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…)

School of Music Recognizes Trustee Michael W. Smith with Applause Award

Presidents Concert Michael W. Smith-140Belmont University’s School of Music honored acclaimed singer/songwriter/musician Michael W. Smith with the Applause Award at Saturday night’s annual President’s Concert. The Applause Award is the most distinguished award presented by Belmont’s College of Visual and Performing Arts and is given annually to honor those who have made significant contributions to the arts.

College of Visual and Performing Arts Dean Dr. Cynthia Curtis said, “Belmont’s School of Music was delighted to present the 2015 Applause Award to Michael W. Smith, who is both an icon of Contemporary Christian Music and a caring and generous humanitarian. Michael was a perfect choice for this award because he brings a long list of impressive musical achievements, highly admirable examples of community service and, as a Trustee of the University, is a supporter of Belmont!  To top all this… his performance for the concert finale was energetic, joyful and simply fun for the entire audience.”

Smith noted, “What an amazing event. I was absolutely blown away at the talent of the kids there at Belmont. It’s hard to put into words what it’s like to see literally hundreds of kids – all with amazing talent – put on a show like that. And to hear them perform my music – – I have to admit to shedding a tear or two. It was a very emotional experience for me. I am so proud of Belmont University. I’m proud to be a Trustee, and I’m proud to recommend Belmont to so many kids that are looking for a great education.”


Earth Day Finds Belmont University Celebrating Its ‘Conservation Covenant’

University recognizes past and future commitments to sustainability

conservation convenant_FINALIn honor of Earth Day 2015, Belmont University celebrated this week with both a special event focused on educating students about being better stewards of the earth as well as an extensive campaign dedicated to sharing the University’s own steps toward conservation in hopes to inspire others to follow suit.

The celebration began today with a special convocation event that featured Blessed Earth, a nonprofit that seeks to inspire and equip individuals to understand their role in preserving the planet for future generations. Throughout the week, Belmont is sharing videos, social media posts and emails with community members to honor the University’s dedication to sustainability and stewardship. Long dedicated to “green” efforts throughout the campus, Belmont has recently transitioned to an all-encompassing sustainability initiative, known as The Conservation Covenant, to emphasize and focus plans for future progress in these areas.

Historically, Belmont’s sustainability initiatives have included a number of projects that align with an overall vision to be an institution committed to stewardship and the responsible use of resources. The University’s Vision 2020, a road map that outlines the vision and goals for the next five years, lists the efficient and responsible use of resources as one of seven strategic priorities setting the foundation for the future.


Belmont Enactus Places Fourth at National Entrepreneurship Competition

BelmontEnactus2015Competing against teams from colleges and universities across the country, Belmont’s Enactus team made a statement last night, coming in fourth at a national competition. With 533 teams consisting of more than 16,800 students in the United States, Enactus USA held its National Exposition and competition this week in St. Louis, Missouri, where the Belmont team stood toe-to-toe and came our victorious against much larger institutions, including the University of Oklahoma, University of Florida Gainesville and last year’s national champion, Texas State University.

Dr. John Gonas, associate professor of finance and Sam M. Walton Enactus Fellow, said, “I couldn’t be more proud of the Belmont Enactus students. They are consistently recognized and honored for their tireless commitment to serving our community by creating complex business models tied to social change. Working alongside incredibly committed faculty members Cate Loes, Jason Stahl and Nathan Adam, our students are examples to Enactus teams in the U.S. and world of how to conceive, develop and sustain social enterprises that are truly changing lives in our immediate and global community.”

Enactus is an international non-profit organization that brings together student, academic and business leaders who are committed to using the power of entrepreneurial action to improve the quality of life and standard of living for people in need. Guided by academic advisors and business experts, the student leaders of Enactus create and implement community empowerment projects around the globe. After three days of intense presentations, Belmont Enactus made it to the final four of the national competition, ultimately placing fourth behind John Brown University, La Sierra University and national champion Brigham Young University-Hawaii.

Maggie Fincher, an entrepreneurship major from Lawrenceburg, Tennessee who also serves as Belmont Enactus Vice President, summed the group’s mission up well during the team’s presentation Thursday: “Through entrepreneurial action we’re empowering our community while keeping our focus on our passion for serving people.”


Belmont Hosts 15th Annual Family Literacy Day, Invites Neighborhood Children to ‘Read with Me’

literacy day-163On Saturday, April 11, more than 140 Belmont students came together at Rose Park to celebrate the University’s 15th annual Family Literacy Day. Held every year, the event invites families from the Rose Park neighborhood to read with Belmont students to promote literacy throughout the community. This year, more than 160 community members registered for the event, doubling numbers from last year’s celebration.

