Belmont University comes from a long tradition of pioneers who stood fast for the truth and strived to inspire hope. The history of this organization is one of perseverance and hard work. The first Belmont College for Young Women was established in 1890 on the grounds of Adelicia Acklen’s former Belle Monte mansion by two female schoolteachers, Susan Heron and Ida Hood. The college defied the conventional finishing school paradigm by offering cultural, academic, and social learning to provide its students with the skills they need to live meaningful lives. It began with 90 registered students and a $60 tuition fee. Today, Belmont University enrolls almost 9,000 students from more than 33 nations and every state in the union. The campus sits on 93 picturesque acres that are located two miles from downtown Nashville, Tennessee. Without question, Belmont’s history testifies to an innovative spirit that continues to this day and has been recognized by U.S. News & World Report for 15 consecutive years.
The Leading Education Center
At Belmont University, the team believes they are not only well-positioned but called to be a catalyst for instilling such hope in the world around them. As a campus, it aims to “Let Hope Abound.” The university is called to do so by educating and forming students to become leaders of character and purpose while imbuing them with an entrepreneurial mindset to address today’s challenges and inequities. In addition, Belmont seeks to embrace Nashville and middle Tennessee, working with neighbors near and far to meet needs and help their hometown and surrounding rural areas thrive. The university states its desire to contribute, “By finding creative solutions to endemic problems that exacerbate brokenness, suffering, and injustice and inhibit abundant life.”
Belmont is also well-positioned to do so as a Christ-centered university that embraces hospitality and inclusion. Christians are called to see and honor every individual as made in the image of God, regardless of race, gender, religion, sexual orientation, ability, or economic status. Through all of its efforts, Belmont can help reweave the social fabric, both within its own campus community and through its influence on the broader world.
Dr. Greg Jones, a well-known example of entrepreneurial leadership, began his tenure as Belmont University’s president on June 1st, 2021 in Nashville, Tennessee. He formerly held the position of longstanding dean of Duke Divinity School prior to his appointment at Belmont (from 1997-2010 and again from 2018-mid 2021). He held a number of positions between 2010 and 2018, such as vice president and vice provost for global strategy at Duke University and provost and executive vice president at Baylor University.
During his time at Belmont, Greg has established a new vision for the institution: “to be the leading Christ-centered university in the world, radically championing the pursuit of life abundant for all people.” More than $35 million in grants and gifts were acquired during his first year, the Belmont Data Collaborative was established, and the Bell Tower Scholars program was expanded to support students at Metro Nashville Public Schools. In addition, the Belmont Accelerator for Social Innovation Collabortion (BASIC) program was created to more closely link Belmont students, faculty, and staff to the local community in order to develop programs that promote social good.
A gifted speaker, Jones is the author or editor of 19 books, including the 2021 release Navigating the Future: Traditioned Innovation for Wilder Seas (with Andrew P. Hogue), which outlines his perspective on traditioned innovation as “A habit of being and living that cultivates a certain kind of moral imagination shaped by storytelling and expressed in creative, transformational action.” An ordained United Methodist minister, Jones has published more than 200 articles in a variety of publications.
In addition to being a remarkable speaker, media contributor, and thought leader in the fields of theology, social innovation, and higher education, Dr. Jones recently joined the Partnership for American Democracy’s National Leadership Council and is presently a senior fellow at the Fuqua-Coach K Center on Leadership and Ethics as well as Leadership Education, which he founded. He earned his bachelor’s degree in speech communication from the University of Denver, his master’s degree in public administration from Duke University, and his doctorate in theology from the same institution. He now holds positions on the boards of the India Collective, the McDonald Agape Foundation, and the John Templeton Foundation.
Picking the Top Talents
Belmont considers an application based on the overall image that the student’s credentials convey. If high school pupils demonstrate a rigorous academic program for college preparation, they will be seen favorably for admission. Students should be in the top half of their graduating class and have a core cumulative grade-point average that is above average. Essays, activity logs, and recommendations are all highly valued as indications of success at Belmont. Additional prerequisites like auditions or portfolios are required when applying to specific majors.
Each application is considered on an individual basis. No two applicants will present the same credentials or the same degree of “fit” with the university. The management states, “Our desire is to work with each student to determine the likelihood of that student to enroll, graduate, and benefit from the Belmont educational experience.” Belmont’s duties revolve around fulfilling its mission to be “a Christ-centered, student-focused community, developing diverse leaders of purpose, character, wisdom and transformational mindset, eager and equipped to make the world a better place.”
