Category: Personal Development

New Dean in Atlanta & Leadership

by Dr. Kotina Hall

As the new Dean of Faculty at Belhaven Atlanta, I have found it necessary to review critical leadership practices to not only provide a renewed sense of direction, but to excite critical directives that produce sound results to ignite extraordinary possibilities. I have found Kouzes and Posner’s (1995) Five Practices of Exemplary Leadership to be the catalyst to do just that.

Kouzes and Posner introduce Five Practices of Exemplary Leadership which have proven life changing:  Inspiring a Shared Vision, Challenging the Process, Encouraging the Heart, Enabling Others to Act, and Modeling the Way. Many have tried to choose the practice they deem most viable to the success of the organization.  Consequently, I believe one cannot survive without the other. Each practice is unique in that it serves as a connector to the other and further yields results of trust, integrity, moral aptitude, a “can do” attitude, and empowerment. However, none of which is more important than the other.  Rather, each compliments as a necessity to the other for effective leadership to occur.

Effective leadership is a buzz phrase that should not be taken lightly. While everyone has the ability to lead, not everyone approaches the responsibility with purposed commitment. That commitment is usually the difference between being a good leader and being a great leader. What is the differentiator between the two? The deciding factor is understanding that our positions often equip us with breaking lives or changing lives. It is my continued goal to exercise the latter both in and outside of the University.

“The empirical literature in leadership has shown that transformational leadership is where leaders and followers raise one another to higher levels of motivation and morality” (Burns, 1978, p. 20).  As leaders, we know it is not always an easy task to exercise each practice. Some days we just will not feel like it. It is during these times that it becomes necessary to do so anyway. Such days prove to be our discipleship test. In doing so, let us model the way of Paul and Silas, and pray anyway. Even in prison, they praised. It is necessary to understand that we are blessed to be a blessing to others.

The Five Practices of Exemplary Leadership are cyclic in that they are transferable to academic, personal and professional lives. Therefore, we are afforded countless opportunities to master the practices in order to effortlessly and purposely execute them. I implore each of us to continue to focus on the totality of these practices in efforts to foster life changing growth as leaders and to gain a “level of commitment, engagement, and satisfaction of those that follow.” It will not always be easy, but our walk is not designed to be.

Beware of Becoming Stale

Stale when applied to food means: “no longer fresh and pleasant to eat; hard, musty, or dry.”(Source)  When applied to Instructors it might mean “no longer current in subject content, pedagogy outdated or out-of-sync with audience, boring, irrelevant, etc.”  This is an ever present possibility for all of us in an age when everything seems to be moving at high speed.  We all know of the need to stay relevant, both in our subject and in our delivery, the question is, “Do you have a strategy to make sure you aren’t (or haven’t become) STALE?”

Let me recommend one piece of my strategy which I use that help you in this regard.  It can apply to your teaching subject but also may cross apply to any area of your life, even your spiritual life.  I set up a free account at Bloglovin‘.   Once my account was set up I added several blogs (from the icon of a person in the top right corner select Edit Blogs You Follow) from sources which align with my interests, such as:

Bloglovin’ additionally makes it easy to search for other blogs which may interest you.  Once you have set it up, you will simply get an email each day with the posts that have been made to the blogs on your list.  Typically my email only includes two or at most three links since most bloggers don’t post daily.  Then I can choose to click on the link and read the post, or ignore it.  Easy as that.

Of course, this shouldn’t be the only way your are developing yourself, but hopefully you will find this a useful addition to your development strategy.