Belmont’s Director of Service Learning and event organizer Tim Stewart said Family Literacy Day began as part of a grant that has funded and spurred the creation of many other events that encourage literacy throughout the Nashville community. “The fact that we’ve been doing Family Literacy Day for so long is a strong testament to Belmont’s desire to encourage children and families in our community to read. It also provides a great opportunity for our students to give of themselves to brighten the lives of others,” Stewart said.


Belmont University Announces New Partnership with Center for Healthy Churches

CHClogoBelmont University and the Center for Healthy Churches (CHC)—an organization devoted to improving the spiritual, emotional and organizational health of churches and ministers—(CHC)announced today a new partnership that includes the relocation of CHC’s national office to Belmont’s campus in Nashville, Tennessee.

CHC currently works nationwide through a network of representatives to provide seasoned and thoughtful leadership to churches and faith communities from many traditions. Twenty-four individuals work with CHC as congregational and clergy coaches and consultants. Their work across denominations seeks to cultivate healthy processes allowing ministers and congregations to clarify vision, manage transitions and transform conflict.

“I cannot think of a better national partner for our efforts to cultivate healthy clergy and churches than Belmont,” said Bill Wilson, Jr., the director of CHC. “Belmont’s facilities and connections are remarkable. They have a heart for the church in its many manifestations, and they genuinely value congregations and clergy and the vital role they play in America. Their faculty, staff and students provide a unique opportunity for us to integrate academic and research methodology into our work.”


Belmont Celebrates Achievement with Scholarship and Awards Day

scholarship and awards-141

Tina Sharma receives The Heart of Belmont Award

During Wednesday’s Scholarship and Awards Day convocation in the Massey Performing Arts Center, Belmont’s top students and faculty were honored for their commitment to the University’s mission and dedication to scholarship, service and leadership. Chemistry Professor Dr. Kim Daus, the 2013-14 Chaney Distinguished Professor, gave the ceremony’s Honors Address and discussed heroes and how they improve our lives. Citing a recent study that showed the prevalence of heroes closely related to members of Generation Next, Daus charged attendees to make a difference in the lives of others and left the audience with lyrics from a Harry Chapin song, one of Daus’s self-proclaimed heroes. “Now if a man tried to take his time on Earth and prove before he died what one man’s life could be worth, I wonder what would happen to this world.”

The presentation of the annual John Williams Heart of Belmont Award is greatly anticipated each year as one student is recognized for their commitment to Belmont’s values including innovation, persistence, advocacy for change, community development and service. The 2015 recipient, Tina Sharma, is a double major studying applied discrete mathematics and economics and when she isn’t working on assignments, completing duties associated with her leadership roles or internships, Tina said her time at Belmont has been “unconditionally poured into working as a community activist.”


Symposium Tackles Internet Privacy Protection

Internetsymposium01Patrick Klepek, senior reporter with gaming news and opinion site Kotaku, kicked off a timely symposium Tuesday focused on internet privacy and social networks. Speaking on the topic “Protecting Yourself in a World without Privacy,” Klepek noted, “The world we live in now is one in which slowly over time we have ceded more and more of our privacy.”

Klepek reiterated throughout his presentation that users need to be more responsible for protecting themselves and their information, starting with creating more demanding passwords. He cited a recent study that showed 10 of the most common passwords, including “12345,” “password” “baseball” and “qwerty.” “All of your passwords are terrible,” he said. “We all know what we probably should be doing with passwords, but we don’t.”

The rise in GPS-enabled applications also can cause privacy issues as it makes location tracking possible, as pointed out by websites like, which focuses on raising awareness about over sharing of personal information.

Another negative aspect of readily available public information and contact on the internet is the rise in bullying through threatening and often anonymous revelations on social media. “The Internet has allowed escalation of this kind of harassment where you can do a lot of damage without incurring any personal consequences.”


Students STAND Behind Bars for Charity

Students from all areas of campus came together Thursday, April 9, to raise money and awareness for causes close to their hearts. Belmont’s International Justice Mission (IJM) and Alpha Tau Omega (ATO) chapters set up camp underneath the Bell Tower for a day full of awareness and change.

News.JailbreakPassersby may have wondered why students were dressed in funny clothing, running around and “capturing” their friends to throw them into a makeshift jail. The answer? Jailbreak – an annual event where ATO members raise money for their philanthropy, Blood: Water Mission, by “placing a bounty,” or pledging a dollar amount to have friends put in their jail by member deputies. The event also included a cook-out and musical performances from Belmont musicians Katherine Munoz, Haylee Page, Monica Moser, Sawyer, Chip Colon, Michael D’Errico and Kiya Lacey.