Efforts to Making Education System Advance
At many higher education institutions, the focus for students revolves strictly around academic rigor. Each pupil is only another mind that has to be filled with information before being sent out into the world to find their place. Belmont University’s mission is to create and mold students into fully fledged academic, emotional, physical, cultural, and spiritual beings. In other words, Belmont is a Christ-centered institution to help them develop their entire character.
Belmont President Greg Jones said, “What does a student of well-formed character look like when they go out into the world? I am reminded of a story told to me by someone who had recently spent time in the hospital. ‘I was treated by a Belmont nurse,’ this person said. When I asked how he knew the nurse was from Belmont, he explained that they were ‘competent, caring, compassionate, a person of character’. My dream for Belmont is that the students we graduate and send into the world are all easily recognized as Belmont somethings. Belmont lawyers, Belmont teachers, Belmont scientists, and on and on. That their character sets them apart.”
In addition, Belmont is committed to successful outcomes for students while also seeking to ensure graduates give ample time to examining and exploring larger questions about their purpose in both their vocation and their lives. To that end, the University initiated a Purpose Mentorship program (funded by the Arthur Vining Davis Foundation and the Coalition for Life Transforming Education) to match current students with Belmont alumni who can assist them on their purpose journey, as well as launched a distinctive “What’s Your Why” class led by Dr. Jones and his wife, Rev. Susan Pendleton Jones.
Dr. Amy Crook, Vice President for Transformative Innovation, Character, and Purpose, said, “As a Christ-centered university, we believe in fostering student imaginations for dreams that are less concerned with self-ambition and more oriented toward helping communities thrive. The purpose mentorship program cultivates this connection of one’s heart for others within students’ desired career paths.”
Working to Achieve a Great Vision
Belmont University employs more than 1,000 academic faculty and staff members, yet the campus still has a small-town feel to it where everyone knows most of their coworkers and where everyone works hard to provide exceptional service. Academically demanding instruction and encouragement for holistic growth are provided to students. The university offers a range of possibilities for professional and personal growth and encourages all staff members to advance in their careers. Belmont University is dedicated to cultivating a diverse learning environment.
During the first half of 2022, Belmont University engaged key stakeholders—including faculty, staff, and students—in an intentional strategic visioning process intended to map the university’s trajectory to 2030. Informed by new mission and vision statements, the campus engaged in a highly collaborative process that allowed people to find themselves and their work along this aspirational path while setting God-sized dreams for Belmont’s future.
The University’s trajectory to 2030 is informed by an aspirational aim tied to its vision statement: To be the leading Christ-centered university in the world, radically championing the pursuit of a life abundant for all people.
An Aspirational Aim for 2030
To be widely recognized as the leading Christ-centered university in the world, known for:
- Forming diverse leaders of character
- Equipping people to solve the world’s complex problems through teaching, research and service
- Being radical champions for helping people and communities’ flourish
Five Strategic Pathways to Achieve the Aspirational Aim
- Be the model for whole person formation, to teach and develop people of character, purpose, wisdom and transformational mindset.
- Lead the way in data-informed social innovation to enable regions to thrive.
- Champion an integrative approach to achieve better health and well-being for all.
- Embrace hope and inclusive excellence to help reweave the social fabric.
- Amplify storytelling to inspire the world with messages of truth, beauty and goodness.
Words from Leadership
President Greg Jones said, “What does a student of well-formed character look like when they go out into the world? I am reminded of a story told to me by someone who had recently spent time in the hospital. I was treated by a Belmont nurse,’ this person said. When I asked how he knew the nurse was from Belmont, he explained that they were ‘competent, caring, compassionate, a person of character’. My dream for Belmont is that the students we graduate and send into the world are all easily recognized as Belmont somethings. Belmont lawyers, Belmont teachers, Belmont scientists, and on, and on. That their character sets them apart.”
Vice President for Transformative Innovation, Character, and Purpose Dr. Amy Crook said, “We want students to realize they are more than their job. Their ultimate happiness, fulfillment, joy, and ability to make the world a better place is much larger than their job titles. We aren’t just training students for a job; we are forming whole people, and we want them to feel confident in exploring these bigger questions. And we are doing so through supportive, caring contacts who can be honest about the obstacles they faced and the opportunities where they were able to make choices to have a more fulfilling life.”
What students say?
“If I could describe campus in a phrase, I would have to say ‘open arms.’ It feels like home here on Belmont’s campus. Our big buzz word on campus is community. We always talk about the community. It really is amazing. People are super genuine here, and they want you to succeed in the future.”