Loyola University Vice-Provost Dr. Thom Spence to join Belmont
Dr. Thom Spence has been named as the founding dean of Belmont University’s new College of Sciences and Mathematics. Spence currently serves as the vice-provost for institutional effectiveness, assessment and student success at Loyola University (New Orleans, La.), where he has been a faculty member since 1999. Spence will begin his new position on Belmont’s campus July 1.
Currently, Belmont’s College of Arts & Sciences (CAS) is the University’s largest college with 130 full-time faculty members and 15 academic departments within four schools. Due to extensive growth as well as recognition of the complexity of the College, Belmont will create two colleges out of the former CAS. Spence will lead the new College of Sciences and Mathematics (CSM), which will include undergraduate majors in the biology, chemistry, physics, mathematics, computer science and psychological sciences fields. CSM will be housed in the new Wedgewood Academic Center that is under construction at the corner of Wedgewood and 15th Avenues and is scheduled to open this fall.
Belmont Provost Dr. Thomas Burns said, “Belmont’s focus on developing extraordinary academic programs provides the backdrop for the creation of two colleges from our current College of Arts and Sciences. This new organizational structure will allow all of the programs in the College of Arts and Sciences opportunities for increased prominence and student focus. I am extremely pleased to announce Dr. Spence—a leader who is committed to student and faculty development, undergraduate research and community engagement—as the founding dean of the College of Sciences and Mathematics. Dr. Spence’s hiring not only brings an accomplished scientist to our campus, but his appointment allows Belmont to provide even greater focus on all of our science, technology and math programs as we work together to help prepare our graduates to engage and transform our world.”
Spence added, “I am very excited to be joining the College of Sciences and Mathematics at Belmont. This new college is poised to become a strong attractor for students interested in the STEM [science, technology, engineering and math] fields by offering excellent instruction in small classes with meaningful undergraduate research opportunities. I am grateful to be joining Belmont during this exciting time in its history.”
Aspiring teachers are receiving hands-on experience with at-risk youth through a unique partnership between the Belmont School of Education and local public, inner city schools. A four-hour professional core class, a requirement for education major and minors, puts Belmont students onsite at Murrell School, Magnet Middle School, Pearl Cohn Entertainment Magnet High School and Glendale Spanish Immersion Elementary School for reading clinics, tutoring session and classroom observation.
“Belmont students often do not have inner city experience when they come to the University. This is enhancing the learning of our teacher candidates,” said Education Professor Joy Kimmons. Metro Nashville Public Schools has hired several Belmont alumni who participated in her class as full-time teachers or student teachers.
On a recent winter morning, Belmont students met in at Pearl Cohn for their 45-minute lecture with Kimmons.
“Physical activity can alter the mood of a student who has trouble in the classroom,” Kimmons said to her class of 28 students meeting in the teachers’ planning room before their individual three 30-minute tutoring sessions with Pearl Cohn students. Next, they spend an hour with their paired high school teachers to facilitate small groups as well as observe and assist in classrooms. Belmont students end the on-site session by regrouping with Kimmons and their peers to debrief through conversations that connect their textbook theories with their hands-on experiences.
Associate Professor of Chemistry Dr. Alison Moore and the Student Members of the American Chemical Society (SMACS) led an interactive crime-solving event for students last Thursday during a convocation event. With a theme reminiscent of the popular CBS TV series “CSI,” students were challenged to play the role of Crime Scene Investigators and draw conclusions about a hypothetical crime based on their research.
Students looked at evidence including fingerprints, DNA analysis and gas chromatography–mass spectrometry (GC-MS) analysis, which identifies different substances within a test sample. The students also investigated footprints and the ink chromatography of a note to evaluate suspects in a supposed murder. Evidence was used to include or exclude suspects during the investigation.
“It was cool to have a convocation event that allowed me to learn the material interactively instead of simply listening and taking notes,” senior Josh Hoelker said. “I was fascinated to see how the evidence came together to pin the guilty suspect.”
Earlier in the week, the “CSI: Belmont” experience also offered a visit from a training specialist from the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation (TBI), who talked about the educational background required to work in crime investigation as well as the training investigators go through after they get the job.
While working at local app development company Aloompa, Belmont senior Bryn Bodayle partnered with photographer Jeremy Cowart as the primary IOS developer for OKDOTHIS, an iOS app that provides an idea community for photography. The app has been steadily climbing the Apple App Store charts since its launch in late November. Aloompa, which was co-founded by two Belmont alumni, specializes in mobile apps for music, food, conference and community events.
OKDOTHIS allows users to share both their favorite photos and the creative ideas (“DOs”) that led to it. Users can connect with other photographers, become inspired by their DOs, and watch as their DOs spark the creativity of others. Recent examples of inspiring “DOs”include “Use car headlights to light a subject” and “Show off a piece of art that a friend made.”
“It has been great to work on an app of such scale and potential. It’s been incredibly rewarding to see how users have used the app as a creative tool,” Bodayle said. “It’s really a new kind of social network, and I’m excited to see it continue to grow.”
Five Belmont sophomores are working hard this month to build a movement to address the national debt, a figure that currently stands at over $17 trillion. Belmont “Up to Us” formed last fall when the five students–Paul Shaw (international business), Jawon Taylor (political science), Sordum Ndam (political science), Olivia Nishi (corporate communications) and Lindsay Bond-Harris (music business)–applied to participate in the national Up to Us competition, which is sponsored by the Peter G. Peterson Foundation, Clinton Global Initiative University (CGI U) and Net Impact. The Belmont team was selected as one of 25 teams nationwide and is competing against teams from Duke, Cal State-Fullerton, Northwestern, Oklahoma State, Rice, George Washington and New York University, among others, with the contest set to end this Friday, Feb. 21.
The group was first interested in the competition as a means to have hands-on experience in a campaign that would benefit their diverse studies in political science, business and communications. However, this campaign has hit a nerve for all of them. Noting that $17 trillion is a difficult figure to grasp and contextualize, Ndam said, “You start telling people how serious this is, and the more you repeat these facts, the more you begin to realize how truly serious an issue it is… I’m afraid of the uncertainty of it all.”
“We want people to be thinking about the national debt and get discussion going,” said Bond-Harris. “We’re not asking for answers, but we do want people to get involved in finding answers.”