Yusufu Jinkiri Joins Belhaven’s Legacy of Learning

Yusufu Jinkiri, Assistant Professor of Business Administration, celebrated 20 years of teaching at Belhaven University and recently joined the university’s Legacy of Learning.

Yusufu was born and raised in Nigeria to Muslim parents, but became a Christian at an early age. He attended Ahmadu Bello University in Nigeria where he received an undergraduate degree in Economics, before coming to the United States to pursue a Ph.D. from the University of Connecticut.

After going back and receiving a Master’s degree in theology from Wheaton College, Yusufu heard of Belhaven from Dr. Chip Mason.

“His family and mine had attended the same church for a number of years,” Yusufu said. “Through my interactions with him, he informed me of a teaching opportunity at Belhaven. The rest is history!”

“When I first arrived on campus, Bettye Quinn warmly welcomed me. She gave me a book and a card that made a positive and lasting impression on me, added Yusufu.

Since coming to Belhaven, Yusufu has taught a wide variety of courses in the business school. But the campus has changed greatly since he first joined the faculty in 1998.

“The construction projects on campus have been a wonderful change,” Yusufu said. “We have added new academic programs and expanded our reach to a number of campuses outside of Jackson. But we have not wavered on the academic quality that we offer students, as well as our emphasis on the Christian Worldview.”

Even after 20 years of teaching, Yusufu continues to be encouraged daily by his students.

“One of my favorite memories at Belhaven is when students come to my office and we are able to pray together. It is encouraging to know that the Lord answers our prayers – always according to His perfect will.”

Belhaven’s Ron Pirtle Named Chaplain of Chattanooga Police Department

Ron Pirtle has cared for many students at Belhaven University. But after a personal tragedy where he saw the impact that chaplains had, he knew he wanted to serve in a similar capacity.

Shortly after his little sister passed away in 2010 and while working with a focus on student success at the main campus in Jackson, he inquired about serving in the Chaplaincy with the Mississippi National Guard.

“I originally thought this would be a perfect fit,” said Pirtle. “I have always wanted to give back to others in some form. Since my family was impacted by various chaplains when my little sister passed away, I wanted to serve with the National Guard.”

While in the process of joining, regulations changed that prevented Pirtle from serving with the Mississippi National Guard. Shortly after, Pirtle had an opportunity to move to Belhaven’s Chattanooga campus, where he now serves as the Dean of Faculty.

One of those faculty members was Tuwan Ussery, who teaches Social Work at Belhaven’s Chattanooga campus. Ussery also serves as the lead chaplain with the Chattanooga Police Department.

“After speaking to him, I became interested in serving as a chaplain again,” said Pirtle. “I will be ministering to police officers, their families as well as victims of crime and their families.”

“Being able to serve the officers of CPD will allow me to lice out Belhaven’s motto of ‘To Serve, Not to Be Served,’ “ added Pirtle. “I consider it an honor to be able to serve the men and women who have dedicated their lives to protect and serve us all. I’m grateful that God has given me the opportunity to work at an institution like Belhaven that encourages service to others.”

Belhaven Dance Faculty, Students Working to Help Parkinson’s Patients

Dancers are described as many things. Graceful. Beautiful. Creative. Artistic. All are certainly true, but at the heart of it, professionally trained dancers are movement experts. For the 10 million people worldwide that are living with Parkinson’s disease, dancers can provide a unique form of therapy.

A dancer’s expert knowledge about balance, sequencing, rhythm and aesthetic awareness is useful for those with Parkinson’s disease. Founded in 2001 in New York City, Dance for PD provides specialized dance classes to people with Parkinson’s, as well as their families, friends and care partners.

In 2013, trainers from the New York program came to Jackson to lead a teacher training course. Krista Bower, Chair of the Belhaven University Dance Department, was able to get involved and helped launch an affiliate class in Jackson.

“Our participants come from all over the Jackson metro area and some of them have been dancing with us since the beginning of the program,” said Bower. “Our students range from the newly diagnosed to those using canes, walkers or even wheelchairs. All dance phrases are modified by a co-instructor so that everyone can participate and fully enjoy the class.”

The classes are held on Monday evenings on the Millsaps campus. Faculty and students from Belhaven, Millsaps and the University of Mississippi Medical Center are highly involved.

