Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito Speaks at College of Law Inaugural Commencement

College celebrates graduation of 120 students from charter class

Justice Alito congratulates a new College of Law graduate.

Justice Alito congratulates a new College of Law graduate.

Belmont University’s College of Law celebrated the graduation of its charter class today as 120 students received their Juris Doctor degrees along with timely inspiration from commencement speaker and Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito. Belmont announced the opening of the College of Law on Oct. 7, 2009, one year after hosting the 2008 Town Hall Presidential Debate, and the charter cohort began classes in fall 2011. From enrolling with a median class LSAT of 154, the 2014 graduating Law class set the standard for Belmont lawyers to follow through classroom performance, co-curricular involvement and community service.

Belmont President Bob Fisher said, “We opened a College of Law because we believe it fits perfectly within Belmont’s mission to provide a transformative education that empowers civic engagement and creates change agents in our community and the broader world. This first class has undoubtedly exceeded expectations, and I’m both proud and honored to welcome Justice Alito to campus to give them a final charge into service.”

Encouraging his fellow graduates to “build a legacy of greatness,” Alexander H. Mills provided the valedictorian address for the College of Law Class of 2014, quoting from Ralph Waldo Emerson, “Do not go where the path may lead; go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.”

Justice Alito used his commencement address to declare that the foundational backbone of this country could provide an appropriate source for the graduates’ future guiding principles. “The essential features of the Constitution and the legal system can lead us to ideals that are applicable to life… it separates matters that are essential from matters that are simply important. The same strategy is a good one to implement in our personal lives. It’s good to go through the mental process to identify what is essential and permanent in our lives, those things that matter most.”

Justice Alito also noted the brevity and accessibility of the Constitution, as well as the way it reflects the American culture of optimism. “The Constitution entrusts the future to the good sense and decency of the American people.”

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Occupational, Physical Therapy Help Make Disabled Children Mobile

go baby go-111-LThe Inman Health Sciences Building became a workshop and playground on Thursday as part of an international project to promote pediatric mobility. University of Delaware physical therapy professor Cole Galloway and his Pediatric Mobility Lab and Design Studio bought to Belmont Go Baby Go, a program that teaches adults how to modify existing toy cars in a few hours to make them  functional for children with disabilities.

Eight families and their therapists from Tennessee, Kentucky and Georgia worked alongside Belmont occupational therapy and physical therapy students and alumni to learn how to modify toys and the logistics of the Go Baby Go program. Together, they altered Fisher Price Lightning McQueen red cars with Velcro, PVC pipes, pool noodles and kickboards to create wheelchair-like toys. The cars also function as physical therapy devices to teach strength and balance while allowing the disabled children to socialize with other children their age. Through constraint-induced therapy, the children are motivated to use their weaker muscles to gain independence and operate the toys, which by nature are fun. Buttons were moved so that the toy car moves only when a girl with cerebral palsy holds her head up or a boy with a spinal cord injury stands.

For 1-year-old Paisley Queen, she must engage her weak right hand to move her toy car. She suffered an intrauterine stroke and does not use the right side of her body.

“Hopefully, the car will make her more mobile and force her to use her right arm and eventually her right leg and catch her up with her peers who are crawling and starting to walk. That will be a benefit to us,” said her mom Laura Queen, of Mount Juliet, Tennessee. (more…)

Historic Columbia Studio A Reopens as Educational Space for Belmont Students

Linda Curb, Mike Curb, Harold Bradley and Charlie McCoy celebrate the Columbia Studio A grand re-opening.

Linda Curb, Mike Curb, Harold Bradley and Charlie McCoy celebrate the Columbia Studio A grand re-opening.

Mike Curb, Curb Family Foundation in kind gift equivalent of $10 million

Preserving Music City history while shaping the music of the future, Belmont University and the Curb Family Foundation announced today the completed renovation of Columbia Studio A at 34 Music Square East as a classroom and hands-on learning lab for students in Belmont’s Curb College of Entertainment and Music Business. Through his Curb Family Foundation, Curb Records’ founder and CEO Mike Curb is giving the University a 40-year lease on the 34 Music Square East property (including office spaces, Columbia Studio A and the Quonset Hut) as an in kind contribution, an estimated donation value topping $10 million.

