Belmont PRSSA Hosts Regional Conference ‘NASHvantage’


NASHvantage Student Directors with PR advisor Dr. Bonnie Riechert and keynote speaker Kelly Davis, APR (center)

Belmont’s Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA) chapter hosted their second regional conference, “NASHvantage: Entertainment PR Beyond the Music Industry,” the weekend of March 20-22. The conference brought more than 200 students and young professionals from around the country to network and learn about Nashville’s growing public relations field.

The conference was led and directed entirely by Belmont students. Pictured (left) is Director of Logistics Mary Anna Davis, Regional Conference Director Makenzie Albracht, Director of Hospitality Aryn Van Dyke, Director of Promotions and Creative Arielle Schrader and Director of Finance Nicole Smart. Other student volunteers from the Public Relations Department formed the committees and served as extra hands necessary to execute the conference successfully.

“NASHvantage’s success directly reflects the passion and dedication of the directors and Belmont PRSSA. We spent six months planning this conference and seeing it come to life was definitely the highlight of my college career,” said Davis.


Alumni Ginny Owens and Andrew Greer Return to Belmont for Chapel Presentation

music mystery and faith-105Singer/songwriters and Belmont School of Music alumni Ginny Owens, ’97, and Andrew Greer, ’04, returned to campus on Wednesday for a chapel presentation featuring their newly released book, Transcending Mysteries: Who is God and What Does He Want from Us? Focusing on connecting stories from the Old Testament to personal stories from their lives, the book features chapters named from titles of Owens’s and Greer’s songs.

The duo’s chapel presentation included performances of their songs intermittently sprinkled through book excerpt readings, the way Greer said the book was designed to be read. Greer began with an excerpt from “Rescue Me,” a chapter named from his song of the same title, and described his recovery process and the challenges that came with doubting God’s love for him.

After an honest conversation with his father where he acknowledged past mistakes, Greer said he was able to rekindle knowledge of God’s welcoming and abundant love through his father’s words. “I love you, son. Not in spite of your stuff, but with all of it.” With the affirmation of his earthly father clear, the affirmation and desire to serve his Heavenly father became more and more clear.


Belmont Unveils Official Mobile App

Released for iOS and Android platforms, product represents three apps in one

AppAnyone searching for “Belmont” or “Belmont University” last week in the iTunes or Google Play stores stumbled across a nice surprise as the University released its first official mobile app, a free combination product that offers access to public Belmont information (Belmont app) as well as a secondary secure MyBelmont app for students, faculty and staff to reach their personal information on mobile platforms. A third app, for Belmont Bruins athletics, is also included.

These new additions to campus life are a direct result of Media Studies Professor Dr. Sybril Bennett’s submission last year to the Belmont Challenge, an ongoing project that encourages faculty and staff to recommend ideas–in this case, ones based on technology–that can improve student learning and contribute to the effectiveness of the University as a whole.

Bennett said, “The purpose of the submission was to serve our students. For years students in my Mass Media and Society classes submitted Belmont app prototypes as part of the mobile app class project. They wanted to access information on the go.  With the growth of mobile devices, this wasn’t an option, it was and is an opportunity. This will allow students to use their device of choice to better manage their educational journey on a mobile platform.”


50 Hours of March Madness

Staff from Belmont University’s Office of Communications spent the latter part of last week shadowing the men’s basketball team as well as employees, fans and students who went to Charlotte for a taste of March Madness. Here is what they saw and heard:
NCAA 2015-116

Wednesday, March 18
2:20 p.m. Central

With a few dozen fans holding signs and yelling “Go Belmont,” the Bruins exit the Curb Event Center loading dock after a final practice, toss their navy duffel bags under the bus and stuff too tall legs into seats, downing some Chick-Fil-A as they prepare for the ride to the airport.

Coach Rick Byrd and several players, including senior Reece Chamberlain (right), conduct last minute interviews with local media for a few minutes before the bus departs, skirting carefully through the 15th Avenue roundabout.

3 p.m.
Arriving at the airport, a woman everyone on campus recognizes with a shock of short white hair jumps off the bus to check in for the flight. Debbie Chenoweth, or “Miss Debbie” as everyone on the team calls her, handles all of the logistics for team travel, and she’s clearly the one in charge of the trip.

In addition to managing all of the details and being responsible for team and player stats during the game, Miss Debbie serves as chief problem solver and team encourager. Whether a player has lost his ID or just needs a bubblegum pick-me-up before the game, Miss Debbie has the answer. In fact, she carries with her at all times a bag of candy that includes all of the favorite sugar-infused snacks for each team member and coach.


