Navy, Army, National Guard veteran wins Heart of Belmont Award
In a ceremony marked by numerous standing ovations, students and faculty were honored Wednesday during the annual Scholarship and Awards Day convocation in the the Massey Performing Arts Center. All of the awards given reflected Belmont’s mission and commitment to scholarship, service and leadership, with two new faculty awards, the Christian Scholarship Award and Leadership in Christian Service Award, being introduced for the first time this year. Dr. Ronnie Littlejohn, the 2013-14 Chaney Distinguished Professor, provided the morning’s Honors Address on “Knowing Whether,” encouraging attendees to pursue moral wisdom.
In one of the most moving presentations, graduating senior Matthew Thompson was awarded the John Williams Heart of Belmont Award, which is given to a student committed to Belmont’s values including innovation, persistence, advocacy for change, community development and service. Before coming to Belmont, Thompson served in the Navy on the USS George Washington for five years. In 2005, he enlisted in the Army where he served an additional four years and afterwards completed one year of service in the Tennessee National Guard. After 10 years of service and three deployments, he was honorably discharged and began pursuing a degree in social work at Belmont.
An intern at Operation Stand Down, Thompson has been integral in the development of veterans services on campus and developed an intercollegiate student veteran coalition that spans six universities across Middle Tennessee. Thompson’s mission is to continue on to a career path that assists veterans who are transitioning from military service into civilian life. In his own words, his “biggest motivation has never been to be recognized but to instead encourage and inspire others to step forward and contribute.”
Faculty gathered for lunch Wednesday to recognize the 20th anniversary of the Teaching Center and its impact on Belmont faculty.
“These are my heroes who helped make Belmont into what it is today. I will always be grateful for the leadership you have showed,” said Provost Thomas Burns. “You have helped us serve our students better. What the Teaching Center is about is making sure that we are excellent teachers and learning how we can continue to grow and develop. It is also a reality center and work-life center to develop the entire educator.”
During the luncheon, faculty were taken on a broad sweep over the center’s 20-year evolution through the words of its former directors.
Seeds for the center were planted in the early ‘90s when an academic committee of faculty, students and administrators discussed campus needs, said Teaching Center Founding Director Mike Awalt, who also taught philosophy. He and a group of faculty examined teaching centers across the country and applied for grants, eventually receiving $100,000 for the establishment of Belmont’s Teaching Center.
This week the Chronicle of Higher Education released the results of the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) 2013-14 Faculty Salary Survey, and Belmont again performed exceptionally well in comparison with its peer institutions in terms of category (Master’s level) and region of the country.
Belmont President Dr. Bob Fisher, said, “Belmont has long been committed to attracting and retaining the highest quality faculty to serve our students, and that translates in part to offering competitive compensation. I’m pleased to see how far we’ve come and how our faculty salaries now rank in the 80th percentile or better among all of our peer institutions nationally.”
Provost Dr. Thomas Burns added, “As the AAUP salary survey data shows, Belmont’s faculty salaries have grown to among the best in Tennessee and in the southeast region.”
Of the 22 Tennessee institutions in the survey, Belmont ranked fourth in the average full professor salary ranking, behind three doctoral level institutions: Vanderbilt, University of Tennessee Knoxville and University of Memphis. In addition, Belmont offered the second highest average raise for continuing full professors. Associate professors at Belmont ranked third in the state for average salary, as did assistant professors. Belmont instructors are the highest paid in terms of average state salaries. In the East South Central region—which includes Tennessee, Alabama, Kentucky and Mississippi institutions—Belmont also came out well above the average salary in each category.
Looking nationally at peer Master’s level institutions, Belmont remains incredibly competitive in salary ranges for faculty. In fact, Belmont full professors rank in the 80th percentile in salary in comparison with peer institutions across the country. Associate professors, assistant professors and instructors are doing even better, ranked in the 86th, 93rd and 89th percentiles respectively.
These results reflect Belmont’s ongoing commitment, as reflected in Vision 2015, to provide for its employees: “Belmont people are fully engaged in challenging and demanding work and will share in the financial success of the university as salaries meet and exceed peers. Compensation will increasingly be tied to performance excellence.”
Each spring, the AAUP publishes its report on faculty compensation and the economics of higher education. AAUP members receive a print copy of the report (with complete data listings) as part of their membership. Data from the survey are also available for purchase in several formats, including institutional peer comparison reports, complete datasets and pre-publication report tables. Salary data are collected annually by the American Association of University Professors. Participation in the AAUP survey is optional; 1,157 institutions submitted data for the 2013-14 academic year.
Belmont University employees painted a Metro Nashville Public School (MNPS) with their Bruin pride during a community service project Friday morning. Approximately 150 Belmont staff, faculty and administrators spent their morning giving Hunters Lane High School hallways, gymnasium, stairwells, railings and banisters a cosmetic lift with a fresh coat of paint.
“I am absolutely delighted that you are here. For the first time in the six years I’ve been here I’ve been able to have a school come and help my school. A lot of people want to work in elementary schools or schools in their community, and they don’t live around here,” said Principal Susan Kessler, who has 80 percent of her 1,700 ninth through 12th-grade students living below the poverty line. “When students come in the building on Monday morning, they will notice the changes Belmont has made. All I have to offer you is my gratitude. Your work truly matters.”
The service project, which the University dubbed “It’s Bruin Time in the Community,” was a day designed to foster the sense of community among Belmont employees by serving the greater Nashville community. Much like during Belmont’s Annual SERVE Day for incoming freshmen and transfer students, this service project was part of the University’s ongoing mission to engage in the community and encourage the values of service on both a local and global level. (more…)
Asian Studies and Chinese Language Assistant Professor Dr. Qingjun (Joan) Li and four of her students–Anna Croghan, Samantha Hubner, Joseph Minga and Ryan Pino–recently were awarded an ASIANetwork/Freeman Foundation Student-Faculty Fellows Grant. Of 27 team applications, only eight were selected for grants which will fully fund the team’s research project in China this summer.
“I am so excited about this invaluable research opportunity which allows me to take four of my remarkable students to China and work together with them for over three weeks. We all carry the great passion for China, and our study of the commodification of culture will result in new understandings about how Chinese culture is being made into a profitable industry. This is an intriguing project,” Li said.
The team will be in the People’s Republic of China for approximately four weeks in May and early June 2014. The research project, titled “The Commodification of Culture in China’s New Cultural Industry,” will examine the role of culture in China’s new cultural industry, which is a pillar economic commitment of over $172.95 billion or a full 2.78% of the country’s GDP.