A-Team session musician Charlie McCoy greets Belmont President Dr. Bob Fisher.

A-Team session musician Charlie McCoy greets Belmont President Dr. Bob Fisher.

From its opening in the mid-1950s as part of Bradley Studios to the building’s purchase by Columbia Records in 1962 to its transition to office space in 1982, Columbia Studio A and the Quonset Hut provided the sonic landscape for many of that generation’s biggest hits and greatest artists, including Bob Dylan, who recorded his legendary 1969 Nashville Skyline album in the most recently renovated space. “A-Team” session musician Charlie McCoy, who played on Nashville Skyline, noted that thanks to Dylan recording in town at Columbia Studio A, “Nashville was certified as a recording center in music to artists who might never have come here otherwise.”

Other artists who’ve graced the building include Dusty Springfield, Johnny Cash, Patsy Cline, Brenda Lee, Buddy Holly, Loretta Lynn, George Jones, Tammy Wynette, Charlie Rich, The Byrds, Patti Page, Elvis Costello, Simon & Garfunkel, and many more. Today’s event was opened by rising I.R.S. Nashville band Striking Matches, a duo who first met when paired together in a Belmont guitar class.

Striking Matches' Sarah Zimmerman and Justin Davis meet legendary artist Brenda Lee.

Striking Matches’ Sarah Zimmerman and Justin Davis meet legendary artist Brenda Lee.

“If these walls could talk,” said Brenda Lee, who spoke at today’s announcement, “they could recount a virtual ‘who’s who’ of great artists and hit songs that first found life here… Thanks to the vision of today’s industry leadership—to men such as Dr. Bob Fisher, president of Belmont University, and Mike Curb, whose namesake Curb College of Entertainment and Music Business is unparalleled as a music industry learning resource—thanks to them, these walls can and will ‘talk’ to a new generation of young creativity that will come here to experience and learn where it all began. And for that, we can all be grateful.”

Dr. Fisher added, “When it comes to honoring Nashville’s music roots, we all need to thank Mike Curb for both his generous contributions and visionary commitment to keep that history alive in this town for future generations to recognize and enjoy. But Mike’s vision extends beyond our history to our future, as he has and continues to be a tremendous resource for tomorrow’s legendary artists through his support of Belmont’s Curb College. We’re truly grateful for his contributions to all of our programs.”

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Belmont University Holds Spring Commencement Ceremonies May 3

winter commencement 2013-130-LBelmont University will hold its spring 2013 commencement ceremonies for graduate and undergraduate students on Saturday, May 3 in the Curb Event Center. Belmont celebrates the graduation of a total of 1,079 students. During the graduation ceremonies, 770 undergraduate, 85 master’s and 226 doctoral degrees will be conferred.

At 9:30 a.m. candidates from the College of Business Administration, Mike Curb College of Entertainment and Music Business and College of Visual and Performing Arts will have their degrees conferred. At 2:30 p.m. candidates from the College of Arts and Sciences, Gordon E. Inman College of Health Sciences and Nursing, College of Pharmacy, University College and Interdisciplinary Programs and School of Religion will have their degrees conferred.

Tickets, which have been distributed to the graduating students, are required for guests wishing to attend either event. Dr. Robert C. 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 2 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.

Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito will speak at Belmont College of Law’s first graduation at 10 a.m. May 10 in the Curb Event Center. The college anticipates approximately 120 graduates from the three-year program. Since enrolling its charter class in 2011, Belmont’s College of Law is the first law school in Nashville to be accredited by the ABA since 1925.

Updated Monday, May 5: Video of both the morning and afternoon May 3 commencement ceremonies can now be seen here.

