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Belmont Delegates ‘Live Beyond’ Campus in Haiti


(left to right) Robin Cobb, Cathy Taylor and Phil Johnston in  Thomazeau, Haiti.

During his recent visit to Thomazeau, Haiti, College of Pharmacy Dean Phil Johnston visited villages with LiveBeyond workers and a Belmont delegation to aid and dispense medications to a woman in postpartum, a father with high blood pressure, a small boy with worms and a man with a hip injury. The most powerful experience of them all was when a man who received medical attention sang a Christian hymn in Creole as his Voodoo-practicing neighbors gathered around and listened.

“It was like watching a Bible story about caring for the least of these,” Johnston said.

He, along with College of Health Sciences & Nursing Dean Cathy Taylor and Nursing Assistant Professor Robin Cobb, visited LiveBeyond’s base in Haiti last week to identify areas of student mission participation and to flush out unique partnerships between the University and the nonprofit organization that would allow Belmont students to provide medical and educational resources as well as business development to the ailing Caribbean country. Founded by retired trauma surgeon David Vanderpool, LiveBeyond moved its headquarters in May into Belmont’s Facilities Management Services building at the corner of 15th and Delmar avenues. The organization’s 64-acre Haitian base encompasses medical care, nutrition, maternal health, orphan care, education development, community development and infrastructure, agriculture and demonstration farms, clean water projects and community outreach visits to those with special needs and disabilities in a region 25 miles northeast of Port Au Prince, Haiti.

“We certainly were able to get a great flavor for the compound and the vision for what is there now and the vision for what is planned,” said Taylor, who co-hosted a convocation-credit forum to share more about the team’s experiences at noon Feb. 19 in McWhorter Hall room 114. (more…)

Lott Advocates for Story Over Genre

The author of Oprah Book Club selection, Jewel, Bret Lott visited Belmont on Wednesday for a Christian Faith Development convocation sponsored by the School of Religion, the English department and the Office of Spiritual Development.

Bret LottAfter noting “I only understand what I mean if I write it out,” Lott read to the audience his thoughts on the roles of story, genres and faith in a person’s life. “Why do people buy the same novel again and again and again” he asked, noting his belief that in those tales readers find a glimpse of the light and meaning they seek. Alluding to C.S. Lewis, he continued, “Those books have delivered a story that has brought them to the brink of their own far-off country.”

But Lott argued that genre is not the same as story; rather, genre is but a shadow of the real story everyone seeks, a story that is found in the person of Christ. “I ask you not ‘what is your story’ but who is your story?”


Faculty Present at 2013 Lilly Conference

Faculty members from the College of Arts and Sciences, the School of Religion and associated with the Teaching Center and the Office of General Education recently contributed four presentations at the 33rd Annual International Lilly Conference on College Teaching.  Each of the four presentations is associated with research that flows from ongoing Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL) projects and collaborations.

Computer Science Professor Joyce Crowell, Psychological Science Professor Pete Giordano and Religion Professor Steve Simpler presented “Taming the Professor: How Students Manage Professors.”  They are members of the Belmont Faculty Improvement Group (FIG) that has worked on a variety of SoTL projects for more than two decades and has presented at several other Lilly conferences. Their 2013 presentation focused on how students try to manipulate such things as course assignments, grading, or due dates. Participants discussed ways to create hospitable classrooms that diminish adversarial relationships while upholding academic standards.

In an interactive panel presentation entitled “Getting Students to Care in the Common Core Classroom: Service Learning as an Engagement Strategy,”  English Department faculty members Jason Lovvorn, Linda Holt and Charmion Gustke examined how service learning can be an effective student engagement strategy, particularly for core-curriculum classes. All three faculty members have multi-year scholarly research experiences with service learning pedagogy. As a conference panel, they each offered reflections on how service learning promotes student engagement in the classroom. The presentation provided conclusions and evidence regarding how service-learning outcomes square well with the goals of most core curricula.

Alison Moore and Rachel Rigsby, both chemistry faculty members and general education leaders, presented “How the BELL Core Does Multi-Disciplinary Learning Communities as the First Part of a Sophomore Year Experience.” Their presentation included recent observations from collaborative research that combined administrative and teaching experiences for both faculty members. In addition to laying out the basic framework and signature courses of the BELL Core at Belmont, they identified how learning communities have been incorporated as part of Belmont’s larger Sophomore Year Experience. This session explored both the logistical details of including learning communities in the core curriculum and the pedagogical pieces that make them successful academic experiences.

