Belhaven Students Joined Me at the State Capitol

photo[4]Today, five great students (wearing Belhaven Gold shirts) join me at the State Capitol, with students and presidents of the other private universities in Mississippi, to celebrate Independent Higher Education Week in Mississippi.

The delegation was address by Speaker of the House, Phillip Gunn, who’s son, Andrew is a senior at Belhaven.

Joining him were Colleges and Universities Committee Chairs of the Senate and the House, John A. Polk, and Nolan Mettetal.  Senator Polk’s son-in-law is currently completing his Master Degree through our Belhaven Online campus.

Seven school presidents joined by five students from each campus to form a smart, and bright background for the press conference.

Members of the Mississippi Association of Independent Colleges include:

Belhaven University

Blue Mountain College

Millsaps College

Mississippi College

Rust College

Tougaloo College

William Carey University

Spring Chapel Schedule Announced

This spring, I’m looking forward to continuing our study of the life of Kind David.

This past fall we took a detailed look at the lessons to be learned from the story of David and Goliath. And now,  we jump into a wide range of exciting and troubling challenges throughout the rest of the life this great leader.

In the six message I’ll be preaching, I trust we can learn much from David’s life through these topics:

  1. Success!
  2. When God Says NO.
  3. Crossroads:  Compromise or Integrity
  4. The Hardest Part is Forgiving Yourself
  5. Breaking Dysfunctional Family Ties
  6. How Would God Describe You?

Along with with this study of David from the Old Testament, we’ll have two chapels with  with Dr. John Perkins.  They don’t get any more influential and insightful than Dr. John, and I’m thrilled our student can hear twice from this giant of the Church.

Other important services are planned throughout the spring. Below is the full schedule.

** Because chapel is now offered twice each Tuesday morning, we have seating space for friends of Belhaven to attend if you’d like to come.  Chapel runs for 50 minutes on Tuesday mornings.  The identical services begin at 9:35 and 11:00 am.

January 14 Success!
Learning from the Life of King David
Dr. Roger Parrott
January 21 When God Says NO
Learning from the Life of King David
Dr. Roger Parrott
January 28 Crossroads: Compromise or Integrity
Learning from the Life of King David
Dr. Roger Parrott
February 4 The Hardest Part is Forgiving Yourself
Learning from the Life of King David
Dr. Roger Parrott
February 11 Dr. John Perkins
John M. Perkins Foundation for Reconciliation and Development
February 18 Dr. John Perkins
John M. Perkins Foundation for Reconciliation and Development
February 25 Ms. Lisa Espineli Chinn
Intervarsity National Director International Student Ministry Program
March 4 Student Mission Conference
Mr. Josep Debeljuh
Global Disciples, Croatia
March 11 Spring Break
March 18 Breaking Dysfunctional Family Ties
Learning from the Life of King David
Dr. Roger Parrott
March 25 How Would God Describe You?
Learning from the Life of King David
Dr. Roger Parrott
April 1 God At Work – At Work
A panel discussion led by Dr. Parrott asking hard questions to Christians living out their faith in a variety of professions
April 8 Looking Back and Looking Ahead
A panel discussion led by Dr. Parrott asking graduating seniors what they have learned and how God is leading them to prepare for life after Belhaven
April 15 Honors Convocation
Only the 11 am chapel will be held this day so all students and faculty can join in celebrating the accomplishments of the year. Classes scheduled for 10:50 on this Tuesday are canceled.

Top Online University National Ranking – Again!

best-online-programs-bachelorsFor the second consecutive year, US News and World Report has ranked Belhaven University among the top online academic programs.

We were ranked 74th for our bachelor degree program among all national colleges and universities both public and private.

Belhaven is tied with the University of Nebraska and is within the top 100 spots with prestigious institutions like the University of Florida, Arizona State University, the University of Missouri, and St. John’s University.

We have a top flight online staff, and having studied what they do in detail, I know we are #1 in customer service.  Nobody is more committed to making it work for students.  While the online education world is still finding its way, and we are far from the level where we can be, we’re way ahead of the pack and I’m proud of all we’re doing.