Important Construction Update: North Garage Closed Beginning May 4

Significant 15th/Acklen congestion expected all summer

Students, faculty and staff who will be on campus this summer should be aware of the impact of ongoing construction as final touches are put on both the Wedgewood Academic Center and the new residence hall:

  • North Garage Closed May 4-July 6—The North Garage (beneath Inman/McWhorter) and both alleys leading to the garage will be closed beginning Sunday night May 4 to allow for work on utility lines and the concrete entrance. Vehicles will not be able to enter or exit the North Garage. Please move your vehicle to another area before the closure.
  • Significant Congestion on 15th and Acklen Avenues—Work on both Acklen roundabouts (at 15th and in front of Baskin Garage) will increase in May, June and July, and numerous vendors and delivery vehicles will be in the area as the Wedgewood Academic Center comes to completion. In addition, 15th Avenue (between Acklen and Wedgewood only) will be limited to one-lane traffic (south from Wedgewood) during June and July. Traffic leaving the north side of campus will be directed down Acklen to 12th when exiting. All of this will cause significant congestion in that area.
  • Park in Curb Garage—Though the Baskin Garage will remain open, due to the significant road work and anticipated congestion, all employees, students and guests on campus this summer are strongly encouraged to park in the Curb Garage. Otherwise, if parking on the North end of campus, please anticipate experiencing frequent and sometimes lengthy delays.
  • Noise Impact, Lawn Closure—Final work to connect the new Wedgewood Academic Center to both Inman and McWhorter will begin on May 5. Jackhammering will occur for approximately a week on the second floor of both buildings near the connection spots. In addition, geothermal bores and loop circuits will be installed on The Lawn this summer, and this process will also be fairly noisy and require the Lawn to be closed. The Lawn area is expected to reopen during the fall semester.

Additional work will also be ongoing in the Thrailkill Garage and the new residence hall. Event Services and Residence Life will communicate directly with summer groups impacted by that work. We recognize these projects can cause inconveniences with accessing campus, but we all excitedly await the openings this fall of our newest academic and residential buildings. Thank you again for your patience and understanding.

MSN Students Achieve 100 Percent First-Time Pass Rate

10 Years of Perfection for Nursing Graduates

December 2013 MSN graduating class

December 2013 MSN graduating class

For the tenth consecutive year, graduates of the Belmont University master’s program (MSN) for Family Nurse Practitioners (FNP) have achieved a 100 percent first time pass rate on the nursing certification examination. The most recent class of 28 graduates all passed the exam on the first attempt this spring. Nationally, only 80 percent of new FNP graduates pass on the first attempt.

“This is a truly remarkable accomplishment,” said Dr. Martha Buckner, associate dean of nursing.  “We are so proud of the sustained level of excellence by our students and faculty and for the leadership of program director and professor of nursing, Dr. Leslie Higgins.”

The School of Nursing began offering the Master of Science in Nursing 20 years ago, and the program has grown throughout the years to a record enrollment of 83 students this past fall. FNP graduates enjoy significant professional flexibility and marketability. Prepared to practice in a variety of settings, FNPs provide primary health care to families and individuals of all ages.

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Three Faiths Work Together as Innkeepers for Homeless

On Wednesday evenings in the Sport Science building, Belmont University students and Nashville area volunteers created a modern day story of the Good Samaritan. In the Biblical parable, a man was beaten and robbed and his needs overlooked until a Samaritan bandaged him and took him to an inn.

“In this case we put him in a Kia or a Chevy and took him to a gymnasium,” said Belmont Vice President of Spiritual Development Todd Lake. “We found people in other religious communities who were willing to set the alarm clock early or miss time with family and friends to be here and help people who needed help.”

Room in the Inn is an organization that coordinates shelters for homeless people and offers them emergency services, transitional programs and long-term solutions to help people rebuild their lives. Belmont began hosting guests with Room in the Inn in 2011, becoming one of the only universities in the country to shelter homeless guests in on-campus facilities.

Two nights a week–Wednesdays and Fridays–from November to March Belmont students cook dinner for the homeless and fellowship with them before they turn in for the night on cots. Although they had the eagerness and willingness to serve, students often did not have transportation to get the homeless to campus this year, so students turned to members of other faiths in Nashville for help.  The Islamic Center of Nashville and Congregation Sherith Israel sent volunteer drivers and chefs to work alongside students at a Christian university to aid the homeless.

room in the inn-216-L

Belmont staff and students ate lunch with volunteers from the Islamic Center of Nashville and Congregation Sherith Israel on April 10 to celebrate their partnership to serve the homeless.

