Dr. John Gonas Honored Through Establishment of Endowed Scholarship at Baccalaureate Service

baccalaureate spring 2015-140Every spring, Belmont hosts its annual Baccalaureate Service to celebrate graduates and their families. While this year’s event started and ended just as it always does, the experience during Friday’s ceremony for Associate Professor of Finance Dr. John Gonas was very different.

Brennon Mobley, a senior student set to graduate at the next day’s commencement ceremony and a student-leader on Gonas’s Enactus team, was the 4th speaker at the event and told the story of how he came to Belmont, largely due to a meeting with Gonas during his junior year of high school. Following the Nashville flood of 2010, the pair met while clearing carpet out of a neighbor’s home and began talking about Belmont.

Gonas described an idea that eventually led to Spring Back Recycling, a nonprofit organization that recycles the inners of mattresses through the employment of previously incarcerated men. Mobley was interested. “[Dr. Gonas] told me that if I came to Belmont, I could be a part of a group of students that would help him launch it. I knew nothing about mattresses…What value could I possibly add? Those facts didn’t seem to matter to [Gonas]. He recognized my value within,” Mobley said.

Five years later, Spring Back Recycling has locations in five states and has recycled over 3 million pounds of used mattresses. The organization empowers disenfranchised men and provides the opportunity to “spring back” into society recognizing their value, the same value Mobley said Gonas saw in him.


Massey College of Business Partners with Foundations Recovery Network for Continuing Education

Fall Campus Life 2013-105The Belmont University Jack C. Massey College of Business is partnering with Foundations Recovery Network, the leader in behavioral healthcare events, to create a track of learning that will become a part of the organization’s ongoing conference offerings across the country.

Lee Pepper, Foundations Recovery Network’s chief marketing officer, said, “Foundations Recovery Network is always looking to increase the number of opportunities for professional development within the behavioral health industry, and we have always offered continuing education for clinical professionals at our national conferences. We’re now proud to be partnering with Belmont University’s Jack C. Massey College of Business to provide an accredited business certificate tailored specifically for our industry.”

Pat Raines, dean of the Jack C. Massey College of Business, added, “We are proud to create innovative learning opportunities for our partners in Middle Tennessee. Our partnership with Foundations Recovery Network reflects our mission to be engaged with the communities we serve through value-added relationships. It’s a win-win relationship for us, helping others in their network by bringing business skills development workshops to their national conferences, having impact on the national recovery community.”

As the behavioral health industry grows, Belmont will offer attendees of Foundations Recovery Network conferences business certificate training in key areas such as ethics, entrepreneurship, operations and strategy. The Foundations Recovery Network series of learning will offer 36 hours of educational training in various certificate tracks, and upon completion of 18 hours, students will receive the Foundations Recovery Network/Jack C. Massey College of Business certificate and continuing education units (CEUs).

The first track on ethics will be led by Harold Fogelberg and will start this summer at the “Innovations in Behavioral Healthcare” conference in Nashville June 22-23. The next series will be offered during the “Moments of Change” gathering in West Palm Beach, Florida Sept. 28 – Oct. 1, 2015.

Belmont University Named a College of Distinction

College of Tennessee DistinctionBelmont University was again named among the nation’s Colleges of Distinction for providing innovative, teacher-centered undergraduate education and preparing graduates for real-world success. Based on the opinions of guidance counselors, educators and admissions professionals, the website and college guide profiles more than 220 of America’s best bets in higher education honors colleges that excel in four areas of undergraduate education: engaged students, great teaching, vibrant learning communities and successful outcomes.

Aside from the academic experience offered at the institutions selected, Colleges of Distinction are also chosen based on their first year program and experimental components of the curriculum. The organization believes institutions should be judged on what they are doing now and the development of their strategic plan, instead of their prestige historically.

Belmont will be profiled on the Colleges of Distinction website and in the official Colleges of Distinction eGuidebook,which will be available via online retailers and distributed free-of-charge to more than 40,000 high school and community college counselors.

Belmont Honors Chief of Police Anderson with Doctorate of Humanities

AHP_8642Belmont recognized Nashville Chief of Police and Belmont alumnus Steve Anderson during Saturday’s 2:30 p.m. spring commencement ceremony with an honorary Doctorate of Humanities degree. Honorary degrees have been presented by American colleges and universities since 1962 in recognition of meritorious humanitarian service, as well as scholarly and creative attainments. Belmont has bestowed this award selectively as the highest honor conferred by the University.