Here is the full story in the Clarion Ledger

We offer 13 online degree programs including associate, bachelors, and Master degrees in  business, education, health administration, sports administration, public administration, and leadership.

Yay Daddy!

This past week we held commencement ceremonies for our campuses in Jackson, Chattanooga, Atlanta, and Orlando.  This time of year it is primarily graduate and adult students completing their degrees.

The graduation ceremonies for our campuses in Houston and Memphis are held during the spring.

If you want to know why Belhaven University is so committed to adult and graduate students read this blog post below.

It was written by Ed Pickel, the director of admissions for Belhaven University’s Chattanooga campus.  I deeply respect Ed’s effectiveness in recruiting, but more importantly, I’m in awe of his passion for helping adult and graduate students change their lives.

Ed gets it!

Here is his wonderfully written account of commencement in Chattanooga on Friday night last week:

Last Friday evening, our Chattanooga-Dalton campus held its 2013 graduation ceremony. I had the privilege of sitting with our faculty – second row from the front. From that vantage point, I could see everything that was happening on the platform.

However, it wasn’t so much what was happening on the platform that captured my attention; it was what I was hearing behind me…babies crying, a graduate sitting directly behind me “amening” the commencement speaker; occasional laughter; someone softly echoing the benediction as the service drew to a close – “the Lord bless you and keep you, the Lord make his face shine upon you and be gracious to you, the Lord lift his countenance upon you and give you peace.”

So much energy, so much excitement! It was a wonderful moment.

The most thought provoking voice, however, didn’t originate from a graduate or a baby, but was from what seemed to be a young child – maybe five or six years old. As one of our graduates walked across the platform to receive his diploma, I heard a forceful “Yay Daddy!” A subdued laughter slowly began to make its way across our warm, cozy, venue.

An adult college graduate who had worked hard for months balancing work, family, and school heard the words “Yay Daddy” from his child. In the world of adult education, no words could be more profound. Here’s why…

  •  The words “Yay Daddy” coming from an adult student’s child confirm that the hard work and sacrifice that goes into earning a college degree has been worth it. Someone who loves and looks up to the graduate has uttered the ultimate confirmation.
  • The words “Yay Daddy” indicate that the child recognizes graduation as a major accomplishment in his parent’s life. He sees that his dad’s hard work is recognized and makes the connection between diligence, perseverance, and reward. These are vital connections for the child’s future success in school and in the workplace.
  • Finally, the words “Yay Daddy” mean that the child, more than likely, will be a college graduate himself. Research indicates that children of college graduates are more likely to be college graduates themselves. Our kids are watching. They see Mom or Dad writing a paper, reading a book, or preparing a presentation. Children see the value in education only to the extent that their parents model its value.

As the bagpiper led us out of the auditorium at the end of the service, I imagined the “Yay Daddy” child being held snuggly by his mother – maybe even asleep by now. What a fortunate little guy to have such a daddy.

Probably the most gratifying aspect of working in adult education is knowing that we work year round to create “Yay Daddy” moments at graduation. We look forward to next December! But this morning, we still find ourselves reliving Friday evening. To all of the class of 2013, the staff and faculty of Belhaven University offer a heartfelt “Yay Daddy” (and “Yay Mommy” as well).

Wynn Kenyon Think Center Featured in National Magazine

ADVANCE, the national magazine of the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities featured the Wynn Kenyon Think Center in the issue just released.

I love this quote in the story from one of our students:

Rachel , a junior majoring in psychology, says she has been hooked on the Think Center since she took a tour shortly after it opened last year. She recalls thinking the center was awesome. Kniseley credits the Think Center with getting her study habits on track, leading to markedly different outcomes between her freshman and sophomore years. “My freshman year I’d be like, ‘Oh, let me call Mom, because she’s the only one who can help me with this,’” she says.

When the Think Center opened the following year, Kniseley discovered a place where she could study with some privacy when necessary but also connect with tutors. This provided Kniseley with a much needed sense of accountability, because each she time she returned she would share her scores with tutors.

“They encourage you and they motivate you to continue with your work,” Kniseley says, noting that the laid-back and collaborative nature of the facility allows students to tackle homework assignments from all angles, which is especially helpful when working on a group project or presentation.  “It really does help you think out loud, especially if you like to process things with other people,” she says.