“Dance is a wonderful activity for all people, and specifically for people with Parkinson’s disease because it instills grace, confidence, freedom and fluidity of movement while also building creativity and a sense of community,” added Bower.

Mariah Henry, a senior dance major at Belhaven, chose to research and participate in the Dance for Parkinson’s classes as part of her senior project. She choreographed and printed a dance work that involved Belhaven dance students as well as members of the Dance for Parkinson’s class. Junior dance major Andi Knudson filmed and edited a documentary on the program for her Choreography for the Camera coursework last spring.

“Through this program, students from Belhaven and Millsaps have had the opportunity to engage with community members and to use their gifts to serve others,” said Bower. “They learn about new ways to apply their knowledge from the fields of dance and neuroscience in service to the community.”

For more information on Dance for Parkinson’s, visit www.danceforparkinsons.org . The local program is sponsored by the Millsaps College Community Enrichment Program

Chris Culnane, Belhaven’s Director of Library Services, Honored for 20 Years of Service

Chris Culnane remembers it well. While working in the library at Reformed Theological Seminary, Belhaven’s former Director of Libraries Gretchen Cook gave him a call.

“There was an opening for a night librarian,” recalled Culnane. “RTS and Belhaven had a good relationship, and I felt like this was a good opportunity for me at the time.”

Culnane took that position as night librarian, working until 11:00 p.m. most nights for 15 years. In 2012, another opportunity was in front of him when the Director of Libraries position opened up.

“I asked the staff whether I should consider it, and whether they could work with me,” Culnane said in a recent interview.

The staff agreed and Culnane was named the Director of Libraries, a position that he still holds today. His leadership has come at a crucial time, as technology has dramatically changed the Belhaven University library.

“The library is smaller than it used to be, but offers more to our students,” said Culnane. “We have over 106,000 e-books and over 44,000 digital journals. We offer students access to nearly 100 databases. Every student on campus has the opportunity to do research in their field of study.”

Culnane, who received both his undergraduate and graduate degrees from Indiana University, recalls a time when the Warren Hood Library was the central hub of student activity.

“We sometimes had trouble keeping students quiet,” joked Culnane. “When the new student center was built, most of the activity moved there.”

Culnane recalls some of his cherished memories at Belhaven, revolving around his birthday. Dr. Edwin McAliuster, a former English professor and several students set up a surprise birthday for him, complete with cupcakes that spelled out his name.
“Howard Barr had given me an envelope about 9 months before my 64th birthday,” said Culnane. “He told me not to open it until my birthday, and I obliged. When I opened it, it was a CD of the Beatles’ ‘When I’m Sixty-Four!’

Congratulations to Chris Culnane on his 20 years of service at Belhaven University and his induction into the Legacy of Learning.

Dr. Don Hubele Celebrates 20 Years at Belhaven, Enters Legacy of Learning

Dr. Don Hubele, Professor and Chair of the English Department at Belhaven University, was formally inducted into the university’s Legacy of Learning after serving students on campus for 20 years.

Much has changed at Belhaven over the beloved Dr. Hubele’s time here. When he and his wife Donna first came to Belhaven in 1997, the student body was much smaller, the facilities were fewer and the theatre department lacked baritones for its musical, El Gayo.

“I got to have the lead role in the first musical,” laughed Dr. Hubele. “I will remember that as one of my cherished memories of my time at Belhaven.”

Dr. Hubele repeated a story that he has told from time to time about his first days.

“I went fishing with Dr. Parrott and Dr. (Joe) Martin,” he said. “We were on the Pearl River where it meets the sewage plant. The only way to get to where the fish were was to go across the rotting trusses. Ir was hot, there were mosquitoes and poisonous snakes and it was terrifying! But we made it and it was one of the funniest things.”

Dr. Hubele was instrumental in the writing, development and implementation of Belhaven’s Worldview curriculum. He served Belhaven as a student life dean, a coach and a faculty athletic representative, and directed a number of overseas trips to the Caribbean, Australia, Mexico and Central America.

“One of the things that drew me to Belhaven was that I was tired of Christian colleges and universities that had glossy brochures and good mottos, but were following the ways of secular universities. Dr. (Dan) Fredericks called me and asked me to interview and help write the Christian worldview curriculum where the courses are interconnected under the aegis of the lordship of Christ. I knew this is where I needed to be.”

