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).

Clarion Ledger Front Page Story – Moving Into Fitzhugh Hall

We woke up this morning to the Clarion Ledger front page, top story spread across the state, telling of our moving into Fitzhugh Hall.

Below is the story…..and I’ve also added two video stories they posted on their web site about this and one about a science student.

Belhaven University’s Fitzhugh Hall opens as new science, math building

Even though there’s still a couple of weeks before fall semester, a handful of Belhaven University students already were back on campus Tuesday, helping professors prepare new science labs for classes.

The labs are part of a recently finished project on campus, a yearlong $6 million project where the 100-plus-year-old Fitzhugh Hall was partially renovated and expanded following water damage to parts of the building and foundation, said spokesman David Sprayberry.

Sophomore Bethany Savoy of Brandon pitched in Tuesday morning, unpacking boxes in some of the biology labs. “All my classes will be in this building,” said the biology major.

Assisting Savoy was Bianca Key, of Jackson, and Jake Anderson of Phoenix.

“We’re just doing our part,” Savoy noted.

And while the help from students was appreciated, it was the professors in the building that were giddy.

The expansion to Fitzhugh not only meant updated facilities and more space, but it was also a joint effort of different science disciplines to work together, ushering the school’s program into a more modern science, said Reid Bishop, a chemistry professor and chair of the division of science and mathematics.

“One of the main things is the interdisciplinary space,” said Phylip Carlson, a chemistry and physics professor. “Traditional chemistry, biology and physics are in their own separate locations, but modern science doesn’t really work that way.”

The shared space means students can be better prepared for the workforce as well, said Bishop. “If you’re a chemist, there’s a pretty good chance you’ll be employed by a biomedical company,” he said as an example.

The labs include computers with microscopes, linked with Wi-Fi for sharing results and findings with the rest of the class. Each new room offers more space, and the building is set up to use ultrapure water — a necessity for many experiments, Bishop pointed out.

“I’m most proud of the behind the scenes kind of stuff,” said Bishop of the technology and equipment installed in Fitzhugh.

With two weeks until students fill up the new site, Bishop and other science professors are itching for the classes to start back up.

“We focus on problems, real-life problems,” Bishop said. “Here we look at how do we use the different science disciplines to attack those problems.”


Video about the move into Fitzhugh

Video about freshman science student Jeremiah Reese

Bettye Quinn Remembers Newt Wilson

Miss Betty Quinn sent me a touching memory she had of Newt Wilson,

Proabably, Newt and Betty worked together longer than any other faculty or staff member did with Newt.

I told Bettye, today:

“If you’re able, you should go to the funeral, I know it would mean so much to Becky. Newt loved you so much. I remember when he first told me about Belhaven, you were the only faculty member he told me about. I thought they were all just like you!”

He’s been a great friend, and I’m so glad you can go to the service.  We will miss you at commencement but you’re needed there.

I asked Bettye if I could share some of her notes with you, and most of it is included below.

I’ll remind you again that the service for Newt will be at Hattiesburg First Presbyterian Church on Saturday at 11:30 am. Becky will be having a family only internment tomorrow.

Becky needs our prayers.

Here is Betty’s note:

Dr. Parrott,

I have not missed a graduation in 47 years….as you know. This is a dilemma for me, But I feel that I should go to Newt’s funeral. He and Becky have been my friends for so many years.

When the soccer team won the NAIA championship last fall, I sent him one of the shirts. He wrote me the most wonderful letter back. I made cheese straws for him every year and sent them or he came for them. We knew him on so many levels…fellow alum, co worker when he taught Bible, Dean of Students, Vice-president, President and then as Board Member. He was always the same sweet caring person.

I helped Becky cook and entertain many, many times. She was the ultimate hostess. His birthday was September 22 — the same as the Hobbit… so many times we had a Hobbit party… everyone brought a gift but not for him… the gifts were exchanged… that was the Hobbit way. He loved that everyone got a funny gift instead of him.

Newt really loved Belhaven and all its activities.  As a student he sang in the choir. He loved that Belhaven was into all sports. And of course, the Bible and Christian Education Department was his forte. He really had a wonderful life accomplishing all he wished.
I would have called but I can’t talk without crying.

Love and prayers,
Bettye Quinn

Today’s Adult and Graduate Commencement

Today we held our fall term commencement for adult and graduate students.  Thalia Mara Hall was filled.

