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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.”

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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.”

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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Belmont Remembers Dr. Mike Awalt, Trusted Colleague, Mentor and Friend

Mike Awalt“As one of those who knew him best so eloquently put it, his like will not soon pass our way again,” said Dr. John Paine, Belmont professor of English and French, when remembering Professor Emeritus, trusted colleague and beloved friend Dr. Mike Awalt. Dr. Awalt died recently following a battle against cancer–he had spent more than 40 years teaching at the University.

Awalt began his career at Belmont in 1970 as a professor in the Theology and Philosophy Departments. Years later, he would go on to chair the Department of Philosophy before founding Belmont’s Teaching Center, a resource that continues to provide support, assistance and programming for faculty members to hone their craft. Awalt helped establish the Center in 1994 after successfully receiving $100,000 in grants for its development.

Dr. Awalt believed in the power of education and teaching and was deeply committed to contributing to Belmont’s status as a distinguished teaching institution, Paine said. Among the many things he learned from Mike, one of the most memorable was the ability to listen in a meaningful way that encourages collaboration, learning and engagement.

“I don’t think I learned truly to listen in class until I witnessed Mike do this. He allowed what I now think of as creative silences, posing a question that could be approached from several angles and waited patiently and silently for responses. Sometimes we, as teachers, become all too enamored with the sound of our own voices. Giving over a few moments of silence seemed inevitably to lead to articulate, creative exchanges that would move our class discussion forward in unexpected directions,” Paine said. (more…)

Belmont Celebrates Achievement with Scholarship and Awards Day

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Tina Sharma receives The Heart of Belmont Award

During Wednesday’s Scholarship and Awards Day convocation in the Massey Performing Arts Center, Belmont’s top students and faculty were honored for their commitment to the University’s mission and dedication to scholarship, service and leadership. Chemistry Professor Dr. Kim Daus, the 2013-14 Chaney Distinguished Professor, gave the ceremony’s Honors Address and discussed heroes and how they improve our lives. Citing a recent study that showed the prevalence of heroes closely related to members of Generation Next, Daus charged attendees to make a difference in the lives of others and left the audience with lyrics from a Harry Chapin song, one of Daus’s self-proclaimed heroes. “Now if a man tried to take his time on Earth and prove before he died what one man’s life could be worth, I wonder what would happen to this world.”

The presentation of the annual John Williams Heart of Belmont Award is greatly anticipated each year as one student is recognized for their commitment to Belmont’s values including innovation, persistence, advocacy for change, community development and service. The 2015 recipient, Tina Sharma, is a double major studying applied discrete mathematics and economics and when she isn’t working on assignments, completing duties associated with her leadership roles or internships, Tina said her time at Belmont has been “unconditionally poured into working as a community activist.”

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