During a recent informal celebration of the partnership’s success, Belmont Director of Outreach Micah Weedman said, “One thing all of our religious traditions share is a common commitment to hospitality, particularly to those on the margins of our society and those considered outsiders. One of the fundamental elements of Christian life is to welcome strangers so that they might be our friends. At a University where we strive to address issues like global poverty and homelessness, it’s important that we learn also to become friends and share meals with those we wish to serve, and with those we’re learning to serve with.”

“Thank you on behalf of Belmont students. People are always telling me how much this experience changed them,” said sophomore Jeanette Morelan. “Through Room in the Inn, we came to learn someone else’s perspective through dialogue. It’s been incredible to see how much students from the Belmont community wanted to give, and it pouring back into our loves. Thank you for facilitating that experience.” (more…)

Students Ride Across America ‘With A Reason’

riding with a reason 4While many college students spend the summer working, performing internships or continuing coursework, three Belmont students will cycle across the country to raise funds for orphans in Honduras.

“The idea of a 4,000-mile cross country bike ride was enticing but left us wanting more,” said JD Hartwig, of St. Louis, Mo. “Being on a bike four to six hours a day for seven weeks is a crazy ridiculous opportunity to bless other people.”

Hartwig, rising senior Brennon Mobley and rising junior James Richfield discovered they shared a common compassion for orphans and connected with 147 Million Orphans, a Middle Tennessee-based nonprofit organization that raises awareness for orphans and provides them with food, water and medication. They created Riding with a Reason to use the summer excursion to raise $50,000, enough to finance a school building in Mount Olivos, Honduras and fill it with basic supplies, desks, chairs, books and uniforms as well as secure teachers’ salaries. Together the students are underwriting the trip so that all of the money raised through their bike ride across the country supports the project.

On Monday, they left for Hondorus to visit the children they will impact, and on May 15, they will begin their seven-week journey from Oceanside, Oregon to Washington, D. C. (more…)

‘Integrity in Sports’ Panel Discusses Hot Topics in Collegiate Athletics

Integrity & Sports-125-XLThe Edward C. Kennedy Center for Business Ethics and Belmont University Athletics  welcomed NCAA Division I administrators to campus for a candid dialogue on student athlete compensation and the commercialization of college sports on Tuesday in the Maddox Grand Atrium.

Moderated by Belmont Athletics Director Michael Strickland, participants Kentucky Athletic Director Mitch Barnhart, Ohio Valley Conference Commissioner Beth DeBauche and former Big 12 commissioner Dan Beebe said they agreed that the NCAA business model needed a “radical change” to resolve its ethical issues and allow college and university athletics departments to be financially viable. However, Beebe argued that paying some student athletes would mean levying more student fees on their peers to provide funding.

Although some Division I colleges have multimillion dollar television deals and rising coaches’ salaries, many smaller universities do not operate profitable athletic departments on their own, DeBauche noted. In the OVC, much of the conferences’ profits return to its member institutions to pay their bills, and many of the 32 conferences are similar to the OVC, she said, adding that all conferences need to continue to meet Title IX requirements. (more…)

Belmont Continues ‘Read with Me’ Tradition with Family Literacy Day

FamilyLiteracyDay-034-LSome 145 Belmont students read to Nashville children during the 14th Annual Family Literacy Day on April 12 at Rose Park. The event was designed to allow the Belmont community to partner with Nashvillians to encourage reading and literacy among elementary-age children and their families.

“It is a great privilege for Belmont to celebrate the great work that goes on all year long by joining with Metro Nashville Public Schools, the Nashville Public Library, Metro Parks, Book’em, PENCIL Foundation and Homework Hotline to provide Family Literacy Day to the community,” said Belmont Director of Service-Learning Tim Stewart. “We are grateful for the opportunities the community provides our students and view Family Literacy Day as a small but hopefully significant way to say ‘thank you.’”