This is the 129th year Belhaven students have come together for commencement.

Our speaker this morning was Dr. Dolphus Weary, and he lifted the crowd with a wonderfully inspirational message.













Here is my introduction of Dolphus from this morning:

Christian leadership demands the ability to envision a God called future that most cannot see.

Such leadership requires steadfast determination, unshakable courage, gracious service, most importantly, the relentless call to gather a momentum of people who share the goal – so that eventually the leader’s voice does not stand out, but blends with the harmony of God’s people working together.

Dr. Dolphus Weary is that type of leader.

In my years of working with, cheering for, and admiring Dolphus, I have seen a leader who not only believes that genuine biblical reconciliation is possible, but created a wave of momentum of people who also have caught that vision and are multiplying it all across our state and around the nation.

His burden is never light taking on the tough challenge of creating a Godly understanding of racial reconciliation.  But, like Belhaven University, he is committed to the task because God calls us to it, not because it is easy.

Building racial harmony on our campus, across our state, in a church, or in a community is a continuous, conscious, every-day, every-activity, every-person, every-decision process that comes from our commitment to biblical unity.  And every day Dr. Dolphus Weary is teaching, preaching, and living out how to do just that.

He is a man with a marvelous educational background that capstoned with a Doctorate of Ministry from Reformed Theological Seminary.

After completing a remarkable run as Director of Mission Mississippi he took on the task of building the REAL Christian Foundation which is committed to Rural Education and Leadership connecting economic and technical assistance with rural ministries.

And for 20 years Dolphus lead Mendenhall Ministries, founded by our friend, Dr. John Perkins.

Dolphus serves on some of the most significant national boards in the evangelical world, including World Vision, InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability, and most importantly Belhaven University.

In 2005 he was awarded an honorary doctorate by Belhaven University.

Join me in welcoming as our commencement speaker,

  • a leader who takes on the seemly impossible because he is convinced that God’s power transforms,
  • a nationally sought after speaker who inspires people to genuine reconciliation,
  • and a friend, who is a brother in Christ, Dr. Dolphus Weary.


Alum Victoria Jelstrom Swilley’s Film Project

If there is one issue that can bring my blood to a boiling point it is the horrible tragedy of student bullying throughout all levels of the educational system of America.

What students face today is NOT the “harmless boys-will-be-boys” play of years gone past. It is ruining lives, crushing self-esteem, and too often ending in suicide.

We don’t tolerate it at all on on Belhaven’s campus.  Nor do we tolerate ANY level of hazing, initiations, etc.  I tell our coaching staff every year, the single fastest way to get fired is to tolerate any level of hazing – you’ll be gone if you do.

(Told you it get’s my blood pressure up in a hurry.)

So….here is the real purpose of this blog post.  Read this message below from one of our most recent alums. And if God calls you to join with me in making a small gift to help her project, I think it will be an important investment.

Hello Dr. Parrott (and Alumni Office),

I’m a 2010 graduate of Belhaven, the first person to graduate from the Musical Theater track, actually. I’ve moved to Florida and begun being involved in the film industry, first as an actor, and now as a filmmaker. Right now my big project is a short film called “The Lesson”, a message film about bullying. We are trying to stay as far afield as possible from the stereotypical “jocks beating up the nerds” angle taken by most media, and instead portray bullying the way it really is, showing the potential consequences, and encouraging people to step in when they observe someone being victimized.

Here is a short video of me explaining about the film and why it’s important to me. Please take a moment to watch it; I feel it describes why we are doing this better than text alone can.

The best way to get a short film noticed and watched is to submit to film festivals, which is what we are aiming to do when production finishes. To do well in festivals, we need enough money to produce it in the most excellent way possible. We are fundraising right now via Kickstarter at the link HERE If you would like to share either link on any media (blogs, alumni blasts, whatever), I’d really appreciate it.

I do want to let you know that because of the nature of bullying (and because we are wanting to present it in a truthful, non-stereotypical way), the film isn’t going to be an easy one to watch. The script is clean (no sex or profanity), but there is some self-harm, implied violence from a parent, eating disorders, smoking, gay slurs (no openly gay characters), and racial issues are addressed as well.  At one point in the script the audience will assume that some teens commit suicide, although once the ending is reached it becomes obvious that someone has intervened, and it goes out on a positive, uplifting note. We are trying as much as possible to be truthful and tasteful in handling these issues, without being gratuitous. My aim is that God be glorified, though our company is not officially faith-based or religiously affiliated.