Below is the full story, or you can read the PDF version or view the article on the CCCU web site.

 – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

LIKE MANY CCCU CAMPUSES, Belhaven University, in Jackson, Miss., offers a freshman seminar course designed to equip incoming students with essential skills for college life, such as time management, effective study techniques, and maximizing on-campus resources.

But Erin Price, Belhaven’s assistant vice president for student success, has also launched a more innovative initiative to help Belhaven students. In addition to giving them the tools to succeed, she and her colleagues strive to offer students the ideal space in which to use them.

Price started at Belhaven in the admissions department and eventually became an adjunct instructor before leaving the school in 2008 to work at The University of Southern Mississippi. While at USM, she completed her doctorate in higher education leadership from Union University in Jackson, Tenn.

For two years she worked as a student development specialist at USM’s Student Think Center, which included working with a team on a research grant studying how space affects learning. They were implementing a design-thinking model into instructional design, learning space, and student development.

The concept was new for Price at the time. In fact, she says she had a difficult time at first visualizing what was being discussed. Because her colleagues had visited the d.school, the Institute of Design at Stanford, which has since published a 2012 book on manipulating space to ignite creativity, they had a better picture of the type of space being discussed. At the time of the USM team’s grant proposal, their research was cutting edge, though Price notes there is evidence that more institutions are now embracing the importance of active learning spaces.

When Belhaven hired Price back as part of its student development team, she was asked if she had any thoughts about using space to augment student success. “l said, ‘Absolutely l’ve got some thoughts about it,’” Price recalls.

The result was the Wynn Kenyon Think Center, a designated study and teaching facility located inside the school’s Hood Library. The center opened in September 2012.

What makes the Think Center unique, according to Price, is its adaptability: nearly every piece of furniture in the center rotates, slides, or modifies to accommodate group sessions, backpacks, and laptops. Likewise, the technology in the center is wired for networking: students using the center’s computers can share screens between units to collaborate with classmates, or they can connect laptops to one of several TV monitors for multiple viewers. Additionally, writing surfaces are virtually everywhere, from moveable Whiteboards to “paper tables” that allow students to map out their thought processes.

Unlike the traditional library setting, students appreciate the Think Center because each student has the option to create his or her ideal setting, Price says. The mobility of the center’s equipment allows for varied learning preferences—from processing with others to writing material out to concentrating individually—to be accommodated. “We encourage them to do what they need to with the space,” says Price. And in contrast to a traditional computer lab, she explains, the Think Center is colorful, inviting, and flexible.

While the environment serves primarily as a study space, the abundant technology also lends itself to teaching. Price says professors are increasingly taking advantage of the Think Center for class sessions requiring intensive or collaborative use of technology that traditional classrooms do not accommodate.

While the Think Center provides students with freedom, it is also designed to offer ample support. Price, along with the rest of the student development staff, has her office inside the center. No one is ever more than a knock away from students in need, whether they have questions about using the computers or are seeking in-depth conversations about choosing majors and careers. Peer academic tutors are also stationed in the Think Center, so if a student or group hits a roadblock while studying, they can quickly find assistance.

Price says it is too early to determine the Think Center’s impact on student outcomes, but she’s excited for the potential research it may yield. “This kind of space in higher education is kind of new, so there’s a good deal to be learned about it,” she says. According to Price, Belhaven is only the second school in Mississippi exploring space and student outcomes.

In the short term, the metric that Price says she is paying the most attention to is foot traffic. Part of the goal with the high-tech, customizable feel of the Think Center, Price explains, is to pique the curiosity of passing students. “We feel like we’ve done that,” Price says. “ln my mind it’s just been a huge success.”

Price’s assessment is backed by many students, including Rachel Kniseley. Kniseley, a junior majoring in psychology, says she has been hooked on the Think Center since she took a tour shortly after it opened last year. She recalls thinking the center was awesome.

Kniseley credits the Think Center with getting her study habits on track, leading to markedly different outcomes between her freshman and sophomore years. “My freshman year I’d be like, ‘Oh, let me call Mom, because she’s the only one who can help me with this,”’ she says.

