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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.”


Second Annual Employee Volunteer Day Harvests Good Works, Camaraderie

‘It’s Bruin Time in the Community’ takes ‘Nashville’s University’ off campus to support hometown efforts

second harvest food bank-148Proving that many hands do indeed make light–and fun–work, more than 150 Belmont faculty and staff teamed together Thursday to volunteer at Second Harvest Food Bank of Middle Tennessee, a nonprofit founded in 1978 that works to  feed hungry people and solve hunger issues in Middle and West Tennessee. Last year alone, Second Harvest’s fleet of 19 trucks covered 533,374 miles rescuing and delivering food to a network of more than 450 partner agencies and directly to hungry children, families and seniors throughout a 46-county service area.

Belmont’s annual faculty/staff service project, which the University dubbed “It’s Bruin Time in the Community,” began last year with employees spending a morning painting at Hunters Lane High School.

This year, with Vision 2020 ideals in mind, Belmont employees registered to serve during one of two three-hour shifts as part of the University’s ongoing commitment to be “‘Nashville’s University’, aligning Belmont’s vision and resources with the ever-changing needs of the people in our community.” Divided into two teams upon arrival at Second Harvest’s Martin Distribution Center, one group was tasked with sorting enormous cartons of sweet potatoes into 5 lb bags, which would be weighed for accuracy and packed for shipping to food pantries and churches. (more…)

Educational Green Roof Brings New Life to Botany Class

biology-138With the addition of Belmont’s largest building, the Wedgewood Academic Center, students in the University’s College of Sciences and Mathematics have the opportunity to learn in state-of-the-art science labs, including Belmont’s first educationally purposed green roof.

Professor and Chair of the Biology Department Dr. Darlene Panvini teaches courses in botany and ecology, among others, and last semester, her botany class was the first to use the new space. With a green roof assignment spanning the length of the course, Dr. Panvini’s students designed projects that would answer botanical questions including how canopy density is affected by distance and how a sedum’s natural ability to cool soil would affect growth.

Through the design and implementation of these projects, the educational green roof was given new life, and for the next 10 years, students will be asking scientific questions and using the green roof as their research lab. Since the roof is self-irrigating and self-sufficient, it can endure harsh temperature changes and limited interaction. Dr. Panvini’s botany classes are scheduled biennially, so students will not be tending to the roof in the off years. With that in mind, students specifically chose plants that would be able to withstand those conditions. (more…)

Belmont University Launches Seminar Series for Local High School Students

class-118Belmont University’s College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences (CLASS) recently launched its newest program, CLASS Seminars, for area high school students to attend lectures and participate in collaborative experiences in education, humanities and social sciences.

Comprised of 24 sessions, the series begins in the Spring of participants’ sophomore year and continues through the Fall of their senior year. Students in the program will attend cultural events such as the Nashville Shakespeare Festival winter performances and the Belmont Humanities Symposium. The remaining sessions will be seminars presented by Belmont professors and other experts in the community.

The program’s inaugural class, selected from an applicant pool of 113 nominees, is made up of 26 students from 10 Davidson County high schools and will begin in January with the Nashville Shakespeare Festival’s performance of “Twelfth Night.”

The program is designed to educate students on what the humanities and social sciences have to offer and introduce them to subject matter that might not be covered in their daily high school curriculum. After completing the seminar series, participants will have a better understanding of where their interests lie and possible collegiate majors that could be a natural fit.  In addition to participating in educational lectures and experiences, students will complete community service projects, a required aspect of the CLASS Seminars. (more…)

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