College celebrates graduation of 120 students from charter class
Belmont University’s College of Law celebrated the graduation of its charter class today as 120 students received their Juris Doctor degrees along with timely inspiration from commencement speaker and Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito. Belmont announced the opening of the College of Law on Oct. 7, 2009, one year after hosting the 2008 Town Hall Presidential Debate, and the charter cohort began classes in fall 2011. From enrolling with a median class LSAT of 154, the 2014 graduating Law class set the standard for Belmont lawyers to follow through classroom performance, co-curricular involvement and community service.
Belmont President Bob Fisher said, “We opened a College of Law because we believe it fits perfectly within Belmont’s mission to provide a transformative education that empowers civic engagement and creates change agents in our community and the broader world. This first class has undoubtedly exceeded expectations, and I’m both proud and honored to welcome Justice Alito to campus to give them a final charge into service.”
Encouraging his fellow graduates to “build a legacy of greatness,” Alexander H. Mills provided the valedictorian address for the College of Law Class of 2014, quoting from Ralph Waldo Emerson, “Do not go where the path may lead; go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.”
Justice Alito used his commencement address to declare that the foundational backbone of this country could provide an appropriate source for the graduates’ future guiding principles. “The essential features of the Constitution and the legal system can lead us to ideals that are applicable to life… it separates matters that are essential from matters that are simply important. The same strategy is a good one to implement in our personal lives. It’s good to go through the mental process to identify what is essential and permanent in our lives, those things that matter most.”
Justice Alito also noted the brevity and accessibility of the Constitution, as well as the way it reflects the American culture of optimism. “The Constitution entrusts the future to the good sense and decency of the American people.”
Mike Curb, Curb Family Foundation in kind gift equivalent of $10 million
Preserving Music City history while shaping the music of the future, Belmont University and the Curb Family Foundation announced today the completed renovation of Columbia Studio A at 34 Music Square East as a classroom and hands-on learning lab for students in Belmont’s Curb College of Entertainment and Music Business. Through his Curb Family Foundation, Curb Records’ founder and CEO Mike Curb is giving the University a 40-year lease on the 34 Music Square East property (including office spaces, Columbia Studio A and the Quonset Hut) as an in kind contribution, an estimated donation value topping $10 million.
From its opening in the mid-1950s as part of Bradley Studios to the building’s purchase by Columbia Records in 1962 to its transition to office space in 1982, Columbia Studio A and the Quonset Hut provided the sonic landscape for many of that generation’s biggest hits and greatest artists, including Bob Dylan, who recorded his legendary 1969 Nashville Skyline album in the most recently renovated space. “A-Team” session musician Charlie McCoy, who played on Nashville Skyline, noted that thanks to Dylan recording in town at Columbia Studio A, “Nashville was certified as a recording center in music to artists who might never have come here otherwise.”
Other artists who’ve graced the building include Dusty Springfield, Johnny Cash, Patsy Cline, Brenda Lee, Buddy Holly, Loretta Lynn, George Jones, Tammy Wynette, Charlie Rich, The Byrds, Patti Page, Elvis Costello, Simon & Garfunkel, and many more. Today’s event was opened by rising I.R.S. Nashville band Striking Matches, a duo who first met when paired together in a Belmont guitar class.
“If these walls could talk,” said Brenda Lee, who spoke at today’s announcement, “they could recount a virtual ‘who’s who’ of great artists and hit songs that first found life here… Thanks to the vision of today’s industry leadership—to men such as Dr. Bob Fisher, president of Belmont University, and Mike Curb, whose namesake Curb College of Entertainment and Music Business is unparalleled as a music industry learning resource—thanks to them, these walls can and will ‘talk’ to a new generation of young creativity that will come here to experience and learn where it all began. And for that, we can all be grateful.”
Dr. Fisher added, “When it comes to honoring Nashville’s music roots, we all need to thank Mike Curb for both his generous contributions and visionary commitment to keep that history alive in this town for future generations to recognize and enjoy. But Mike’s vision extends beyond our history to our future, as he has and continues to be a tremendous resource for tomorrow’s legendary artists through his support of Belmont’s Curb College. We’re truly grateful for his contributions to all of our programs.”
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.
Christine Brennan grew up during a time when girls weren’t encouraged or allowed to play sports. Yet, her father taught her how to throw a baseball and gave her a mitt for her eighth birthday. Soon, the boys began picking her first to be on their teams, and she grew up to become a national sports columnist.
“I decided to be the role model I never had,” she said. Brennan has covered 16 Olympic Games, written a best-selling book and serves as a television and radio sports commentator.
During the luncheon on Tuesday in the Maddox Grand Atrium, she shared advice with 57 female high school students who completed the Music City Girls Lead! leadership academy as part of the activities leading up to the NCAA Women’s Final Four Tournament in Nashville, Tenn. this weekend. (more…)