When the Think Center opened the following year, Kniseley discovered a place where she could study with some privacy when necessary but also connect with tutors. This provided Kniseley with a much-needed sense of accountability, because each she time she returned she would share her scores with tutors.

“They encourage you and they motivate you to continue with your work,” Kniseley says, noting that the laid-back and collaborative nature of the facility allows students to tackle homework assignments from all angles, which is especially helpful when working on a group project or presentation. “It really does help you think out loud, especially if you like to process things with other people,” she says.

In fact, Kniseley was so impressed by the center she took a student employment position there working as a desk assistant. For many entering the Think Center for the first time, Kniseley is the first face they see—and that is just fine with her.

“I love the Think Center,” she says. “I want every student at Belhaven to use the Think Center.”

RESPONDING TO OBSERVED NEEDS

While the Think Center at Belhaven reflects a new concept in higher education student success programs, the CCCU’s other campuses also work hard to provide just what students need to be successful, seeking to keep in step with changes in student needs over time.

For example, taking the lead to address an area of student need is exactly what Houghton College in Houghton, N.Y., had in mind when in 1989 it launched the Academic Support Center, now called the Center for Academic Success and Advising. The center was a response to a graduate intern’s observation of the need for a staff person dedicated to helping students with physical and learning disabilities. Since then, CASA has continued to evolve as the needs of students have warranted.

In the 1990s it began assisting students for whom English was a second language and eventually offered tutoring to the entire campus for integrative studies (general education) courses and to any student on academic guidance or probation or earning a D or an F.

In 2004 tutoring was offered regardless of grade standing, and in 2013 an Intensive Academic English Program was developed to assist students who are non-native English speakers. IAEP aims to improve reading and writing abilities to the level expected at Houghton. Participating students take classes in reading, writing, speaking, and listening instruction as well as biblical literature. A College Study Methods course is also available to all Houghton students through CASA.

“We desire that every Houghton student become academically successful and achieve their goals,” says Mark Hunter, CASA’s director. “Houghton College has high academic standards, and some students try to use their high school study methods in their Houghton classes and struggle with the academic demands.”

In one capacity or another, during 2012-13, CASA supported the needs of nearly a quarter of Houghton’s student population—22 percent—through tutoring, counseling, guidance, or psychoeducational testing.

In addition to Hunter and two other full-time staff, CASA employs a half-time digital text coordinator, who prepares textbooks in a digital format for learning and physically disabled students. The initiative is part of CASA’ s larger goal to improve technology for visually impaired students.

“I believe the greatest difference between what we do at CASA as opposed to a similar program on a secular campus is an emphasis on relying on God’s grace to guide and assist students through college,” Hunter says. “Many of our conversations with students address how students are coping spiritually with the stress of college, and most meetings with students end in prayer for the student.”

ONE STUDENT AT A TIME

Service is at the heart of Dordt College’s Academic Skills Center, which is called ASK. Originally called The Writing Center, the center at the Sioux Center, Iowa, college opened during the 1979-80 academic year and was promoted as a service available for all students, not only those needing remediation. Services expanded in 1982 to address the growing realization that students were increasingly underprepared in other areas, such as reading, math, and study skills, as they transitioned from high school. Peer tutoring has been part of ASK ever since.

“My tutors choose to work in this capacity for a variety of reasons,” says Pam De Jong, director and department chair of ASK. “Most of them have a strong desire to serve. They regard their jobs as a way of serving their fellow students and building a stronger learning community.”

De Jong says there have been hundreds of peer tutors throughout ASK’s history. She says they are an important reason why the center has successfully helped ASK realize its vision to enable students to maximize learning while equipping them with the necessary skills to function both within an academic community and as lifelong, independent learners.

In each of the past few years alone, more than 600 students—approximately 40 percent of Dordt’s student body—have made more than 6,000 tutoring visits. Generally, half of the students accessing tutoring are freshmen, another quarter sophomores, and the remaining quarter juniors, seniors, or special enrollment students.