ATO raised more than $6,000 through the participation of more than 500 people. A representative from the national fraternity’s headquarters filmed the event to be used for ATO Roadshow, an outlet that showcases worthy chapter events to ATO members on a national level. Jailbreak’s video will be shown to chapters at national conventions and leadership seminars, as well as on the fraternity’s website.


College of Law Announces Strong Employment Rate for Class of 2014

Charter class career placement, 85.7 percent, exceeds current national average

Belmont University College of Law’s charter class continues to blaze an impressive trail for the program, with an overall employment rate of 85.7 percent for the Class of 2014. This rate bests the most recent national average, as compiled by the National Association of Legal Professionals (NALP), which shows an overall employment of 84.5 percent for the most recently available national rate.

Jaz Boon

Jaz Boon

College of Law Dean Judge Alberto Gonzales said, “When Belmont announced it was starting a law school, we made it clear that we believe a vital element of the Belmont Law education involved preparing our students for roles as community leaders and change agents. Seeing such impressive employment numbers, particularly from the College’s charter graduating class, bodes well that our mission is being accomplished.”

Jaz Boon, a member of the charter class, is currently working as a judicial law clerk for the Tennessee Court of Appeals, noted the program offered numerous experiences that paved the way for his position now and future career. “Professor [Ian] Bourgoine’s Legal Writing course prepared me for my clerkship by helping me understand how the pieces of a legal argument fit together. Further, my experience writing briefs and arguing on Moot Court gave me some insight into what is important to an appellate judge. Those two experiences, along with Belmont Law’s externship program where I gained valuable hands-on experience with the Court of Appeals, were tremendous tools to prepare me for my clerkship.”


Daniel Patten

Of the 119 Class of 2014 graduates, 102 are employed, with 78 of the positions listed “bar admission required” (i.e. license to practice law) and 16 of the positions noted as “JD advantage.” From the class, 46.1 percent are employed in law firms, and 24.5 percent in government, which includes judicial clerkships, administrative or executive branch agencies, and prosecutors. Another 25.6 percent of graduates are employed in business, which includes in-house legal counsel and management, and 2.9 percent are employed in public interest/civil legal services positions.

Daniel Patten, a Belmont Law charter class member, is employed as an associate (healthcare) with Waller Lansden Dortch & Davis. “Completing Belmont’s Health Law Certificate was excellent preparation for my career,” he said. “The health courses and practicums not only provided a comprehensive legal and business foundation of the healthcare industry but also helped me develop practical skills that I use in my practice on a daily basis.”

Music Row Produces More Than CDs and EPs: Belmont’s Ocean Way Studio Records Award-Winning Video Game Scores

Student Affairs PortraitsWhile Music Row is well known for its production of albums, hit singles and award-winning collaborations, neighbors can expect to hear more sounds of theatrical scores as Belmont’s Ocean Way Nashville becomes the premiere spot for video game score production. Nashville is no longer home to just country music stars and frequent live shows – the video game scoring industry has taken a liking to Music City and with Ocean Way at the helm, the recordings and their awards continue to stack up.

Since its purchase by Belmont University in 2001, Ocean Way Nashville has become a leader in the music production industry, both locally and globally, and in recent years, the studio has produced a number of scores for popular games that have gone on to accumulate a number of national recognitions. At the 2014 GANG (Game Audio Network Guild) Awards, “The Last of Us,” a best-selling game with score composed by Gustavo Santaoello and recorded at Ocean Way, won Best Audio. In March 2014, the studio scored “Dragon Age Inquisition” by famed composer Trevor Morris, which went on to win the 2015 D.I.C.E. Awards Game of the Year.

Director of Belmont’s Ocean Way Studios Patrick McMakin said media music – music recorded for film, television, video games, etc. – is quickly becoming a large part of the music business and because of that, Ocean Way has opened its doors to a diverse set of projects. Through this diversification, McMakin said the studio has had the opportunity to learn skills and techniques that weren’t preciously part of their day to day. “It’s made us better, because the scores are fairly large in size, and we’re working with top level composers who work with orchestra all over the world. The knowledge they have brought in our doors has allowed us to improve every aspect of how we operate Studio A technically.”


Belmont Nurses Christian Fellowship Joins Passion Partners to Collect Sanitary Towels

Achievers.SweetCeCesThe Belmont Nurses Christian Fellowship (NCF) has joined forces with Passion Partners, a nonprofit missions organization, to launch their annual Pad Project campaign that collects feminine hygiene products for Ugandan and Kenyan girls who would otherwise be unable to attend school. The donations are wrapped as gifts and distributed at monthly Purity Project meetings at high schools in Wakiso and Kampala, Uganda, where girls are taught about health, self-worth and the Bible.

