Belmont Celebrates Black History Month with Series of Events

race and sports andrew maraniss-105With a mission to promote and celebrate cultural awareness on Belmont’s campus, the University’s Black Student Association (BSA) has announced a series of campus-wide events to celebrate Black History Month. This year’s theme is Renewal: Roots, Renaissance, Rights and the week’s festivities are planned as a way to explore and celebrate all aspects of black culture.

On Friday, Feb. 6, BSA kicked off February’s schedule of events with Roots: Celebration of Africa, an event that featured a Sankofa Drum and Dance Ensemble, as well as a fashion show honoring African kings and queens.

President of Belmont’s BSA chapter Briana August said the celebration of Black History Month is very important to the cultural enrichment of the University. “BSA has planned  events that will educate, inspire and challenge the Belmont community,” August said. “While we wholeheartedly believe that black history is very much American history and should be celebrated every day, we are excited to spend the month of February exploring the several different and fascinating facets of black culture and history. If at each event, at least one person learns something new or finds themselves outside of their comfort zone, I believe we have done our job.”

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Belmont Alumni Create The Escape Game, Challenge Nashville to Adventure

escape game-110Belmont alumni Jonathan and Moriah Murrell have launched The Escape Game Nashville, an entertainment concept that challenges participants to use a series of clues and escape from one of four predesigned rooms in less than 60 minutes.

The first of its kind in this region, The Escape Game was inspired after the concept began to take flight in a number of countries. Seeing only the online version locally, Moriah said she and Jonathan, with three other partners, decided to bring the concept to Nashville. Since the pair met in undergrad at Belmont and both studied business and entrepreneurship, they had experience launching and working on start-ups together.

The concept has been a hit with community members of all ages, with many Nashvillians and tourists coming through the door since The Escape Game opened in May 2014. Recently rated as the No. 1 thing to do in Nashville on TripAdvisor, Moriah said she is very proud of the game’s success and is happy to be working on the project with her husband, especially since the creation of a start-up can be so time consuming.

escape game-106She said the greatest thing she has learned since the game’s start would be something that mentor and Belmont entrepreneurship professor Jeff Cornwall has said many times. For a start-up to be successful, “it takes a lot of hard work and a little bit of luck.” Moriah says that couldn’t be more true for The Escape Game Nashville. The couple luckily stumbled upon the idea, but the road since then has been a lot of hard work for the duo and the rest of their team.

When asked for a piece of advice, Moriah said it all comes down to teamwork. “If you ask anyone that’s played, they will say yes – that is true. Work together as a team, and you’ll have a great time.”

For more information or to plan your escape, click here.

W. Brett Wilson Redefines Success at Campus Presentation

brett wilson-102W. Brett Wilson shared his story of success with students, faculty and staff on Wednesday afternoon, but his presentation included an unlikely twist. Wilson focused less on his achievements, including his billionaire status, ownership of the Nashville Predators or the profitable business he started from his genuine spirit of entrepreneurship, and more on his mistakes and realizations of what is important.

Wilson walked the audience through his book, Redefining Success: Still Making Mistakes, which was available for purchase and signing. Wilson explained his journey from engineering school, to a career in the Canadian oil industry, to earning his MBA, to starting an investment banking business which landed him a spot as a judge on the TV show “Dragons’ Den.” But through all this, Wilson described the stories that changed him and his rationale for why health, family, friends and education should be priorities over a career.

“Everything except my work life was failing,” said Wilson, as he told of a time when his daughter told an important phone caller that he was not home, when he was. When he angrily confronted her, she explained, “Well you never are.”

For Wilson, that moment changed everything. At the conclusion of his presentation, Wilson told the audience that his current relationship with his children would rank at a 9 out of 10, because he “can always be better.”

Amongst the trials of failing relationships and even being diagnosed with cancer, Wilson continues to believe in and be inspired by the idea of entrepreneurship. He said, “Each of you has a choice where you’ll go with your career. You’re each an entrepreneur. Entrepreneurship is just a frame of thinking.”