Chief Anderson graduated from Belmont in 1979 with a degree in criminal justice, went on to graduate from Nashville School of Law with a Doctor of Jurisprudence Degree, served in the United States Air Force and ultimately went on to serve the Nashville community as a public servant. A 40-year veteran of the Metro Nashville Police Department, Chief Anderson served in a number of roles prior to his 2010 appointment as Chief of Police. He was an administrative assistant to three former chiefs, led the Administrative Service Bureau, Investigative Service Bureau and Field Operations Bureau, served as a law instructor at the MNPD Training Academy and provided on-site legal advice to the SWAT Team.

Belmont President Dr. Bob Fisher said the University is proud of the impact Chief Anderson has made on the greater Nashville community and is honored to provide him with a second Belmont degree.

AHP_8677“The strong relationships Chief Anderson has built with neighborhood and communities, his commitment to protecting those who are threatened by domestic violence and his voice of reconciliation to people who feel disenfranchised are clear demonstrations of his remarkable concern for others,” Dr. Fisher said. “The high standard of professional excellence and emphasis on education in the Metro Police culture, along with the dramatic reduction of crime in Nashville, speak to the strong leadership Chief Anderson has provided within the department and the Nashville community.”

“I am sincerely humbled that the great school I attended as Belmont College in the 1970s, and from where I graduated 36 years ago while a police officer, has chosen to honor me at the 2015 spring commencement,” Chief Anderson said.  “Just as Nashville and the police department have significantly grown and evolved over the past four decades, so, too, has Belmont.  The education I received here helped prepare me for the constant challenges of a law enforcement career.  I am proud to be a Belmont graduate, and I am proud of what this university means to Nashville.”

Chief Anderson’s contributions to Nashville are plentiful as he has overseen unprecedented growth in Metro’s police department, forged strong and lasting partnerships with key members of the community and significantly reduced the city’s crime statistics since beginning his position as Chief in 2010. Additionally, Chief Anderson has been honored with a number of awards including the Tennessee Association of Chiefs of Police (TCAP) President’s Award, TCAP’s Middle Tennessee Chief of the Year and the Statewide Voice for Victims Award during National Crime Victim’s Week.

Biology Students Study Animal Behavior with Nashville Zoo

Zoo-120For the students in Belmont Biology Professor Dr. John Niedzwiecki’s Animal Behavior course, spending hours each week at the Nashville Zoo was not a way to avoid studying, but a large part of their coursework. As a semester-long lab project designed to give students the opportunity to observe and research animal behavior in a hands-on way, students were paired in groups of two, assigned an animal to work with and together, came up with a testable hypothesis to study.

The teams worked with a variety of animals including kangaroos, elephants, red pandas, bongo bongos and night active amphibians, among others. Once students received their assignments, they met with the animal’s keepers to begin the scientific process. Topics of study were varied and included social groupings, dominance, alertness and environmental effects on animal behavior.

Senior biology major Lindsay Millward worked with kangaroos throughout the semester and, with partner Mallory McDonald, studied specific grouping behaviors within the zoo’s interactive exhibit.  Because the kangaroo exhibit is structured similarly to the zoo’s petting zoo, the team was able to interact with the animals one-on-one.

Millward said the opportunity to take learning outside the classroom was an invaluable one, as she and McDonald actively saw lecture topics illustrated in animal behavior and strengthened their understanding of course materials. This learning lab allowed Millward to further investigate a career in zoology, one that has become more interesting as a post-graduate option. “The project fit seamlessly with our in-class topics and further developed my understanding of animal behavior,” Millward said. “I also further strengthened my skills in the research process and scientific method.” (more…)

Belmont to Commemorate 125th Anniversary Beginning Fall 2015

Year-long quasquicentennial celebration built on theme ‘Belief in Something Greater’

125WebsiteWith a focus on the central theme “Belief in Something Greater,” Belmont University will celebrate its 125th anniversary during the next academic year. Founded in 1890 by Ida Hood and Susan Heron, two bold and unconventional school teachers, the all-female Belmont College has transitioned and grown through the years into a co-ed, Division I, nationally acclaimed institution boasting more than 7,200 students. The anniversary affords Belmont the opportunity to commemorate its distinctive and dramatic history through a variety of special events, speakers and weeks designed to focus on particular elements of the Belmont legacy.

