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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…)

School of Nursing Saves Thousands of Dollars Annually Through Sustainability Efforts

health science 2013-245Belmont Director of College Health Science Simulation and Assistant Nursing Professor Dr. Beth Hallmark is committed to the University’s sustainability ideals as she leads the School of Nursing’s (SON) efforts to reuse and recycle simulation equipment.

In a simulation lab, students are given the opportunity to practice nursing skills in a safe environment, complete with set-ups that mimic hospitals in the Nashville area and use the same equipment students will see in their clinical rotations. Although this opportunity is an invaluable educational experience, it can be very costly.

With the popularity of nursing on the rise and Belmont’s School becoming more and more successful, Hallmark said her interest in the School’s sustainability efforts began when she started to notice the increase of nursing students and the sheer volume of supplies needed.

Simply recycling the equipment used by students wouldn’t have been adequate, since a large part of the lab is learning sterile techniques when opening equipment. To reproduce this experience for each student but cut down on cost, Hallmark decided to start the SON’s reuse program. Since simulations utilize state of the art mannequins and no contamination of supplies occurs, the reuse of simulation equipment is sanitary and safe.health science 2013-113

Now, a number of student workers are trained to clean equipment once it has been used in a simulation. Using a detailed guide, workers re-package tools so they look the same for the next student who will open them.

Hallmark takes the SON’s program one step further by personally traveling to area hospitals and healthcare organizations to collect unused and expired supplies that would have been thrown away. Since the simulations work only on mannequins, expired equipment can provide training for nursing students. The equipment that the SON cannot use or does not need is donated to a local nonprofit, ProjectCure.

“The SON has been blessed with unbelievable facilities and thanks to Mr. Inman and grants from local organizations like the Memorial Foundation, we continue to have the best facilities; however, it is important that we are good stewards of what we have been given,” Hallmark said. “We truly believe that we are called to honor the verse in Luke that reminds us, ‘to whom much is given, much is required.’”

With the combination of the SON’s reuse program and the unused supplies collected from area organizations, Hallmark estimates than an average $40,000 is saved yearly. With this savings, Hallmark says the program is able to save budgeting for specialty items that might not have otherwise been purchased.

Mary Clark Leads Bridges to Belmont

Mary ClarkStudents begin college with Summer Academy, community service projects and leadership development

Belmont University has appointed Mary Clark as director of Bridges to Belmont. In her new position, Clark oversees the program designed to enroll students from Metro Nashville Public Schools who previously may have not considered Belmont as an option.

“We are delighted to welcome Mary Clark to the Belmont community and look forward to her leadership as the program continues to evolve, building on our strengths in delivering a high quality and robust education to all students enrolled at Belmont. Her personality, past experience in similar programs and commitment to student success will propel us to the next levels of excellence as we move forward,” said Associate Provost for Academic Affairs Beverly Schneller.

Bridges to Belmont reflects a deliberate stride on the part of Belmont’s administration to enhance the cultural and ethnic diversity within the campus community while also continuing efforts to provide higher education to students in Davidson County. Bridges to Belmont students, many of whom are first-generation college students, each are given a four-year scholarship to cover tuition, room, board, required fees and books from state and federal grants as well as Belmont scholarship funds.  Throughout their higher education experience, they also are given academic support and mentors. There are 52 students in the program from Maplewood, Stratford, Whites Creek and Pearl Cohn high schools. (more…)

Students, Faculty Honored at Annual ‘Scholarship and Awards Day’ Celebration

Navy, Army, National Guard veteran wins Heart of Belmont Award

scholarship awards 2014-105In 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.”

(more…)

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