During the free celebration on reading, children enjoyed interactive story times, crafts, face painting, games and refreshments. In reading circles, hosted by Belmont student organizations such as the foreign language majors, the children listened to students read aloud and earned stickers to trade in for prizes and books donated by Book’em.

In the weeks prior to the event, first through fourth-grade studenFamilyLiteracyDay-017-Lts were invited to submit 12 to 16-line poems about their favorite literature. From 118 entries, the Belmont English Club selected five finalists, and the top five poets worked with local professional songwriters Seth Alley, Sherrié Austin, Maddie Larkin, Bill McDermott and Will Rambeaux to set their poems to music. More than 5,000 votes were cast online in the poetry contest, and the winner was “The Girl Who Thinks She Can” by Arieanna Rushing, a fourth-grade student at Sylvan Park Elementary. Click here to listen to the winning song and the other finalists.

Greek Week Promotes Unity and Service

Belmont’s annual Greek Week concluded Monday night with the Greek Awards Ceremony. With a mission to “engage all of Greek Life at Belmont University,” Greek Week seeks to challenge individuals to re-think what it means to be a part of fraternity and sorority life at Belmont and promote unity among the Greek community.

jenga-222-LFraternity and sorority members across campus focused on three objectives during the week-long event: generating pride and excitement about being Greek, educating the community about the impact of Greek life and joining together to raise money for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

“I am very proud to be the Fraternity and Sorority Advisor at Belmont. Greek Week is a great example of why Greek Life is such an impactful facet of campus life. Greek Week involved raising $10,000 for St. Jude, sending students all over Nashville to total almost 1,000 hours of community service and providing fun, community-building activities for this wonderful group of students that have grown to encompass almost a quarter of the undergraduate student population,” Coordinator of Student Engagement and Leadership Development Kevin Reynolds said.

The week included a variety of competitions and activities, including a life-size Jenga tournament, trivia, Greek Olympics, a worship night and the always popular Greek Sing. Alpha Sigma Tau took the crown in Greek Sing, while Alpha Gamma Delta was the overall winner of the week. In addition, fraternity and sorority members participated in the Greek Day of Service, lending a helping hand and serving at various locations in the Nashville community.

Students, Faculty Honored at Annual ‘Scholarship and Awards Day’ Celebration

Navy, Army, National Guard veteran wins Heart of Belmont Award

scholarship awards 2014-105In a ceremony marked by numerous standing ovations, students and faculty were honored Wednesday during the annual Scholarship and Awards Day convocation in the the Massey Performing Arts Center. All of the awards given reflected Belmont’s mission and commitment to scholarship, service and leadership, with two new faculty awards, the Christian Scholarship Award and Leadership in Christian Service Award, being introduced for the first time this year. Dr. Ronnie Littlejohn, the 2013-14 Chaney Distinguished Professor, provided the morning’s Honors Address on “Knowing Whether,” encouraging attendees to pursue moral wisdom.

In one of the most moving presentations, graduating senior Matthew Thompson was awarded the John Williams Heart of Belmont Award, which is given to a student committed to Belmont’s values including innovation, persistence, advocacy for change, community development and service. Before coming to Belmont, Thompson served in the Navy on the USS George Washington for five years.  In 2005, he enlisted in the Army where he served an additional four years and afterwards completed one year of service in the Tennessee National Guard. After 10 years of service and three deployments, he was honorably discharged and began pursuing a degree in social work at Belmont.

An intern at Operation Stand Down, Thompson has been integral in the development of veterans services on campus and developed an intercollegiate student veteran coalition that spans six universities across Middle Tennessee. Thompson’s mission is to continue on to a career path that assists veterans who are transitioning from military service into civilian life. In his own words, his “biggest motivation has never been to be recognized but to instead encourage and inspire others to step forward and contribute.”

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Teaching Center Celebrates 20th Anniversary

Kim Daus reflects on her experience as Teaching Center director.