In an email to the campus this week to announce the upcoming anniversary celebration, Belmont President Dr. Bob Fisher wrote, “When I came to this University in 2000, I instinctively knew there was something special about this place, and over the past 15 years I’ve discovered more and more about Belmont’s unique and exceptional culture. I’ve been inspired by the people of Belmont—both past and present—and their steady belief in the promise tomorrow holds, belief in the transformative power of education, belief in a God who gives our lives hope and purpose… Quite simply, the Belmont culture reflects a ‘Belief in Something Greater.’”


Belmont Honored as Hall of Fame Member in Nashville’s Workplace Challenge

Challenge recognizes companies for being green, healthy and involved in the community 

Nashville’s Mayor Karl Dean recently honored Belmont University through induction into the Mayor’s Workplace Challenge Hall of Fame, an initiative to recognize companies who have implemented continued improvements since its 2012 start. The third round of the Workplace Challenge concluded in March with 235 companies participating representing more than 105,000 employees in Nashville.

Focusing on three areas that contribute to a high quality of workplace life, the Hall of Fame recognized 20 companies who have excelled in being green, healthy and involved throughout the Nashville community. The first three-tiered challenge of its kind in the country, other cities have begun replicating the initiative to recognize top businesses.

“I applaud the continued success of these workplaces in being environmentally friendly, promoting healthy choices among its employees and encouraging a culture of service through volunteerism,” Mayor Dean said. “The responses to the Workplace Challenge continue to be impressive and further exemplify why Nashville is such a great city to live and work.”

In addition to the Hall of Fame recognition, Belmont also received Platinum recognition for the Community Involvement and Health areas and a Gold recognition for the Green area for 2014. In 2013, Belmont was recognized as a Gold recipient for the Community Involvement and Green areas.

For more information on the Mayor’s Workplace Challenge, click here.


Tennessee Health Care Hall of Fame Announces Eight Inaugural Inductees

Inaugural class represents Tennessee’s greatest health and health care pioneers

Healthcare Hall of Fame-117During today’s McWhorter Society Luncheon held on Belmont University’s campus, the Tennessee Health Care Hall of Fame announced the eight health care professionals selected as the Hall of Fame’s inaugural inductees. With a mission to honor men and women who have made significant and lasting contributions to the health and health care industry, the Hall of Fame was created by Belmont University and the McWhorter Society and is supported by the Nashville Health Care Council, a Hall of Fame Founding Partner.

Chair of the McWhorter Society and Chairman of Medcare Investment Funds Dr. Harry Jacobson said, “This inaugural group of individuals are a great representation of leaders in the development of health care.”

The nomination process began in February and was open to practitioners, executives, entrepreneurs, mentors, teachers, scientists, researchers, innovators or any person with a connection to the health or health care field. Nominees must have:

  • Been born, lived or have worked in Tennessee
  • Made a significant impact and lasting contribution to health care at the local, state, national or international level
  • Exhibit the highest ethical and professional character
  • Serve as an outstanding role model in their community


Spring Commencement Ceremonies Set for Saturday

commencement 2014-112Belmont University will hold its spring 2015 commencement ceremonies for graduate and undergraduate students on Saturday, May 9 in the Curb Event Center. Belmont anticipates the graduation of approximately 1,147 students, with 855 bachelors, 101 master’s and 191 doctoral degrees conferred.

At 9:30 a.m. candidates from the Massey College of Business, Curb College of Entertainment and Music Business, College of Science and Mathematics, College of Law, University College and Interdisciplinary Studies will have their degrees conferred. At 2:30 p.m. candidates from the College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences, Inman College of Health Sciences and Nursing, College of Theology and Christian Ministry, College of Pharmacy and College of Visual and Performing Arts will have their degrees conferred.

Tickets, which have been distributed to the graduating students, are required for guests wishing to attend either event. Dr. Bob Fisher, president of the University, will preside over the events and present the commencement address at both ceremonies. Watch the graduation ceremony live by visiting www.belmont.edu during the ceremony and clicking the watch live link.

Baccalaureate will take place at 2:30 p.m. Friday, May 8 in the Curb Event Center. Covering the topic “A Service of Ordination to Daily Work,” the worship service for graduates and their families will feature students from various disciplines sharing stories of how God is calling them to use lessons learned at Belmont to serve others.

Charter Omicron Delta Kappa Honor Society Circle Launches at Belmont

ODK-245The charter circle of Belmont University’s new Omicron Delta Kappa honor society became a reality Monday as 55 students and two faculty members were officially inducted. Omicron Delta Kappa is a 100-year old national leadership honor society that has initiated more than 300,000 members since its founding.

