacting education.
“The first point this report makes is that there’s a widening disparity in literacy and numeracy skills among our school-age and adult populations,” Register said, pointing to decreasing graduation rates as one indicator. In 1969, high school graduation rates peaked at 77 percent but have dropped significantly since that time.
Belmont professors selected five times since 2000 for statewide honor
Belmont University’s Dr. Mike Pinter, professor of mathematics and director of the Teaching Center, was named today as the 2012 Tennessee Professor of the Year, an award selection determined by The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching and the Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE). Dr. Pinter, who is currently in Washington, D.C. for special ceremonies to receive his award, was selected from nearly 300 top professors in the United States. Belmont will be holding its own celebration to honor Dr. Pinter on Nov. 27 from 3-5 p.m. in the Vince Gill Room in the Curb Event Center on campus.
“I’m very excited about receiving the award which will stand as one of the highlights of my teaching career,” Pinter said. “I’m honored to have been nominated by Belmont. I am also humbled by the knowledge that I’m surrounded by many gifted and dedicated teachers among our Belmont faculty whose efforts are not being publicly noted. Mostly, I’m grateful to have creative and hard-working students and colleagues who help me to continually develop by challenging me to keep my imagination alive for teaching and learning ideas.”
Belmont University Provost Dr. Thomas Burns added, “Belmont strives to be a leader among teaching universities. Dr. Mike Pinter’s achievements reflect our deep commitment to our students and their success. Dr. Pinter is an active scholar, a dedicated mentor and a committed teacher. His selection as Tennessee Professor of the Year recognizes his continued pursuit of excellence in teaching and his service to our students and his colleagues. With this award, and with Dr. Pinter’s role as the Director of the Belmont University Teaching Center, we are both thankful and extremely proud to have him represent Tennessee’s teaching community.”
After growing up on the family dairy farm in Morrilton, Arkansas, Dr. Pinter graduated from Hendrix College (Conway, Ark.). He holds advanced degrees from the University of Mississippi (M.Ed. in College Student Personnel Work) and Vanderbilt University (an M.S. and Ph.D. in Mathematics). In addition to serving as a Belmont faculty member in the Department of Mathematics and Computer Science since 1989, Dr. Pinter has held numerous positions within the Belmont community. From 1998-2002, he was associate dean for the School of Sciences, and he served as director of the Teaching Center from 2003-06, a position he now holds again. During 2007-08, he filled the role of interim dean for the College of Arts and Sciences. In addition to regularly teaching general education mathematics courses and the upper-level combinatorics course, he also teaches Analytics: Math Models for students in the Honors Program and a First-Year Seminar course that focuses on issues related to limitations (including disabilities). Dr. Pinter is married to Dr. Robbie Pinter who has been a Belmont English Department faculty member since 1984. Their son Nicholas is a recent Benton Hall Academy graduate.
On Thursday, Nov. 8, critically acclaimed poet Adam Clay spoke at Belmont University about his most recent publication, A Hotel Lobby at the End of the World, as part of a new annual reader series put on by the Department of English. The series is the brainchild of Dr. Gary McDowell, a poetry and creative writing professor who attended the same graduate program as Clay.
Titled “The Deep Song Reading Series,” the goal of the series is to bring working writers onto Belmont’s campus. “We forget that poetry is still be written today, and people don’t get to hear [it],” said McDowell. McDowell himself has published several poems, and he hopes to encourage students who have an interest in all forms of writing.
One of more than 300 chapters nationally, the Belmont Chapter of the Public Relations Student Society of America received two national awards at the 2012 PRSSA National Conference, held Oct. 12-16 in San Francisco. Belmont students brought home four national student awards.
Belmont PRSSA received the Outstanding Regional Conference Award for the PRSSA Region 5 Conference held on campus March 30 and 31, attracting 125 students from 14 chapters in several states. The award specifically recognizes the overall benefit the conference gives to PRSSA members. The Chapter was commended for planning and executing a conference with speakers including public relations professionals from the Dallas Cowboys, HGTV, Cracker Barrel, Cision, IBM and Bonnaroo.
The Chapter also received a fourth PRSSA Star Chapter Award, presented annually since 2009 to recognize a handful of chapters meeting 10 criteria of excellence including ethics advocacy, chapter development and community service.
Yale University Professor Stephen L. Carter, author of this year’s First Year Seminar common book, Civility: Manners, Morals, and the Etiquette of Democracy, reflected on the nature of civility and politics during an address last night in the Curb Event Center. Carter laid the groundwork for his speech with a definition from his book: “Civility is the sum of the many sacrifices we are called to make for the sake of living together.”
He went on to describe how politics aren’t less civil than in the 19th century, but rather modern citizens are simply exposed to much more political talk and action due to lengthier campaign seasons, round-the-clock media coverage and the radical and uncompromising nature currently seen among political parties.
Carter said, “The reason hot button issues are so divisive is because both sides have a point. We may choose a side, but that doesn’t mean the other side has nothing intelligent to say.”
Carter pointed to noted historian Richard Hofstadter’s views on reactionary politics, noting they had three key aspects: a dismissal of opposing views, an appeal to emotion and blame. The political process that supports that approach leads down a dangerous path, Carter argued, creating a constant reinforcement of similar ideas and an inability to rationally examine complex issues.
“If we spend all our time with those who agree with us, those who disagree with us seem stranger and stranger… Then we don’t exercise our argumentative muscles because why argue with people we believe are stupid or evil? Part of the complexity civility demands of us—because remember that civility is a sacrifice—is realizing the other fellow may have a point.”
Carter closed the First Year Seminar lecture by advocating for civility in daily life. “If we can’t make politics more civil, then we should at least make our interactions with one another more civil. One of the important things in how we look at each other is if we can see the spark of God in one another.”
Stephen L. Carter is the William Nelson Cromwell Professor of Law at Yale, where he has taught for almost 30years. He is the author of seven acclaimed works of nonfiction. At Yale, Carter teaches courses on law and religion, intellectual property, contracts, professional responsibility, lying and secrets, and the ethics of warfare. He has received eight honorary degrees and published five novels, in addition to dozens of articles in law reviews, and many op-ed columns in the nation’s leading newspapers. He appears frequently on radio and television. Born in Washington, D.C., Carter was educated in the public schools of Washington, New York City, and Ithaca, New York. He received his bachelor’s degree in history from Stanford in 1976, graduating with Honors and Distinction. In 1979, he received his law degree from Yale, where he was a Notes Editor of the Yale Law Journal. Following law school, he served as a law clerk for Judge Spottswood W. Robinson, III, of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, and then to Justice Thurgood Marshall of the Supreme Court of the United States.