This fall, Dr. Hubele begins his 21st year teaching at Belhaven and his 40th year in Christian higher education. A new crop of scholars will join the thousands of students that have sat under his learning tree.

“One of the great joys of my life is Advanced Freshman Composition,” said Dr. Hubele. “There is always a new crop of brilliant young scholars that are so eager and joyous. You can’t be depressed being around these students. These are the most brilliant kids on campus and it is usually set up so that it is the first class they ever take in college.”

Congratulations, Dr. Hubele on your 20 years at Belhaven and your induction into the Legacy of Learning. 


Ms. Bettye Quinn, Associate Professor of Education, has seen a lot in her time as a student and professor at Belhaven University.

Ms. Quinn, who celebrates her 82nd birthday this week, will soon begin her 52nd year of teaching at her alma mater this fall.

“I’ve been working at Belhaven for 52 years, working at the Children’s hospital for 62 years, been a member of my church for 72 years, and this week I’ll celebrate 82 years on earth,” said Quinn, who sat down with us for an interview recently.

Ms. Quinn recalls her earliest memories of Belhaven came as a small child on campus to watch the Singing Christmas Tree, a tradition that turns 85 this Christmas. As a student and later faculty member, she participated in the Singing Christmas Tree.

She routinely runs into her former students, many of which have gone on to careers as doctors, lawyers, judges, and of course teachers. Once, a chance run-in with a former student almost went awry.

“I had a former student that was an FBI agent, and he was looking a little rough,” said Quinn. “I saw him and spoke, and he quickly had to tell me that he was working undercover and that I could not be seen talking to him!”

You’ll find “Ms. Bettye” at theatre and dance performances, concerts in the music department, athletic contests and just about anything that involves her students.

“When I was a student and early in my teaching career, I could attend everything,” said Quinn. “As Belhaven has grown, there’s always something going on. I had to leave a concert at intermission to attend a theatre performance.”

We want to wish Ms. Quinn a Happy Birthday and a successful 52nd year of service to Belhaven University.

Belhaven Reboots Computer Science Program

As the fall semester gets underway on campus, there is an all new program for students at Belhaven to take advantage of. Computer Science makes its return as a major at Belhaven, and alumnus Dr. David O’Gwynn ’99 is excited to lead it.

“Computer science has changed dramatically from the academic programs of the past,” said Dr. Roger Parrott, President of Belhaven University. “I’m thrilled that our new major will be on the front edge of what students need to get the best jobs in the computer science industry.”

Classes have already started and students are getting the insight they need to succeed in their field of study. Students are learning and creating web and network-enabled software. The core curriculum of the new program is centered around network services and incorporates concentrations in cyber security and indie gaming. Students pursuing an emphasis in cyber security are studying network defense, cyber intelligence, malware reverse engineering, incident response as well as network intrusion and defense.

“One needs only scan the headlines to understand that our networked world is a very hostile place,” said Dr. O’Gwynn. “Businesses and governments alike are under constant attack in the cyber domain from criminals, extremists and others. We are preparing our students for that world, giving them the tools to protect and defend the systems they will build and maintain.”

Dr. O’Gwynn worked at Massachusetts Institute of Technology: MIT Lincoln Laboratory where he was a technical staff member of the Cyber Systems and Operations Group.  Dr. O’Gwynn worked on projects dealing with cyber situational awareness and the support of national cyber defense. He received his PhD in computer science from University of Alabama at Birmingham in 2011, his M.S. in computational engineering from Mississippi State University in 2003 and his B.S. in mathematics from Belhaven University in 1999.  His PhD thesis was on a topological approach to shape analysis and alignment.

Belhaven Professor Honored With Prestigious Award

Dr. Elayne Hayes-Anthony, Professor and Chair of the Communications Department, was recently named the 2014 recipient of the Mississippi Humanities Council Teacher Award. The award recognizes the contribution of humanities faculty at each of the state’s colleges and universities.

As part of the award’s commitment to the humanities, each recipient prepares and delivers a public lecture prior to receiving this prestigious award. Dr. Anthony presented her lecture “Breaking News: A Christian Journalist Perspective,” right here on campus last week to a packed audience in Barber Auditorium.

With the attention that the news media is garnering in America, Dr. Anthony’s lecture provides a unique Christian viewpoint at how Christian journalists report in today’s high-paced media environment. To view the entire presentation, check out the video below.