Additional Resources

We have had some amazing webinars over the past year and in some cases those webinars have had accompanying handouts.  I was thinking about this when I was setting up the last webinar and thought about the fact that there are many of you who haven’t been able to attend a weblog1binar or taken the opportunity to view a webinar, and thus are missing out on these great resources.  With that in mind, I asked to have the Faculty Resources page of the Blog re-designed to make those handouts available to you.  To get to them, you simply click on the Faculty Resources box at the top of the Blog page.  This will take you to the Resources page.  In the right navigation pannel you will find the full listing of all the webinar recordings that have been made so far.  Below the blog2webinar list is a short list of White Papers and now below that is a list of Other Resources which is essentially the handouts from the webinars.  I think you will find there are some extremely useful tools there and encourage you to take a look.

I am continually looking for ways to get useful information into your hands.  If you have an idea for a webinar either that you would like to see, or perhaps one that you feel would benefit a majority of our faculty, I encourage you to contact me at  This is also true for a White Paper.  I will be happy to evaluate it for inclusion on this site.


CWV: Practical Applications for the Classroom

by Paul Criss,
Dean of Faculty, Memphis and Desoto

This is a summary of the Webinar by the same title presented by Dr. Criss on May 17, 2016.  You can view the webinar at this link.  There are handouts that can be downloaded from within the webinar.

This webinar is an overview of worldview principles and how to apply them in the adult learner classroom. The presenter is Dr. Paul Criss who possesses sixteen years of experience teaching higher education worldview courses. The presentation begins with an overview of worldview discovery, the Christian Theistic worldview, and criteria for a well-defined personal worldview. Some questions answered in the first half are:

  • How is a worldview like a belly button, a cerebellum, or breathing?
  • What are the essential aspects of a worldview and why is it important?
  • How does an adult learner decide which worldview is best?
  • What is the faculty member’s role in worldview instruction?

The second half of the webinar includes a process to analyze ideas and concepts, as well as practical tools to use in the classroom, such as: CWV Integrated Lesson Plan, Cultural Analysis, Immunization Technique, Reflective Action, KWAT discussion, and Integrative Questioning. The presentation closes with an overview of resources (including discipline specific resources) and websites that have assisted the presenter in the past.

I encourage you to watch the recorded webinar and download the attached documents.

Dean’s Panel Discussion on Faculty

Last week the distance campus Dean’s met for their annual Summit.  This is an important meeting which allows for sharing of information and formulation of strategy for the coming year.  One of the highlights of the Summit this year was the inclusion of a live webinar broadcast from the Summit in which the Deans all participated in a discussion focused around their role in working with faculty.  The questions asked included:

  1. What would you describe as the central characteristics of the Ideal Instructor?
  2. What are the top challenges you face in working with or scheduling faculty?
  3. When you visit a classroom for a faculty observation what are some of the best and worst things you have seen? (no names, please)
  4. With our emphasis on holding students the full scheduled class period, what are some specific activities faculty can use other than lecturing or group discussion during that final hour?
  5. What are some ways that you could recommend to generate student engagement both within the classroom and outside of it?

There were some other questions asked, as well as some audience participation.   The bottom line: Our faculty are AMAZING!!!   Great things are happening in the classroom and in the lives of our students because of your service and dedication.  We can’t thank you enough for all you do.

Overall it was a great discussion and I hope you will take the time to view it at this LINK.


The Q Continuum of Adult Learning

by:  Dr. Paul Criss
Dean of Faculty – Memphis and DeSoto

It is not a new word, but it is a word that is taking on new permutations. It is the word quotient. It has been used for measuring levels of intelligence or, actually, the intellectual potential of individuals. Recently, the word “quotient” has been used to describe several facets of learning that adult learners need to experience. This learning is described and best experienced in an ongoing fashion; thus, the use of continuum and the faculty member can be a facilitator of the student’s continual process of learning. What are these facets of learning?

The first Q is Intelligence Quotient. It is about developing each adult student’s intellectual potential and skill capacity. It is measured through performance. It is ongoing development and is inclusive of many concepts in education…everything from learning styles and multiple intelligences to academic language and quantitative reasoning. We likely focus on this the most in academia, especially within the various disciplines; therefore, it needs the least explanation. The other three Qs, however, may need further explanation: Emotional Intelligence, Cultural Intelligence, and Ethical Servant Leadership Intelligence.