The chartered plane is running about 20 minutes late so we wait on the tarmac, catching up with red shirt sophomore Taylor Barnette. He’s responsible for “The Shot,” the fall-away three-pointer that helped the Bruins win the OVC Championship and land Belmont its seventh trip to the Big Dance in 10 years. What many may not know is that he’s also working on an academic triple play: Taylor is majoring in communications with a double minor in entrepreneurship and Christian leadership.

Ironically, Barnette is a transfer from No. 2 seed Virginia, the very team Belmont will be taking on. “Those guys [on the team] were some of my best friends when I was there… It’s still sinking in that we’re playing them.”

4:04 p.m.
After a quick security check, the players, coaches and traveling staff have boarded the plane and been greeted by flight attendants enthusiastically wishing the team well. In moments, the plane departs for a quiet ride to Charlotte. (more…)

College of Sciences and Mathematics Holds Brain Awareness Week 2015

biology-105Belmont recently held its 2015 Brain Awareness Week (BAW), an endeavor sponsored by the Biology and Psychological Science Departments as part of the global campaign to increase public awareness of the progress and benefits of brain research. Held every March, BAW unites the efforts of partner organizations worldwide in a celebration of the brain for people of all ages.


Belmont University’s Masters of Science in Nursing Graduates Achieve 100 Percent Pass Rate

For the 11th year, graduates pass certification exam on first attempt

IMG_0529 (2)Since 2004, all graduates of Belmont’s Masters of Science in Nursing (MSN) program for Family Nurse Practitioners (FNP), totaling 150 students, have passed the nursing certification exam on their first attempt. The most recent class of 28 graduates passed the exam this spring.

Dean of the College of Health Sciences Cathy Taylor said, “This is marvelous recognition for our outstanding students and a testimonial to the passionate dedication of an expert graduate nursing faculty team led by Dr. Leslie Higgins. We are so proud of this remarkable accomplishment.”

The School of Nursing began offering its MSN degree 20 years ago and with the creation of the Doctorate of Nursing, the graduate programs have grown to a record enrollment of 87 students in the fall of 2014. Prepared to practice in a variety of settings, FNPs provide primary health care to families and individuals of all ages. Graduates from Belmont’s program have gone on to practice in pediatrics, genetics, family practice and public health, among others.


Belmont Student Wins ‘Price is Right’ Showcase Showdown, Meets Childhood Inspiration

Price is Right 2Austin Williams, a junior theatre performance major, competed in last week’s “Price is Right” Spring Break Edition and took home more than $32,000 in prizes including trips to Las Vegas, Cancun and Spain, an Apple Macbook, iPad and iPhone and a Quadcoptor.

Williams is spending this semester in Los Angeles studying at Belmont West, a semester-long program where students reside in LA, study with local professionals and get access to some of the most exclusive internships in film, television and theatre. With West’s sister program, New York’s Belmont East, the University sends more than 25 students each semester to study in Nashville’s sister entertainment cities.

Williams said she and a few other Belmont West students were initially planning to attend “Whose Line Is It Anyway” as audience members when they learned of free tickets to the Spring Break Edition of “Price is Right.” Williams was the second contestant selected for the show, successfully bid on the Quadcoptor, won her game after identifying the price of an all-inclusive Cancun trip and spun an 85 on the big wheel, sending her to the Showcase Showdown.


Belmont Hosts Third Annual Entrepreneurship Village, Welcomes Student- Alumni-Led Businesses

IMG_39678Belmont seniors Margot Lied and Joelyn Young are passionate about spreading words of encouragement through hand lettered creations and together have built M + J Creative, an organization that creates and sells print products and coordinates and organizes special events.

Lied, a senior public relations major, is the mastermind behind M + J’s creativity, while Young, a senior corporate communications major, handles all things business and communication. The duo met at Belmont and said they recently launched the venture after realizing their shared passion and the market for encouraging words. “We love simple, clean, lovely things,” Lied said. “There’s such a cool outlet through print to have encouraging messages…and we have fun and uplifting things to share.”

M+ J set up shop on campus Wednesday to be a part of The Entrepreneurship Village, a grouping of white tents set up in the amphitheater surrounding Belmont’s infamous Bell Tower to showcase 29 business owned by students and alumni representing all stages of business development. Dedicated to representing the innovation, creativity and success of Belmont’s entrepreneurship students and alumni, business in all phases of the business cycle participated.