With this, he offered the three classes he deems most important for students to take, regardless of their field of study or career path: marketing, entrepreneurship and philanthropy. He explained that if one understands these things, he or she will be successful no matter what they do, because he or she will know how to compete and form meaningful relationships on all levels.brett wilson-113

At the end of the event, L. Russell Brown came out as a special guest and sang his famous song “Tie a Yellow Ribbon Round the Ole Oak Tree,” dedicated to Wilson.

To learn more about Wilson and his philosophy of success and mistakes, click here.

Belmont Students Stay ‘Up ‘Til Dawn’ to Raise $47K for St. Jude

News.StJudeWhile most were sound asleep in their beds Friday night, more than 110 Belmont students were wide awake, playing games and raising more than $47,000 for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

The event, appropriately named “Up ‘Til Dawn,” started at midnight and lasted until 6 a.m. Saturday morning. St. Jude is Belmont’s Greek Life philanthropy, but the event was planned by a campus-wide Up ‘Til Dawn Executive Board and was open to any student who individually raised $100 and could manage to stay awake all night.

“Up ‘Til Dawn” is the culmination of other campus events that have raised awareness all year.The event featured several activities including amazing race and arcade style games, a pancake breakfast, a silent disco and the chance to meet a St. Jude’s patient, among others. Several students even had their heads shaved to support the cause. Finally, the total amount raised was revealed onstage: $47,803.27.

“As an executive board member, for me, the best part was revealing our total and watching the shock and awe on the faces of the students after they saw what they had accomplished. It was in that moment that I think it hit everyone just what we had achieved,” said sophomore Resident Outreach Chair Rebecca Green.

Four students after having their heads shaved.

Four students after having their heads shaved.

St. Jude Research Hospital, located in Memphis, Tennessee, was opened in 1962, and since then, overall childhood cancer survival rates have increased from 20 percent to more than 80 percent. No child is denied treatment based on race, religion or a family’s ability to pay. To learn more about this cause, click here.

“It was our very first year doing this, so we honestly were just hoping we would raise $25,000 and get at least 100 people to show up. We completely surpassed that goal though,” said Events and Logistics Director Giovanna Cervantes. “We were in the top five fundraising schools for ‘Up ‘Til Dawn.’ Belmont, with just 7,300 students, raised more money than schools with 15,000 students or more. That just proves what an amazing community we have and the heart of this school.”

With the extreme success the event saw, student leaders said they are hopeful the momentum created for St. Jude won’t stop here. “This is a great learning experience for Belmont students and gives them an opportunity to support an amazing cause. We hope for Belmont to continue ‘Up ‘Til Dawn,’ so that this may be an annual event that exceeds $47,000 every year,” said senior Executive Director Maddy Grossl.

st jude girlsApplications for next year’s executive board will be available on February 16.

To see the video of “Up ‘Til Dawn,” click here.

U.S. News Report Ranks Belmont No. 5 Among South’s ‘Most Efficient’ Universities

AerialShow2014FallIn a recent U.S. News analysis that compared universities’ spending with the educational quality they offer, Belmont ranked No. 5 among its peers in the South region and was the highest ranked private University in that category, indicating the high efficiency of Belmont in providing excellent educational quality while keeping expenses low.

Belmont President Dr. Bob Fisher said, “This ranking is a huge deal to us because it reflects the overall Belmont strategy to provide a first-class education to our students while keeping our costs low. All credit for this accomplishment goes to the diligence of our faculty, staff and administration, who work extremely hard at their jobs and do their best to find effective—and economical—solutions to our campus’ needs.”

According to the website, U.S. News compared public and private colleges’ academic quality, as measured by their position in the 2015 Best Colleges rankings, to the funds spent to achieve that quality, and ranked the most efficient universities under that matrix. The publication noted, “Schools that are featured on these lists are doing a good job in managing their financial resources relative to other schools that may have far greater financial resources because of more state funding, higher tuition or larger endowments.”

