Q&A with Rick Negron, Belhaven’s new Film Production Department Head


Belhaven recently announced the creation of a new Film Production major. This exciting endeavor allows the School of the Arts to expand its offerings into one of the fastest growing career fields. Veteran filmmaker Rick Negron was hired to lead the program, and sat down with Belhaven.NOW to introduce himself to students, parents, faculty, staff and alumni.

Welcome to Belhaven! Tell us a little about yourself.

I’m married with three young daughters, and most of my free time goes to happily chasing them around. Everyone we’ve met has been very warm and inviting, so my family is excited about relocating to the Jackson area.

I’m a fan of good storytelling, whether it be in film, television, novels, comic books, etc. I look forward to exploring the film and the performing arts community in Mississippi.

Film Production is becoming a very popular major at colleges across the nation. What are some career opportunities for majors?

You’re right. Not only is it more popular in colleges, but it’s taking off in high schools as well. The interest has always been there, but I think the main reasons for the current trend are that videos and films are such an integral part of our every day life, and the technology involved with the process is relatively inexpensive.

In terms of career opportunities, students will learn specific technical skills and develop their creative abilities. Therefore, they will be poised to work in film, television, advertising, ministry, and numerous other fields that incorporate film and video. There are so many different paths that students can take, and part of their time at Belhaven will be spent exploring what areas are the best fit for them.

How will a Film Production degree from Belhaven be different?

First, this is one of the few Christian-based film programs in the Southeast United States. Secondly, students at Belhaven will make films; not just study how to make them, but actually make them.

Every semester. As a result, employers will find that our graduates are as comfortable and confident with the filmmaking process as any 22 or 23 year old could be. To achieve this, the curriculum is project-driven and rigorous, but also a lot of fun. Since students work closely with each other and their professors, the process fosters a collaborative, family-like atmosphere.

How will the Christian worldview be integrated into the program?

Filmmaking is basically using a specific medium to tell a story; so storytelling is the foundation of all we do. I believe that our goal as Christian filmmakers is to tell stories that reflect Biblical truth as well as our personal journeys of faith. Every student is different, so Belhaven’s entire discipleship model will inform and influence their work. My role is to challenge and help students wrestle with how to tell their faith-based stories in an original and captivating way.

How can an interested student get started?

Pray and ask questions! Seriously, if this where God wants you to be, he’ll confirm it through seeking information and feeling his peace of assurance. Prospective students can start with the film production program description on the website and then contact me or admissions personnel for more information. For current students, take a class; see if it’s a good fit. For any student, come see me! I’d love to sit down with students and families and talk about the program.


New BlazeNet in Process of Being Launched


Dear Students,

We are working hard to make great improvements to BlazeNet, our intranet system designed to provide you valuable personalized information. We will be releasing the improved BlazeNet in stages throughout the next year.

Starting today, you can log in to https://blazenet.belhaven.edu.  On the log in box, you will type in your user name (FirstNameLastName) and password (what you are already using to log into BlazeNet/Canvas, typically the last 6 digits of your ID unless you already customized it).

Once you enter the “new” BlazeNet, you will be able to do the following:

  • Find a financial aid award letter and documents under Self Service
  • See your unread e-mail messages
  • Read campus announcements and news
  • Link to the “current” BlazeNet under Quick Links

After you complete your FAFSA, you will receive notification from the Office of Financial Aid regarding how to use BlazeNet to access your required documents and your award letter.

We will be working hard throughout the summer to add more information and features to the new BlazeNet, and we will continue to communicate those changes with you.

If you have trouble with your password, contact: helpdesk@belhaven.edu / 601-968-8777

If you have trouble with your financial aid documents, contact: studentaid@belhaven.edu / 601-968-5933

Sports Administration Students Study Abroad in London


Sports Administration students from Belhaven University recently had a chance to see the inner workings of major sports – in London!

Students met with and learned from professional sports leaders across the host city of the last Summer Olympics. They visited Wimbledon, Wembley Stadium, Kingston and Cambridge Universities as well as the offices of NFL Europe and the British Olympic Training Center.

“The success of the London Trip provided a great experience for our faculty and students in our department to see the world of sports abroad”, said Dr. Howard Bartee Jr., Chair/Assistant Professor of the Sports Administration Department. “It is my hope that this experience will set the foundation for future opportunities, as we continue seeking to expand our reach of servant leadership through the academic discipline of sports administration, both locally, nationally, regionally, and internationally.”