Belmont Raises $75K During Bruins4Bruins, Far Exceeding Initial Goal

Bruins4BruinsBelmont recently launched Bruins4Bruins, its first philanthropic social media campaign, created to raise $50,000 for the University’s Annual Fund in one week, March 8 – 14. Designed to engage with donors in a new and unique way, Bruins4Bruins utilized a variety of digital tools to spark conversation among a group of donors that, for many, were being engaged for the first time.

Focusing on daily e-mails, frequent social media updates, videos from a variety of Belmont community members and digital campaign endorsements, Bruins4Bruins’s primary goal was fundraising, but Director of Annual Giving Luisa Wilsman said the campaign was equally focused on philanthropic education for first time donors. “I am delighted that we were able to raise above and beyond the $50,000 goal set for ourselves, but I am even more delighted that we were able to educate so many people on the importance of financially supporting organizations you value and making lasting contributions that will have a real impact on people to come,” Wilsman said.

With Monday’s most recent tabulation, more than $75,000 was raised in just a week’s time, far surpassing the goal of the campaign and the hopes of its leaders. Wilsman said the team knew they’d reach the goal, but were amazed at the reaction of their audience, donors and friends of the University. “The feedback that we received was tremendous,” Wilsman said. “Donors were excited to be engaged in a new way and loved hearing stories from members of the Belmont community on how Annual Fund dollars have directly impacted them and the student experience.”


Belmont Bruins Win March Madness Academic Championship on

Team tops Virginia, Georgia, Dayton, Duke, others based on academic standards—an online trade publication for higher education—released today its own picks for the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament Bracket based solely on academic standards, and Nashville’s Belmont Bruins won the Championship trophy. On the road to the Championship, Belmont “defeated” some fellow academic powerhouses, including the University of Virginia, University of Georgia, University of Dayton, University of Louisville, Duke University and, in the title game, the University of Kansas.

The Inside Higher Ed website annually completes an NCAA bracket based on each team’s academic performance, with teams in the bracket “competing” based on Academic Progress Rate (APR) scores, the N.C.A.A.’s multiyear measure of a team’s classroom performance. If teams tie on APR, Inside Higher Ed then moves to Graduation Success Rate, which measures the proportion of athletes on track to graduate within six years. Belmont’s men’s basketball currently boasts a perfect 1000-point APR as well as a 100 percent graduation rate. Belmont, the only team in Tennessee to be invited to the 2015 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament, also won the Inside Higher Ed Academic Bracket in 2013.

Belmont President Dr. Bob Fisher said, “I’ve said many times before that as much as I enjoy the spirit of competition in all of our athletic programs, nothing makes me happier than to see our student-athletes ‘win’ off the court, performing well in the classroom, serving in the community and landing careers that fulfill their personal dreams. To win the Inside Higher Ed academic bracket for the second time in three years proves our Athletics department is focusing on all the right priorities, and I couldn’t be more proud of our men’s basketball team.”

Men’s basketball Head Coach Rick Byrd added, ““On behalf of our players and coaches, I would like to thank Inside Higher Ed for recognizing the Belmont Basketball program in this way. We take pride in the academic accomplishments of our program – past and present – and full credit goes to our players. It is neat how Inside Higher Ed puts this twist on the NCAA Tournament bracket each year.


Bruins4Bruins Nears Completion, Two Days Left to Give!


Belmont University launched its first philanthropic social media campaign, Bruins4Bruins, on March 8 and with two days left to give, the campaign is closely teetering near its $50,000 goal with more than $40,000 donated thus far.

Bruins4Bruins is designed to engage with alumni, parents and friends of the University through online means, instead of traditional methods of outreach. Asked to invest in the quality of education at Belmont through a financial gift, this unique audience will be connected to the campaign through University social media channels, e-mails and videos from a number of prominent University alumni and friends.

With the goal of raising $50,000 in seven days, the campaign is focused on enhancing the student experience through donations to the University’s Annual Fund which supports academic enrichment programming, technology upgrades, student research and competitions and more. Additionally, donors can allocate funds to specific University departments or endeavors if preferred.

A number of donors have committed to challenging the Belmont community to participate in Bruins4Bruins by providing $2,500 daily gift challenges. Donations will be matched dollar for dollar by a different supporter each day.

Director of Annual Giving Luisa Wilsman said Belmont decided to host its first philanthropic social media campaign to engage this unique audience in a new way. With a focus on Bruins supporting each other, the week-long drive asks members of the Belmont family to become a part of a very important group of donors who will share their resources to ensure an outstanding experience for students.

“We hope to inspire and educate a new generation of philanthropists regarding the importance of higher education support and show how together our contributions can make a significant difference,” Wilsman said.