Provost Dr. Thomas Burns initiated the chartering and was a member of OΔK as an undergrad at Dickinson College. “OΔK values the importance of integrity, academic achievement, leadership and service. There is such extraordinary consonance between those values and Belmont’s mission of “providing an academically challenging education that empowers men and women of diverse backgrounds to engage and transform the world with disciplined intelligence, compassion, courage and faith.” Essentially, bringing OΔK to campus allows us to celebrate our shared beliefs, recognize students who exemplify these qualities, and help provide them additional opportunities to expand their commitments to these values. Partnering our students with the OΔK organization helps connect Belmont students to a much larger international community allowing them new opportunities to shape their world.”

The Society recognizes not only academic achievement but also campus leadership across the five phases of campus life:

  • Scholarship
  • Athletics
  • Campus or Community Service, Social or Religious Activities, and Campus Government
  • Journalism, Speech and the Mass Media
  • Creative and Performing Arts

OΔK is committed to developing campus leaders who will become tomorrow’s community leaders. Founded at Washington and Lee University (Virginia) in 1914, OΔK currently has 299 active circles across the country, with Belmont being the most recent.


Belmont Students Participate in Project Music, Nation’s First Tech Music Accelerator

Through the introduction of student-run company EVAmore, Nashville’s music industry is encouraged to do ‘even more.’

startup showcase - project music-108Belmont juniors Channing Moreland and Makenzie Stokel have brought new talent, innovation and energy to Nashville’s music industry. Through their participation in the Entrepreneur Center and County Music Association’s Project Music, the nation’s first tech accelerator dedicated to music, the duo launched their company, EVAmore, at last week’s Start-up Showcase.

Moreland said she and Stokel were eager to learn more about Project Music for their initial concept, What’s Hubbin,’ an event discovery platform. After planning and producing a number of events together surrounding What’s Hubbin’s promotions, the team discovered the challenges many industry professionals find when tasked with booking talent for an event. Coupled with the pain point emerging artists feel when trying to break into the market, Moreland said she and Stokel knew they needed to “pull back the curtain and show that anyone can book a band for an event. Project Music provided the opportunity and ammunition to do so.” EVAmore was born to fill that gap, providing a smart technology platform for event planners to connect with and book artists while bringing quality up-and-coming artists to booking agents.


Sharma Accepts Heart of Belmont Award

Achievers.Sharma3Belmont senior Tina Sharma was recently honored with the 2015 John Williams Heart of Belmont Award in recognition of her commitment to Belmont’s values including innovation, persistence, advocacy for change, community development and service. Sharma is a double major studying applied discrete mathematics and economics, and when she is not working on assignments, completing duties associated with her many leadership roles or working at her internship, Sharma said her time at Belmont has been “unconditionally poured into working as a community activist.”

Sharma’s resume does not fall short of impressive, with accomplishments including serving on the Youth Advisory Board for the Alliance for a Healthier Generation and Bill Clinton Foundation, where her work of traveling across America as a student activist and teaching inner city students about making healthy choices was recognized by former President Bill Clinton. Sharma was also selected as a youth organizer for the Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition, where she completed research and wrote talking points for legislative bills to raise awareness about immigrant and other marginalized communities. She’s also held numerous internships including positions in Congressman Jim Cooper’s office as well as Mayor Karl Dean’s Office of Innovation.

Through these opportunities, Sharma’s hard work has not gone unnoticed. “Tina exercised her voice, her energy and her passions before arriving at Belmont, but over the last several years she has developed a confidence and clarity of vision that will bring not only personal success, but a path marked by enriching activity and genuine benefit to those who are fortunate to have her touch their lives,” said Professor Glenn Acree.


Alumnus Rayvon Owen Tops American Idol His ‘Own Way’

20120206-_JMK0177Belmont School of Music alumnus Rayvon Owen has made a name for himself on this season of “American Idol” as one of the top 4 performers in the competition. Since the beginning of the show, Owen has been wowing Idol judges and fans with his technical skills and stage presence.

Before his performance on April 22, Owen met with Idol mentor and Big Machine Records founder Scott Borchetta. Owen discussed his strategy since being in the bottom two in recent weeks of the contest and the ways he has worked to improve his performances. “It wasn’t until being in the bottom for the third time that I finally realized that you can give a good performance, but what else is there to you? It’s okay to express what you’ve gone through, your story,” Owen said. “People want to connect to that. People want to see your heart.”