“Some Effective Activities and Strategies for Ending a Course,” presented by Mathematics and Teaching Center Professor Mike Pinter and Giordano, was designed so that participants would be able to implement ideas immediately as they conclude their fall semester courses. As output from their collaboration on SoTL topics that developed during service for each as Belmont’s Teaching Center director, they have presented regularly at the Lilly Conference over the last decade. To outline the significance of a good course ending, their 2013 presentation included pedagogical, cognitive, emotional and practical considerations for ending a course in ways that promote student learning. After hearing about approaches and activities used in some Belmont mathematics and psychology courses, participants had time to generate their specific course-ending ideas.

At the Lilly Conference, faculty scholars of teaching and learning from across the United States and several international educational institutions share innovative pedagogies and have vibrant discussions about questions and challenges associated with teaching and learning. The theme for the 2013 conference, held Nov. 21-24 at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, was “Evidence-Based Teaching and Learning.”

Artists, Authors Discuss ‘Making Music to the Glory of God’

it was good making music 003Music plays an important role in worshiping God, according to the authors of It Was Good: Making Music to the Glory of God, who visited Belmont on Friday and spoke during chapel.

“Why sing to the Lord as opposed to throwing bowling pins or spinning dishes on a stick for Him? At every place and every time Christians gather, they make a proclamation of Scripture, prayer and song. Music is a universal feature of human worship and a universal characteristic of human beings,” said School of Religion Associate Professor Steve Guthrie.

The eight-member panel included Guthrie, a music industry executive, pastors and noted musicians who each wrote chapters of the book. Among them were recording artists Sandra McCracken, a Belmont alumna, and Sarah Masen, classical pianist Bethany Brooks, EMI Vice President of Artists and Repertoire Brad O’Donnell and singer-songwriter Joy Ike.


Belmont University Celebrates ‘Topping Out’ of Religion, Arts & Sciences Academic Building

wedgewood academic topping out-116-XL188,000-square-foot structure plus five-level underground garage will be largest campus building to date

Belmont University celebrated the official topping out today for the 188,000-square-foot Wedgewood Academic Center siting above a 430-space parking garage on the corner of Wedgewood and 15th Avenues. The building will house most departments from the College of Arts and Sciences as well as the School of Religion, providing much-needed classroom and lab space for the growing University. The center will house a 280-seat chapel, a coffee and sandwich shop, 30 classrooms that vary in seating capacity, state-of the-art laboratories, study rooms and conference room space. Anticipated to cost $76.5 million, the structure connects on three floors to both the Inman Center and McWhorter Hall.

Belmont President Dr. Bob Fisher said, “This structure is the product of significant collaboration among the students, staff, faculty and leadership team. It is clear that we really are ‘better together!’”

The topping out marked the completion of the concrete structure and five-level underground parking garage. Since Belmont’s general education and core curriculum requires courses in writing, speech, math and religion, among others, every undergraduate will take classes in the Wedgewood Academic Center. The building is designed for interdisciplinary collaboration and planned collisions between students and faculty.

Dr. Thomas Burns, who serves as Belmont’s Provost overseeing all academic programs, added “From inception, our faculty and students have been involved in helping to design a facility that serves current needs, provides extraordinary potential for our future and creates an environment where collaboration and community will help define the future of higher education. Today’s topping out ceremony brings us one step closer to realizing our shared vision.”

As part of Belmont’s ongoing commitment to environmental sustainability, the University is seeking Platinum-level LEED Certification for the Wedgewood Academic Center. The LEED® (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Green Building Rating System™ is a feature-oriented rating system that awards buildings points for satisfying specified green building criteria. The new facility is incorporating a number of green features including a green roof adjacent to biology lab space, garage recycling room and trash compactor, motion-sensor lighting in all offices, classrooms and labs and a variable flow refrigerant HVAC system.

Designed by ESa with construction by R.C. Mathews, the academic building will be complete and ready for occupancy by fall 2014.


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