Belhaven senior Jonathan Dickson, a member of the Blazers’ men’s soccer team, called the trip the highlight of his time at Belhaven.

“Being a Sports Medicine and Exercise Science major, my goals were to gain an international vantage point in regards to health and wellness,” Dickson said. “We were truly immersed in a culture that upholds a standard of excellence and tradition as well as a culture that celebrates the batty of living a healthy and active lifestyle.”

The trip was the first of its kind through the International Site Observation course taught by Dr. Ed Garrett, Assistant Professor of Sports Administration.

“It is because of Belhaven’s support for this trip that these student’s now have a greater understanding of a Christian Worldview because of their time in London,” said Garrett.

The course is expected to run every other year, allowing every sports administration student the opportunity to take the International Site Observation course before they graduate.

Belhaven’s Partnership with Jackson Zoo Continues



Earlier this semester, Belhaven University announced a year-long partnership with the Jackson Zoo that would allow 300 students in the science program to collect and analyze data vital to the zoo’s conservation efforts and future improvements.

“It’s a real-life science project,” said Belhaven Chemistry student Marjory Clement. “We have the opportunity to go out in the real world, perform real scientific analysis and develop solutions for a real problem.”

As of now, Belhaven students have completed a third of the initial project. Over 100 students from four classes across the Division of Natural Sciences have been deployed to collect data at the zoo. This data includes GPS mapping coordinates, watershed information, thermal temperature data, invasive species and the beginning of a comprehensive water quality assessment which will ramp up in the spring semester.

Students from Chemistry, Biology, Physics, Computer Science and Mathematics are all working on the project. Faculty members are assisting professionals in forming a preliminary report to the Jackson Zoo and its board of trustees in early December.

The partnership has greatly benefited the Jackson Zoo and Belhaven. Almost $30,000 in support funding and equipment has been procured, but the greatest impact has been on the students involved.

“This project has really opened my eyes to the other applications that science has in the community around us,” said Biology student Kaelin Hanson. “I’m extremely motivated to help push this project forward and seeing how this research helps the zoo.”

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.

Family Weekend Set for This Friday-Sunday at Belhaven!

Belhaven University is excited to be hosting its annual Family Weekend this weekend on campus. Parents and siblings are encouraged to register online for a weekend filled with faith, food and fun.

Family Weekend coincides with Belhaven’s Fall Discover Day, which takes place on Friday, September 25. Siblings and family members interested in attending Belhaven can get a first hand look at college life. Those interested in attending Discover Day should contact the Admission office or register for Discovery Day separately.

The campus will be in full swing on Friday, with lunch available in the Dining Commons. The Wynn Kenyon Think Center will host an open house from 1:00-5 :00pm, including a faculty panel – “Keys to Academic Success,” beginning at 3:30 pm.

At 5:30, families are invited to a catfish dinner in the Dining Commons, and at 8:00 pm, students and families are invited to Rec the Night! Belhaven Activities and Intramurals hosts a popular event that includes laser tag, dodge ball, and more in the Lower Practice Field.

Siblings of the same gender are invited to stay overnight in residence halls with their brother or sister. We know that they have missed each other!

Dr. Roger Parrott, President of the University will host a campus update in the Student Center beginning at 10:00 am on Saturday. At 11:30, head on over to Newell Field for tailgating prior to the Blazers’ 1:00 game with Alabama’s Huntington University. There will be a drawing for a family and their student to serve as honorary captains at the game.

Families are encouraged to spend Saturday evening with their students, as well as attend Sunday morning worship services on their own. We look forward to seeing everyone on campus for this great weekend event!

Belhaven Launches New Smartphone App

screen322x572Belhaven University has released an app for smartphones that makes getting information about campus, events, athletics and more even more convenient for those using Apple or Android devices.

The app, which is available for free download on both the Apple iTunes and Google Play stores, features up to date information in a familiar format to smartphone users. Users can receive up to date news from campus or updates on Blazer athletics from the app’s front page. A campus directory allows users to contact campus offices conveniently.

Another benefit of the app will welcome new students to campus next week. The complete Welcome Week guide – with information about peer leaders, RAs and student organizations, as well as the complete Welcome Week schedule – is being presented for the first time digitally.

Users can also follow official Belhaven social media accounts and even upload pictures to the app. Users who submit photos through the “Share Photos” option may see their picture on Belhaven social media channels.

The launch of the Belhaven app comes on the heels of a complete redesign of the Belhaven website,  which features connectivity between information that is orderly, extensive, and presented for ease of use and clarity.