But De Jong says the impact is best seen on the individual level, beyond the numbers. She remembers one undecided student who eventually settled on majoring in elementary education. However, she had difficulty adjusting to the demands of college courses and professors. At the end of her first semester, she was still on academic probation but was allowed to continue under certain requirements. The student eventually improved but needed a recommendation to be considered for acceptance into the teacher education program.

“I provided that needed recommendation because l saw in her the makings of a wonderfully creative and caring teacher,” De Jong says. “Thankfully, she persevered. By the time she graduated, she had a contract to teach, and I don’t know who was most proud at commencement, the soon-to-be teacher, her parents, or me.”

___________

Luke Reiter, a graduate of Bethel University (MN) and an alumnus of the CCCU’s BestSemester Washington Journalism Center, is an editor at a community newspaper covering the suburbs of St. Paul, Minn.

___________

Chris Turner is founder of D. Chris Turner Communications. a public relations firm specializing in social media strategies, writing, and crisis communications. A former overseas correspondent with the international Mission Board, Chris has lived in England and Panama and covered stories in 28 countries.

Great Season for the Arts at BU

As we near the end of the semester our schedule is packed with a variety of performances from the work students have been developing this year.

Mark your calendars to attend these high quality performances THIS WEEK.  Even more after that.  The full schedule you can find HERE

Today – Final performances of Johanne d’Arc
2pm and 7:30 pm Flex Theatre

Tuesday – November 5, 2013
Orchestras, Strings and Choir Concert
7:30 pm Concert Hall

Friday and Saturday and following weekend  – November 8, 9, 14, 15, 16, 2013
Fall Dance Concert
evening performances 7:30 Bitsy Irby

Saturday – November 9, 2013
Belhaven Cabaret Night
7:30 Flex Theatre

Premiere Tonight: Johanne d’Arc

Joe Frost written and directed original play Johanne d’Arc should not be missed.

It opens tonight and run though next week, but don’t wait until the end of the run or you might miss it.  And because it is  improv driven theatre, you may want to see this dynamic show more than once.

This week and next week:  Thursday 7:30,  Friday 7:30, Saturday 2:00

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

From the Jackson Free Press

Joan of Arc goes on stage fueled by improv for Belhaven University’s production of “Johanne d’Arc.”

The university’s theater director and department chairman, Joe Frost, decided to let the creative process of improvisation determine and guide the script for “Johanne d’Arc.” During improvisational rehearsals, the students tailored their roles to fit the characters.

“That’s when I write the script, after the creative process ensues,” Frost says. The cast worked on improvisation together for about a month before Frost wrote a script based on the scenes they workshopped. Then, they continued to tweak the script through rehearsals.

For the production, an all-female cast researched Joan of Arc historical accounts together. Using their knowledge and improv skills, they built the characters, defined their scenes and applied dialogue based on their interpretation of their characters to construct the play. Joan of Arc’s story as a peasant girl God called to lead the fight against the English for the reestablishment of the French throne expands based on how far the actors wish to hone in on the adventures of the heroine.

I want to produce a new point of view and interpretation, painting another picture of what audiences already know about the bold escapades of the historical person,” Frost says. “Possibilities exist through improvisations that don’t come out in a pre-scripted play. (Students are) given the opportunity to personalize their feelings because their guard is let down.” Many cast members are returning students who already have acting experience.

“But there were so many new students too that gives us fresh perspective, evoking even more invention,” he says.

Students went through rehearsal exercises to prepare for the experiment in improv. The exercises helped them to become more accepting and comfortable with fellow actors.

This will be an “in the round” production that allows for flexible seating which brings the audience in close contact with the actors as they perform.

Laina Faul will portray Johanne. All other roles will interchange. Belhaven faculty members Kris Dietrich and Nadine Grant are designing the final set and costumes, respectively.

Homeschooling Trends

We are pleased that large numbers of homeschooling families have chosen Belhaven University. We believe in homeschooling, and we understand the learning patterns of these students because so many of our only faculty and staff homeschooled their own children.

Homeschooling families will interested in this graphic sent to me today by Greg Hawkins, our Dean of Students – he is a Belhaven graduate and was homeschooled.  Greg is currently working on his Ph.D. in Higher Education Administration.