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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…)

Department of Education Earns Strong Accreditation Review

Belmont University’s Department of Education recently received a continuance of its accreditation under the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE) standards, an achievement the Department has owned for more than 20 years. NCATE’s performance-based accreditation system for teacher preparation ensures that teacher candidates are prepared to make a difference in P-12 student learning.

class-1-300x200Based off a six standard scale, educator preparation programs are evaluated in areas including professional disposition, assessment systems, field experiences, diversity, faculty qualification and resources, among others. Belmont’s Department excelled at all listed criteria, earning an unprecedented mark of no citations or areas of improvement.

With a recent nod towards what Chair and Professor of Education Mark Hogan calls “feet in the streets” education, the Department has launched education programming that is committed to advocacy for children, their families and the profession. All education students spend time each semester in the field, including a placement as early as their first semester.

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Belmont Partners with Tennessean on Mayoral Debates

NashForward_PresentedByThe Tennessean and Belmont University have come together to present Nashforward, the premier Nashville Mayoral Debate Series in 2015.

As the leading media company and a top-ranked University, The Tennessean and Belmont University want to ensure that voters are well-informed on the issues facing Nashville and the positions of each candidate as they head to the polls in August.

Each debate will be free and open to the public, but tickets must be reserved in advance. The debates will also be streamed live via The Tennessean and Belmont University’s digital platforms.

Belmont President Dr. Bob Fisher said, “We have long said that being in Nashville is one of Belmont University’s finest assets, and this institution is committed to returning that benefit through engagement with, and service to, our city. Hosting these debates also connects well with our mission to provide students with significant real-world educational experiences, demonstrating first-hand how they can be change agents in our community and the broader world.”

The Tennessean’s President and Publisher Laura Hollingsworth said, “Nashvillians can count on The Tennessean to cover the details and the in-depth stories about the election, the candidates and their stances on the issues leading into the election.”

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MLK Events Include Visit from Pulitzer Prize-Winning Historian

taylor branch-106Belmont University held a number of notable events during the past two weeks to celebrate and honor the memory of Martin Luther King, Jr., including a visit from keynote speaker Taylor Branch Friday morning. A Pulitzer Prize winning historian, Branch wove comments on the recent film Selma into his remarks. Teaching on historical movements and the catalysts that spark them, Branch said movements are started by moments that move an individual to act, speak up and believe in something. “That’s what a movement is,” he said. “It’s something like the language of emotion, connecting you to things that are an emotional challenge to you.”

Branch said that people do not learn from abstract analysis, which is vague and reprogrammable, depending on the content. People learn from personal experiences that spark something inside of them. “Personal experiences move us in ways that scramble our ideas of what’s real and possible,” he said.

These moving moments resurfaced as Branch discussed several scenes from Selma. For instance, Branch describes Dr. King’s call to end the march and go back to the church as the “peak of his leadership.” Even though many did not agree with the decision, Branch said, “It shows you the complexity of ideas involved in keeping a movement going to engage in larger possibilities. He kept alive the possibility of a voting rights act.”

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Belmont University Welcomes Local Residents for Seventh Annual Community Day

community day 2015-201As a show of gratitude to its neighbors in Metro Council Districts 17, 18 and 19, Belmont University hosted the community to watch the men’s basketball team play Ohio Valley Conference (OVC) rival UT Martin last night for the University’s seventh annual Community Day.

With more than 1,000 neighbors in attendance including students from a number of surrounding schools, the annual event featured dinner, face painting, a balloon artist and a drumline battle between local high schools, Pearl-Cohn and Maplewood. In celebration of University mascot Bruiser’s birthday, mascots from around the city were in attendance for Bruiser’s birthday party.

Keeping in line with the night’s festivities, the Bruins (12-7, 4-2 OVC) were happy to bring home a win against the UT Martin Skyhawks (11-7, 3-2 OVC). With a final score of 72 to 67, Community Day attendees kept energy high in Belmont’s Curb Event Center and cheered the Bruins to victory. The win marked Coach Rick Byrd’s 701st career victory, and Byrd was honored before the game for reaching No. 700 last Saturday.