Emotional Intelligence (EQ) is the ability to gauge our own and others’ emotional state and what we do with that understanding. I want to discuss this in depth in the next article EQ in the Adult Learner Classroom. Cultural Intelligence (CQ), much like EQ, is the ability to gauge cultural distinctiveness in ourselves and others and also considers what we do with that understanding.  Those who discuss CQ start with an individual’s CQ drive – the motivation to learn about one’s own culture and to engage in another’s cultural distinctiveness. CQ knowledge includes one’s knowledge about and experience with another culture. Some of my cultural distinctiveness comes from my Greek heritage. I jokingly tell my students if they want some insight into my childhood and the culture in which I grew up, they should watch My Big Fat Greek Wedding. CQ strategy includes the plans one can make to intentionally learn about or become immersed in a specific culture. Everyone comes from a specific culture and sometimes a different culture is right next door. CQ action describes putting the plans into practice – what is a person willing to do garner these experiences and this knowledge.

Cultural Intelligence can help us learn about others, overcome language barriers, and accelerate conflict resolution. It also assists in emerging from a “my way” attitude to an “our way” attitude in accomplishing goals. In the adult learner classroom this begins with simply learning about the person sitting next to you and can evolve into learning about the people around the world through courses such as international business to international immersion experiences. David Livermore states in his book Cultural Intelligence: Improving Your CQ to Engage Our Multicultural World, “Rather than CQ conflicting with Christianity or being merely a reflection of politically correct agendas, CQ is most at home in Christianity. The commitment to express and communicate love in ways the other can understand is one of the distinctions of our faith compared to many other religions.” As those called to be agents of cultural transformation, we should be leading the way in cultural understanding.

The Bible tells us that Jesus was full of “grace and truth” (John 1:14b New International  Version) and that He “grew in wisdom and stature, in favor with God and men” (Luke 2:52). That is the goal of  true Christian higher education – the goal for every member of the faculty and every student under the institution’s care. Ethical Servant Leadership Intelligence (ESLQ) is the ability to lead others by serving with integrity within the highest ethical realm defined by the Christian Worldview. The phrase “servant leadership” was “coined” by Robert K. Greenleaf in an essay he wrote in 1970 called The Servant as Leader; in the essay he said, “The servant-leader is servant first…It beings with the natural feeling that one wants to serve, to serve first. Then conscious choice brings one to aspire to lead…care taken by the servant – first to make sure that other people’s highest priority needs are being served. The best test, and difficult to administer, is: Do those served grow as persons? Do they, while being served, become healthier, wiser, freer, more autonomous, more likely themselves to become servants? And, what is the effect on the least privileged in society? Will they benefit or at least not be further deprived?” The adult learner classroom focuses on the growth of students in servant-leadership by sharing leadership through roundtable dialogue, putting the needs of the student above the needs of the faculty member (without compromising personal conscience or institutional faithfulness and policy), and assisting students in developing the highest performance possible. Of course, we know that the originator and exemplar of true servant-leadership is the one who said, “the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve” (Matthew 20:28; Mark 10:45) and He continues to calls us to sacrificial service through our calling in academia.

Overall the Q Continuum is about providing a holistic educational experience that not only addresses intellectual development, but emotional, social, ethical, and spiritual development as well. I believe this kind of development is what the Apostle Paul referred when he states, “Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.” So it seems that the physical is based on the spiritual; what we do with our hands, is based on what is in our heart and head; our actions are based on our beliefs. By renewing our mind with God’s Word, literally God’s perspective, not only can we change our actions, but we can discern what is truly “good, pleasing, and perfect” and, in doing so, influence others. Surprisingly, the Q Continuum is very biblical and practical; it is actually what those who will employ our students desire in their employees. The Association of American Colleges has stated, “Ninety-one percent of employers say it is important that those they hire demonstrate ethical judgment, integrity, intercultural skills, and the capacity for continued new learning.” Imagine that!