With that in mind, Owen began last week with Sam Smith’s “I’m Not the Only One” and closed with Fleetwood Mac’s “Go Your Own Way,” ending the performance with his signature falsetto note impressing judge Jennifer Lopez. “[That high note] was a great way to finish the show – to fight. You are such a fighter, which I love about you,” Lopez said. “You are not going down. You want to be here, and you show us that with your vocal performances.”


Belmont Business Teams Win Big at International Competitions

Students from the Massey College of Business struck again this past week, landing major awards at two different international competitions.

CFATeamThe Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) Institute Research Challenge is an annual global competition that provides university students with hands-on mentoring and intensive training in financial analysis. Students work in teams to research and analyze a publicly traded company — sometimes even meeting face-to-face with company management. Each team writes a research report on their assigned company with a buy, sell, or hold recommendation and may be asked to present and defend their analysis to a panel of industry professionals.

Belmont’s CFA team team consisted of senior finance major Cody Fincher, junior finance major Nate Newcomb, accelerated MBA student Gray Finney, and Professional MBA students William Gilmore and Lauren Vandermark. After winning the Nashville/East Tennessee regional competition last month, the team moved on last week to the Americas competition in Atlanta, which included 350+ teams from the U.S., Canada, Central and South America. Belmont’s team finished third overall among all Americas teams—their presentation on Ryman Hospitality can be seen here (fifth video down from the top of the page).

Dr. Joe Smolira, associate professor of finance and the team’s advisor, said, “The students on the team did a fantastic job, progressing farther in the competition than any Tennessee team has ever gone. Finishing in the Top 5 out of more than 350 universities in the Western Hemisphere is phenomenal. Beating Rutgers head-to-head in the semifinals shows the analytic and presentation skills these students have as most of the Rutgers team will probably be working on Wall Street next year.”

Meanwhile, 21 of Belmont’s 23 student representatives placed in the top 10 in their respective events at the DECA International Career Development Conference held this week in Orlando. DECA prepares emerging leaders and entrepreneurs in marketing, finance, hospitality and management in high schools and colleges around the globe.

DECA 2015 Orlando (382)Collegiate DECA’s Competitive Events Program allows students to put their experience, skills and knowledge to the test while representing their college or university. Students compete for top international honors in one of 24 different competitions. Collegiate DECA competitive events recognize student achievement, provide opportunities for traveling to conferences and networking with peers. The Collegiate DECA Competitive Events Program is recognized for helping to prepare students for their professional careers–in all events students are judged by business and industry professionals.

“This was a particularly good year for Belmont’s DECA team,” said Professor of Entrepreneurship Dr. Jeff Cornwall, who advises the team along with Assistant Professor of Marketing Dr. Lora Harding and Associate Professor of Entrepreneurship Dr. Mark Schenkel. “The student leaders stepped up and became much more involved. The students who went to nationals clearly were there to work hard and learn.  All three faculty advisors were excited to support such a great group of students.”


Belmont Remembers Dr. Mike Awalt, Trusted Colleague, Mentor and Friend

Mike Awalt“As one of those who knew him best so eloquently put it, his like will not soon pass our way again,” said Dr. John Paine, Belmont professor of English and French, when remembering Professor Emeritus, trusted colleague and beloved friend Dr. Mike Awalt. Dr. Awalt died recently following a battle against cancer–he had spent more than 40 years teaching at the University.

Awalt began his career at Belmont in 1970 as a professor in the Theology and Philosophy Departments. Years later, he would go on to chair the Department of Philosophy before founding Belmont’s Teaching Center, a resource that continues to provide support, assistance and programming for faculty members to hone their craft. Awalt helped establish the Center in 1994 after successfully receiving $100,000 in grants for its development.

Dr. Awalt believed in the power of education and teaching and was deeply committed to contributing to Belmont’s status as a distinguished teaching institution, Paine said. Among the many things he learned from Mike, one of the most memorable was the ability to listen in a meaningful way that encourages collaboration, learning and engagement.

“I don’t think I learned truly to listen in class until I witnessed Mike do this. He allowed what I now think of as creative silences, posing a question that could be approached from several angles and waited patiently and silently for responses. Sometimes we, as teachers, become all too enamored with the sound of our own voices. Giving over a few moments of silence seemed inevitably to lead to articulate, creative exchanges that would move our class discussion forward in unexpected directions,” Paine said. (more…)

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