Kim Daus reflects on her experience as Teaching Center director.

Faculty gathered for lunch Wednesday to recognize the 20th anniversary of the Teaching Center and its impact on Belmont faculty.

“These are my heroes who helped make Belmont into what it is today. I will always be grateful for the leadership you have showed,” said Provost Thomas Burns. “You have helped us serve our students better. What the Teaching Center is about is making sure that we are excellent teachers and learning how we can continue to grow and develop. It is also a reality center and work-life center to develop the entire educator.”

During the luncheon, faculty were taken on a broad sweep over the center’s 20-year evolution through the words of its former directors.

Seeds for the center were planted in the early ‘90s when an academic committee of faculty, students and administrators discussed campus needs, said Teaching Center Founding Director Mike Awalt, who also taught philosophy. He and a group of faculty examined teaching centers across the country and applied for grants, eventually receiving $100,000 for the establishment of  Belmont’s Teaching Center.

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University, Middle School Students Create Fifth ‘Edgehill’s Best’

Rose Park Journalism Club-107-XLThe partnership between Belmont University and Rose Park Middle Magnet School culminated Friday with seventh and eighth grade students from the middle school’s journalism club seeking advice from University students, receiving instruction from Belmont instructors and using the Media Studies journalism lab to write articles.

For the fifth consecutive year, Belmont journalism students worked with the middle school’s newspaper staff to produce Edgehill’s Best. The students received weekly tutorials from four Belmont Vision students and newspaper adviser and journalism instructor Dorren Robinson throughout the spring semester, learning how to develop story ideas, interview sources and write leads. Heather Thompson, a senior from Chattanooga, Tenn., created the lesson plans to teach the principles of journalism to the Rose Park students.

While on campus Friday, the students interviewed Belmont Director of Development and Major Gifts Harry Chapman, retired Tennessean Editorial Page Editor Dwight Lewis, Belmont Communications Specialist Juanita Cousins and Tennessean reporter Brian Wilson and wrote articles on their panel discussion. The students also toured the University’s campus and ate lunch alongside Belmont students in the cafeteria.

Rose Park Journalism Club-109-XLNicole Vincent, a seventh-grade geography teacher and the newspaper’s adviser, said she hopes the visit to Belmont gave her journalism students “valuable career information” through their exposure to the college campus and Nashville journalists.

“This is their reward – to get the newspapers and see their names in print and to learn about life on campus,” Robinson said. “The point of the newspaper is not just for Rose Park. The point of it is to get information out to the whole community, and for them to  be proud of their students.”

Instructor of Journalism Hyangsook Lee designed and laid out the newspaper, and the University printed 5,000 copies for distribution in the Edgehill community. In addition, it is given to Metro Council members and left in bins at local churches, restaurants, community centers and gas stations throughout the summer. This spring’s edition covers the new 12 South police precinct, Rose Park Middle School renovations, information on E.S. Rose Park, student fundraisers and the University’s Bridges to Belmont program, among other topics.

Actor Corbin Bernsen Speaks to Students about Faith & Film

corben bernsen-1Actor, director and producer Corbin Bernsen spoke to students, faculty and staff about his faith and film career during a convocation event in Neely Dining Hall on Wednesday.

“I rediscovered my faith through film,” Bernsen said. “Jesus is my way to God, and God is this incredible mystery that has guided my life to this very moment.”

Bernsen has starred in the TV shows “L.A. Law,” “JAG” and “Psych,” as well as in TV movies like “An American Affair” and serials such as “The Young and the Restless” and “General Hospital,” and in more than a dozen films, including “Major League.” He has both a B.F.A. in Theatre Arts and an M.F.A. in Playwriting from UCLA, and is president of Home Theater Films, which produces “smart family entertainment,” including full-length movies such as “Rust” that inspire families with new ways to approach life and strengthen community.

Bernsen explained that his search for truth has guided his entire career and inspired his films.

“I am sitting here for a purpose, but I don’t know which way I am supposed to go,” Bernsen said. “I ask God for help, and I hear, ‘Keep going. Know me. Know love. Know truth.’”

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