Types of Instructors in Adult Studies Programs

I’ve been working in Adult Studies for a long time, almost all of it dedicated to administration and faculty development.  Along the way I’ve conducted numerous classroom observations, read stacks of student end of course evaluations, and had the pleasure of being the assigned instructor in a number of courses.  All of that has prepared me to share with you the top 5 types of Instructors you are most likely to see in an Adult Studies classroom.  Do you see yourself in any of the descriptions below?

The Jolly Rancher – this Instructor seems to be always in a good mood and you can tell students love the classes she teaches because they are so much fun, not to mention the fact that almost everyone always gets an ‘A’ for the course. Often the Jolly Rancher’s devotion to the subject matter is tempered by personal stories and digressions – but everyone has a good time.  While being well liked, the Jolly Rancher is not deeply committed to academic rigor or pushing student too hard for fear of rejection or poor evaluations.

The Muskateer – This Instructor is extremely competent, and somewhat arrogant.  He knows his subject thoroughly and clearly indicates that he is the smartest person in the room, by actions and attitude, if not verbally.  Often disdainful of student attempts or the curriculum, the Muskateer primarily uses lecture to teach, because of course, there is very little he could learn from mere students.  He is the embodiment of the saying “the sage on the stage.”

The PayDay – This Instructor is primarily motivated by getting paid to teach.  The passion for teaching, if it ever existed, has faded away leaving a jaded and mediocre teacher who wants nothing more than to get through the course with as little drama as possible.  Creativity and concern for student learning is not part of the PayDay Instructor’s mindset.  Doing as little as possible is more her style.

The Almond Joy – This Instructor is ENGAGED.  Everything about them points to their passion for teaching AND for student learning.  They use a variety of methods to get their content across.  They demonstrate real caring and concern for students.  The Almond Joy never stopped learning and the joy of their life is to pass that learning along to their students.  The Almond Joy holds students accountable for their work and challenges them to become more.  They are considered to be “hard” teachers, but in retrospect, these are the teachers which students cite when they think about who has influenced their life.


You Are Making a Difference! 2013 Graduates Comment 3

Hope you had a great Thanksgiving.  Here are some additional comments (see previous posts for more comments) from the graduates of 2013 that express their thanks for what you have done for them.

My experience going to Belhaven for my AA Degree as well as my BASS was very spiritual and confronting. Having the faith to belief and trust in God gave me the interconnection to discover myself and to make a positive impact on myself as well as others.  I was very inspired going to Belhaven by faith for it gave me a sense of purpose to help me to find myself through my toughest times in my life, I found a sense of purpose to set my goals and finish them. Belhaven allowed me to build faithful relationships with the faculty, Instructors and my colleagues, as well as to form groups to have positive results to where these relationships are proven to be more supportive. Belhaven gave me the opportunity to find the faith I needed to get me through my education and without this faith I don’t believe I could have accomplished this at all. I just want to say Thank you to all of you.


Jackson graduate

From the first meeting with the staff it was obvious that Belhaven was a perfect fit for me.  I always looked forward to walking through the door after a long day at work and being surrounded by people who always seemed to radiate Christianity.  Starting classes with a group prayer always gave us the chance to reflect on how fortunate we were to be in God’s presence and what a gift it was to have an opportunity to share prayer requests with others.  Never dreading a class was such a gift… and the faculty and staff at Belhaven were a large part of that. Taking the time to look into my Christian Worldview and how to focus on that still helps me to teach my boys, how to treat others and focus on making the right decisions today.  Attending Belhaven was a true blessing.

Chattanooga graduate

If I were to give a brief summary of how attending Belhaven has impacted my life, I would say, “Belhaven helped me understand how to deal with people better by introducing me to worldviews!” Before I came to Belhaven I had been known as a person who loves people and could get along with most I meet, but I had some hidden areas of thought concerning people based on decisions they made. The understanding of worldviews helped me bridge relationships with individuals I would not have been able to connect with before because I did not understand them.”