NCF is currently in the donation stage, after having launched the campaign at an event at Sweet CeCes in March. Further monetary donations are still being collected. Beyond fundraising, the organization is hoping to surpass the 7,800 pads collected last year with a goal of 10,000 pads.

Donations can be dropped off in collection boxes located in the Beaman Women’s locker room and lobby, Inman restrooms, McWhorter Pharmacy, Heron and Wright, the Bruin Hills Club House and the women’s restrooms in the Library and first floor of the Wedgewood Academic Center, near the food court. On April 28, all pads will be collected, packaged and prepared for shipment.

Click here to watch a video on the project.

Belmont Launches Eight New Student Organizations

Bruin Link Fair-27The semester may be winding down, but campus life continues to grow as Belmont recently added eight newly-recognized student organizations.

“Student organizations, whether new or already existing, are vital to the campus community as they reflect the culture and environment of the ever-fluctuating life that is on a college campus and with college students,” said Assistant Director of Student Engagement and Leadership (SELD) Sara Stacy. “We don’t look for anything specific as we don’t have a set criteria; however they must have at least eight members beyond the four required positions of leadership, must not be similar to an already existing organization and be congruent with Belmont’s mission, vision and values.”

Students interested in starting a new organization must attend one of the Intent to Organize information sessions at the beginning or end of each semester where the formal application process is detailed. Applications are then reviewed by SELD staff and a sub-committee called the Student Life Council. Recommendations are then made to the Director of SELD for approval.

Affiliated organizations are created by a department or a group of students to assist a department or program in achieving their institutional objectives. The five new affiliated organizations are:

  • Belmont Chapter of the American Music Therapy Association for Students (BAMTAS): To advocate for music therapy, educate students about its principles and provide a professional community for students pursuing board certification.
  • Belmont Student Emergency Response Team: To train members in preparedness and safety for themselves and others on campus in order to use their skills to help educate the public on safety during different situations that may arise on campus, and to ultimately become a first responder for emergency events on campus.
  • National Science Teacher Student Association: To allow members to utilize their intellectual skills to pass along science knowledge to other individuals at Belmont and the greater Nashville community.
  • Omicron Delta Kappa Leadership Honor Society: To recognize individuals who have attained a high standard of leadership in collegiate and community activities, and to encourage them to aspire to higher achievements.
  • UNICEF: To inform the student body of Belmont about the cultures and problems faced by children in countries with limited resources, and to discuss and create solutions to said problems, while encouraging campus involvement through teamwork and meeting participation.


Curb College ‘Best of the Best’ Showcase to Honor Gary Overton

Students plan, produce, star in concert for 1,500+ guests

Gary OvertonOn Saturday, April 11, at 7 p.m. Belmont University’s Mike Curb College of Entertainment and Music Business (CEMB) will present its annual Best of the Best Showcase. The free show, which is open to the public and offers a variety of musical performances from rock to urban/pop to Christian to country, will honor longtime music executive Gary Overton with the Robert E. Mulloy Award of Excellence. This award is given annually to an individual who has achieved a level of excellence in the music business and entertainment industries with notable service to Belmont University and the Nashville community. 

Gary Overton has been a leading force in the Nashville music community for decades, most recently as the chairman and CEO of Sony Music Nashville, home of country superstars Kenny Chesney, Miranda Lambert, Brad Paisley and Carrie Underwood. Prior to his five-year tenure at Sony, Overton served for 15 years as executive vice president and general manager of EMI Music Publishing’s Nashville division, where he was responsible for overseeing day-to-day operations, including the exploitation of copyrights, acquisition of catalogs, signing of writers and artists, and securing record deals. During his tenure, the company earned Publisher of the Year honors from ASCAP, BMI and/or SESAC a total of 12 times. Prior to joining EMI, Overton was personal manager for country artist Alan Jackson and served tenures as head of A&R for BNA Entertainment and vice president of Warner/Chappell Music. Overton currently serves on the Belmont University/Curb College of Entertainment & Music Business Advisory Board, in addition to other volunteer efforts.

“The Best of the Best showcase continues in the tradition of providing a professional performance opportunity for our student artists and hands on experience for our live audio, lighting and production student teams,” said Curb College Dean Doug Howard.  “The impact of these experiences plays a key part of a Curb College education and can be seen in the creative and expert talents of our alumni all over Music City and the entertainment world at large. I’m also incredibly grateful for Gary Overton’s years of service both as an advisory board member and as a generous benefactor for our programs, and I’m delighted that ‘Best of the Best’ will honor him Saturday night.”


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