Belhaven Athletics Set To Begin New Chapter in NCAA’s Division III

The Belhaven Blazers’ athletic teams have a long history of excellence. National championships, conference titles, numerous national tournament appearances – all have been a common occurrence for the Green and Gold as a member of the NAIA. Beginning with the 2015-16 athletics year, Belhaven will be competing in a new arena- the NCAA.

The Blazers will be members of the American Southwest Conference – made up of small colleges in Mississippi, Arkansas, Louisiana and Texas.

“I’m thrilled we have reached the start of American Southwest Conference membership. We could not have a better new home than the ASC,” said Belhaven President Dr. Roger Parrott. “The character of the schools and the commitment to student-athletes blends seamlessly with Belhaven’s priorities.

The ASC is part of NCAA’s Division III – the largest division in the NCAA. Prestigious institutions such as the University of Chicago, Johns Hopkins and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology call Division III home.

The benefits of a new athletic affiliation will be felt immediately. For example, Hal Mumme’s football squad recently released its 2015 schedule. Six of the Blazers’ first seven games will take place either at home or in the Jackson metro area. Belhaven will open its season on a Thursday night, September 3, renewing a rivalry with Millsaps.

The following week, the Blazers will host one of the biggest games in school history, as three-time defending Division III national champion Wisconsin-Whitewater comes to Newell Field. After defeating Mississippi College 32-14 in last season’s home opener, Belhaven will face the Choctaws in Clinton.

Other fall sports – men’s and women’s soccer and volleyball, also announced their schedules. The men’s soccer team will open with William Carey on September 1, while the Lady Blazers will take on Mississippi College on September 3. Volleyball will open its Division III era in Memphis, taking on Rhodes College on September 1.

As the athletic department makes a full transition to NCAA Division III, the Blazers will also become members of the National Christian College Athletic Association (NCCAA). The NCCAA is an association of Christ-centered collegiate institutions whose mission is to use athletic competition as an integral component of education. The NCCAA will provide its student-athletes postseason competition opportunities as it transitions to full membership status with the NCAA.

It’s always a great time to be a Blazer, and this exciting transition will benefit all of our student-athletes in our 17 intercollegiate sports.


Commencement Activities Scheduled for Graduating Seniors

Graduating seniors, the time is here.

Belhaven University will host its commencement exercises on Saturday, May 9 at Thalia Mara Hall. The traditional ceremony will begin at 9:30 am. Adult, graduate and online students will be honored in a 2:30 pm ceremony. Ceremonies are ticketed events, and are not open to the general public.

Mrs. Robbie Hughes will be the featured commencement speaker. Hughes has been a delegate to the Republican National Convention and has been recognized as a Philanthropist of the Year by the Mississippi Chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals. Her $4 million gift to the university helped to build the new University Village, which is set to open in the fall.

The Alumni Reception is scheduled for 5:30 pm on Friday in the Student Center lobby. The event is open to those who have returned their RSVPs. Graduates will also be recognized with a baccalaureate service on Friday night. The event will begin at 7:30 pm and take place at Redeemer Presbyterian Church in Jackson.


Annual Singing Christmas Tree Scheduled for Weekend

In 1933, a group of faculty and students, led by music professor Mignonne Caldwell, had the idea to construct a wooden frame for the campus choir to stand on while performing traditional Christmas carols. Some 82 years later, that moment shines bright as America’s Oldest Singing Christmas Tree, a Belhaven University tradition.

This year’s performance, open to the public, takes place on December 5 and 6 at 7:30 p.m in the Athletic Bowl at the center of campus. This wonderful community event has been highlighted by the likes of Southern Living Magazine, and named among the top 20 events in the Southeast by the Southeast Tourism Society.

Ms. Bettye Quinn, Associate Professor of Education and Director of Elementary Education, has seen the event 77 of the 81 times it has taken place.

“I remember when I was three years old in 1937 and a family friend brought me to see the Belhaven Singing Christmas Tree for the first time,” recalled Ms. Quinn. “At the time, the tree was a group of 40 girls on a platform between the columns. They had on white robes and held bright lights that reflected into the lagoon. It was a glorious sight for a little child to see!”

Since then, the Singing Christmas Tree has taken on a few technological advances. A state of the art sound system is used and the candles remembered by Ms. Quinn have been replaced by LED lights. The 35-foot tall tree holds up to 100 men and women singers, and the LED lights change colors in various patterns and sequences according to the character of each Christmas carol.