The Belhaven Instructors who really impacted the most were Dr. James Quillin, Dr. Ken Jones, and Dr. Ademola Sodendie.

Overall my experiences at Belhaven was God breathed, I was led to be a part of Belhaven to enhance the area of my life God needed me to improve in! I will forever thank God for the opportunity to attend there and to learn.

Memphis graduate

Belhaven University make me feel authentically supported when they said, “Please let me know how I can be helpful” and genuinely mean it. In addition, the excitement Belhaven staff express to co-learn with me rather than teach me, makes me feel like a partner in my learning experience, when it is so easy to feel like ‘a sponge that can only absorb.’ I know Belhaven staff has so much to share, but I love how Belhaven staff also openly articulate how much I have to share as well and how much they learn by engaging with me!

As educators, you have ensured a role of heightening my knowledge in academics. However, many of you have not seen me as one of the many students you have, but instead you value me for my uniqueness and strengths. Belhaven promotes an environment where I feel like I am able to not only share my contribution, but also know it is actually considered and appreciated. Thank you for being genuine. Thanks to Belhaven University, for seeing me as a partner in learning and sharing. Thank you for being you. Thank you for being one of the few great Christ centered colleges out there. May you inspire others to achieve the greatness you instilled in me.

With gratitude, Jackson graduate

Attending school was another way for me to make a change in my life for the better.  My children and I could live better and would not have to struggle anymore.  It would show my children that no matter what if you believe in yourself; you could accomplish anything.  It was an opening for me to increase my awareness of the world around me, to know the Bible better and to meet students with a similar background.  I decided to go back to school because my job was a dead end and I was not going to advance within the company unless I acquired a degree.  I have had some great teachers and administrators along my journey.  The first one being Dr. Stripling the Literature teacher.  He challenged me in every aspect of my life not just as a student.  He would say do not just read the story and make a conclusion, but read it and apply it to the Bible and your life.   The next person I want to uplift is Elizabeth (asst. admissions director).  She was my cheerleader from the beginning and she believed in me throughout my journey with Belhaven.  I really missed her when she left.  I would like to thank Michelle for always smiling every time I entered the office because I had some rough days and it made a difference in my life.  Veronica was really good too.  She helped with my schedule and making sure I had my books for all of my classes.  Finally, there is Julien.  Julien was a student at the same time I was.  This made his motivation even better because he knew the struggles of being a parent, working and going to school.  I am a stronger person because of these great people and the lessons they taught me.

Houston Graduate


Here are some more comments from the graduates of 2013.  They reiterate what I know: that you are an amazing faculty and that your work touches and changes lives.

I am so blessed to be a Graduate of Belhaven. I had a great experience there both academically and socially. The knowledge I gained at Belhaven has allowed me to have a thriving career with the Mississippi Department of Revenue as a Special Agent. Dr. Howard Bartee is a professor that had a great impact on my life. He challenged me to be a better student and person. I have great memories and I am extremely glad to be a Blazer!!! Keep me lifted in prayer as I enter a new season of my life. I pray that God enlarges the territory of Belhaven University and his hand remains with us all.

Jackson Graduate


Before I began school at Belhaven University in 2009, I prayed that God would lead me to the school that HE wanted me to go to! I wanted GOD to move me out the way. I came to Belhaven with an extremely low GPA so I was very nervous about my college education this time. I wanted to do my very best and learn all I could. The staff at Belhaven always encouraged me. If I had questions about Financial Aid, both Jackson and Memphis worked hard to get me the answers I needed. One of the instructors that had a tremendous impact on me was Dr. Ken Jones, my Psychology/Social Services teacher. He is very knowledgeable in this area. I believed I learned the most from doing his papers and through presentations because of the research we had to put in. He also made learning fun. I believe coming to Belhaven was all a part of God’s plan. I made life-long friends, grew spiritually, and went from a 1.0 GPA to graduating with a 3.92. I am grateful for my journey at Belhaven and thankful for Dr. Ken Jones, Don Jones, Erica Johnson, and Altonious Peterson. I got just what I needed… A valuable education with a Christian Worldview.