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Author Andrew Maraniss Joins Belmont and Area Universities for MLK Day of Service

mlk service day-101More than 200 university students carried on the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. on Saturday when they spent five hours volunteering at the fifth annual MLK Day of Service. Students from Belmont, Lipscomb, Trevecca Nazarene, Vanderbilt and Tennessee State Universities gathered at TSU’s Kean Hall to celebrate and honor King through a day of community service. The MLK Day of Service is a nationally recognized event intended to empower individuals, strengthen communities, bridge barriers, create solutions to social problems and move individuals closer to Dr. King’s vision of a beloved community.

Author Andrew Maraniss’s recent book Strong Inside highlights the 1966 enrollment of African-American basketball player Perry Wallace at Vanderbilt University. Wallace was the first African-American to play basketball in the Southeastern Conference. Maraniss delivered the opening remarks at the Day of Service, encouraging students to understand the importance of working together towards a common goal, no matter what school they attend. Maraniss emphasized the importance of the day’s service projects, as well as the engagement and collaboration that would occur among some of Nashville’s brightest students.

Belmont’s Director of Service-Learning Tim Stewart said the Day of Service is a great way to bring students together from all across the city and remind them of Dr. King’s belief in the importance of service and community. “I can’t think of a better way to honor the life and legacy of Dr. King than by coming together as colleges and universities to serve our great community,” he said.

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Alumnus Geoff Koch Honored with Curtain Call Award

Curtain Call Award-113-L

The School of Music honored Commercial Music alumnus Geoff Koch (’94) with the Curtain Call Award on Tuesday evening. The Award is presented annually to a School of Music alumnus in honor of achievement in the field of commercial and popular music. During the ceremony, Koch performed a few selections from his significant songwriting catalog.

After graduating from Belmont, Koch was chosen to be the pianist at the Grand Ole Opry and later went on to perform with acts such as Lorrie Morgan, Restless Heart and The Glen Miller Orchestra. His music has been featured on a range of media, from Saturday Night Live to the National Geographic Channel.

Koch, the owner of Music Row’s Koch Music Productions, serves as the current president of the Nashville Composers Association and is on the board of Film-Com, the world’s largest completion and distribution market for film and TV.

Belmont Gives Flowers Back to Community Through Perenity

presidents-dinner-109-199x300When ceremonies, dinners or weddings at Belmont University are complete, used flowers are donated to Perenity, a nonprofit organization that reworks them to create bedside arrangements for hospice patients as well as the Ronald McDonald House, Meals on Wheels and nursing homes, among others.

Belmont was introduced to the organization in 2005 and since then the University, under the leadership of Event Coordinator Michelle Campanis, has continued to donate floral arrangements and potted plants to Perenity after their initial use.

Campanis said she is passionate about the ability to work with Perenity and find a second purpose for the floral arrangements she loves making. “When we are setting up flowers for an event, I get comments from the people in the elevator that see us in passing to the special guests attending the event at how happy the flowers make them. It is wonderful to know that by donating to Perenity, those flowers will be shared with people who are encountering some of the most challenging events of their life, ” she said. “I think one of the main lessons I have learned from the wonderful people at Perenity is how we can each take something we personally find fulfilling and use it to make the world a kinder place.”

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Belmont Is Open Today, Wednesday, Jan. 14

Belmont University is open today–Wednesday, January 14–and classes will proceed as scheduled. Because weather and road conditions can vary greatly within our region, students, faculty and staff are urged to use individual discretion when making the decision to travel to campus in snow or icy weather.

Belmont Officially Opens New Williamson County Site in Cool Springs

Location will offer adult degree programs, rental opportunities

professional educational facility -132Belmont University officially cut the ribbon today on a new professional education and corporate meeting facility in the heart of the Cool Springs business community. The new Williamson County location, located at 310 Billingsly Court, will provide easily accessible classrooms in Cool Springs for courses in Belmont’s adult degree, professional and continuing education programs, as well as event and meeting rental space for area businesses and organizations.

Belmont University first opened a satellite location in Cool Springs in 2002 on Seaboard Lane, allowing thousands of Williamson County residents and employees close access and opportune times to take classes to “finish what they started” through the University’s Adult Degree Program. With newly renovated classroom space, options for corporate meeting rentals and developing plans for expanding graduate and continuing education opportunities at this site, this new 6,300 square foot location intends to further cultivate Belmont’s influence in Williamson County.

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