To become a part of this important group and contribute to the future of Bruins to come, click here or visit

Nursing, Part-Time MBA Included on U.S. News’ 2016 Graduate School Rankings

Belmont University’s Gordan E. Inman College of Health Sciences and Nursing and Jack C. Massey Graduate School of Business were lauded this week when U.S. News and World Report released its 2016 rankings of Best Graduate Schools, a tool to help prospective graduate students better understand the graduate school landscape and identify potential programs. Belmont’s Masters of Science in Nursing (MSN) ranked at No. 115, up from No. 234 in the 2011 rankings, and Massey’s Part-Time MBA ranked at No. 182.

U.S. News’ part-time MBA ranking is based on average peer assessment score, the average GMAT score of students entering in fall 2014, average undergraduate GPA, work experience and the percentage of the school’s enrollment that is part time. The MSN ranking is based on similar data including average peer assessment score, average undergraduate GPA, acceptance rate, faculty resources, student-faculty ratio and research activities, among others.

In addition to its recent U.S. News ranking, Belmont’s MSN program has seen great success through the first time pass rate of graduates. For the 11th consecutive year, graduates of the MSN program for Family Nurse Practitioners have achieved a 100 percent first time pass rate on the nursing certification exam totaling 150 student graduates since 2004.

Arbor Day Foundation Honors Belmont University with 2014 Tree Campus USA® Recognition

Arbor Day-102Belmont University was recently honored with the 2014 Tree Campus USA® recognition by the Arbor Day Foundation for its commitment to effective urban forest management.

Tree Campus USA, a national program created in 2008 by the Arbor Day Foundation and sponsored by Toyota, honors colleges and universities for effective campus forest management and staff and student engagement in conservation goals. Belmont University achieved the title by meeting Tree Campus USA’s five standards including maintaining a tree advisory committee, a campus tree-care plan, dedicated annual expenditures for its campus tree program, an Arbor Day observance and student service-learning projects.

“Students are eager to volunteer in their communities and become better stewards of the environment,” said Matt Harris, chief executive of the Arbor Day Foundation. “Participating in Tree Campus USA sets a fine example for other colleges and universities, while helping to create a healthier planet for us all.”


Students Define ‘Feminist’ to Open Women’s History Month Celebration

womens histories-115Among a packed classroom in the Wedgewood Academic Center, a panel of seven Belmont students offered unique and profound interpretations on “This Is What a Feminist Looks Like,” the opening convocation in the University’s celebration of Women’s History Month.

Associate Professor of English Dr. Amy Hodges-Hamilton, who is co-chairing the 2015 celebration with Sociology Professor Dr. Andi Stepnick, noted that the national theme for this year’s Women’s History Month is “Weaving Women’s Stories.” As part of her introduction for Monday’s panel, she shared how 2011 Humanities Symposium keynote speaker Maya Angelou inspired her own story and helped her reclaim her voice during her daughter Grace’s cancer battle. Hodges-Hamilton explained to Angelou her stress over caring for Grace while also juggling her career and remaining strong for herself and her family. “[Angelou] stopped me and with her God-like voice spoke these words: ‘All you have to pray every morning is this: God give me Grace.’ And that he has.”


Third Annual World Culture Fest Reflects Diverse Heritages

culture fest-124On Feb. 27, Belmont students held the third annual World Culture Fest in the Beaman Student Life Center to celebrate diversity on campus through dance, music, fashion and more. Individual students and student organizations focused on cultural identities had booths representing different world cultures for students to sample food, learn interesting facts, ask questions and participate in cultural activities such as henna tattoo art and calligraphy. The Rumi Club, Chinese Cultural Club and Black Student Association co-sponsored the festival in partnership with the Student Government Association.

Among the performances were Bollywood, Haitian and K-pop dance performances as well as musical performances of Scottish fiddling, hip hop and karaoke in nine languages. The booths represented cultures from South Korea, Laos, Egypt, India, Japan, Africa, China and Haiti.

The purpose of Culture Fest is to bring together students from all backgrounds to celebrate cultural art expressions from around the world. Some students and faculty were representing their own culture, while others were engaging in and representing a culture they were not familiar with prior to the event. Faculty sponsor for the event, Assistant Professor Dr. Amy Crook, said, “The support that students show to each other at the event during performances and at the booths is really amazing. People are asking for the recipes for exotic foods they’re having for the first time, falling in love with new musical genres and sharing experiences from their study abroad trips. It’s so encouraging to see the students put on such a quality event that really brings the community together.”

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