Memphis Graduate

My Belhaven experience was very challenging, positive, and rewarding. My instructors pushed me to achieve excellence in my studies and helped me to expand and enrich the Christian worldview I have had since my childhood. I remember Dr. Martin inspiring, encouraging, coercing, and cajoling us to get us through the program. I remember Dr. Jinkiri explaining complex principles of economics without ever cracking the textbook. I remember Dr. Redfern making us consider and discuss difficult ethical dilemmas and try to figure out the best solutions. I remember all of the instructors stressing the importance of being a good public servant, doing the right thing, and behaving in a Christ-like manner at all times. Thanks to all the faculty who made my time at Belhaven so memorable.

Jackson Graduate

When I was at Belhaven in 2013 I was in the first Masters Program at the Chattanooga Campus. Staffing was tight and Dr. Trussell taught most of the classes. The work load was very heavy and I was going through a very busy time at work as well. I can get frustrated at times with bureaucracy. Things like schedules and financial aid drove me nuts. The faculty in Chattanooga all made this part of the process painless for me and eased my worries several times. Susan Haughton in Chattanooga and Susan Smith in Jackson (Financial Aid) were outstanding and the patience they showed me made me realize not only how valuable of an asset they are but how much their work is their ministry.

Their actions gave me pause and caused me to reflect on how I interact with people. I hope I am able to live up to their standards and share the grace they shared with me.

Chattanooga Graduate

You Are Making a Difference! 2013 Graduate Comments 1

I recently asked the 2013 graduates to share their memory of their time at Belhaven University.  I think you will find the comments below to be encouraging.  I will post others as more come in.

The MPA program was so critical in not only my professional development but my spiritual development as well. I was attracted to the program because the classes were once a week and your cohort was relatively small. It was easy to get assignments done because everyone was so encouraging each other. We were all there to accomplish the same goal. The professors that impacted my life during the program was Dr. Ervin Martin, Dr. Nycole Campbell, Ms. Samantha Martin, & Ms. Regina Irvin. They were all so important throughout my tenure at Belhaven. I learned a lot of lessons from all of them & I implement those lessons in not only my professional life but my personal life as well.     MPA Alum ’13, Jackson

Belhaven actually changed my life, my way of thinking and my way of maneuvering through business and life.  ’13, Houston

I think the person that made the biggest impact on me was Dr. Thompson.  He made me challenge my own belief system.  He created real life situations in the business world.  He would also bring articles to class that involved critical thinking.  Dr. Thompson brought a religious critical thinking component to a business world view.  Many of the classes were composed of a business world view with a Christian component. I really appreciated Dr. Thompson making me challenge my own beliefs and get out of my comfort zone.  Not only did I have my own internal monologue to deal with, but I had to defend or reason my belief system vocally.  This forced me to do more research on a biblical level to back up my points when discussion arose. Knowing I can defend my religious views with research, it has allowed me to be more confidence when in the business world to find the resources necessary to back up my stances on situations.   ’13 Memphis

My under graduate experience at Belhaven was wonderful! It was very challenging but absolutely rewarding at the same time.  My instructors were always very willing to work with my busy schedule and yet tough enough to educate me to a higher standard.  The staff at the campus were amazing to say the least and always willing to help in any way they could.  I am now an Operations Manager for GE and my career is looking very bright.  I have used my education to get promoted in my civilian career and in my military career.  Thank-you and the support staff for the opportunity to be a part of the university during my under graduate studies. ’13 Chattanooga