Our goal is to encourage people to step in, “Stand Alone” if need be, on behalf of victims; far too often people just turn a blind eye to bullying, or even blame the victims. Personally, through this film, I am trying to show that everyone is worthy of respect and love, because Jesus loved everyone, regardless of their sin or anything that made them different from the rest of society.

I hope you will feel led to help me bring awareness of this important issue more to the forefront of our societal consciousness and stop the victimization of children because they are different or don’t “fit the mold”.

God bless, and thank you for reading.

Victoria Jelstrom Swilley
Director, StandAlone Pictures



Enrollment options for January

You can come to the JACKSON CAMPUS for traditional age students. . .


You can attend class at our ADULT AND GRADUATE campuses in Orlando, Houston, Memphis, Chattanooga, Atlanta (and Jackson) . . .


Or you can enroll from where ever you are through BELHAVEN ONLINE for one of these degree programs:

  • Associate of Arts
  • Associate of Arts in Business
  • Bachelor of Science in Management
  • Bachelor of Business Administration
  • Bachelor of Health Administration
  • Master of Business Administration
  • Master of Education
  • Master of Education in Reading Literacy
  • Master of Health Administration
  • Master of Public Administration
  • Master of Science in Leadership
  • Master of Sports Administration
  • Mississippi Teacher Certification
  • Online High Scholars programs for high school students
  • Online High Scholars Dual Credit for high school students


Join Belhaven’s 3,500 students and get started toward your degree in January.





Henry V . . . “Hollywood Insider” News and FREE TICKETS FOR LAST PERFORMANCE

If you’ve not yet seen Henry V, you’ve missed a great opportunity.  This cast of 8 each plays five or six different characters, and it’s a fast paced, intense, and funny show.

But here is the “Hollywood Insider News” about the cast no one knew until tonight:   all eight members of the cast were home schooled.

Maybe that is why their chemistry together is so strong, but it’s more so the work of the Director, Marianne Savell, who has done a magnificent job with her first BU production.

The LAST performance of Henry V is Saturday afternoon at 2:00


Go to the box office outside the Black Box Theatre in our Center for the Arts and  TELL THEM YOU READ IT ON MY BLOG THAT YOU MAY  HAVE FREE TICKETS FOR YOU, YOUR FAMILY, AND FRIENDS.

For Belhaven University Parents – “From an empty nest”

All around the world, the challenges and emotions of sending our children off to college are much the same.

This insightful blog post came to me this week from a friend in London, J. John.  I think it caught the essence of this changing relationship with children just right.

From an empty nest

I don’t often bring my family into what I write: I think they deserve some privacy. However, my wife Killy and I have recently undergone such a drastic change in our lives that I feel the need to write something! Our youngest son has gone to university and for the first time in nearly a quarter of a century, we are quite literally home alone.

There are both good and not-so-good things about this. Suddenly the house is free from suspicious piles of washing and there is no loud music. The shower is never occupied for half an hour, the only magazines or CDs we are in danger of tripping over are our own and our food bills are halved. We can watch what we want on television and the house is quieter: the phrase ‘low-profile’ can never be applied to sons!

But of course there are not-so-good things. Even in this age of being able to connect to almost everyone, everywhere, at any time, to see your children leave the home results in a feeling of being ‘disconnected’. There is a new remoteness. You find yourself frequently wondering, ‘What are they doing right now?’, ‘How are they feeling?’ ‘Is there some way we can help them?’ Indeed, at the deepest level, there is something that could rightly be described as a sense of loss. It’s hardly surprising. You have spent a quarter of a century with much of your life oriented around fulfilling the needs of your offspring and then, suddenly, they are gone in a cloud of suitcases and boxes, leaving silence behind. There is a finality, too, about children departing. When your sons or daughters are at home they are clearly your responsibility: however old they are, they remain ‘your children’. Once they leave they are on their own; they are still your sons or daughters, but they have to look after themselves. Childhood is ended.

So there are losses and they are painful. Yet – and here’s the interesting thing – what’s the alternative? We all know that if you try to hold on to your children something very wrong happens to them and to you. There is a time for birds to leave the nest and it is a foolish parent who tries to prevent that happening. The old saying that ‘you don’t have children, you are only loaned them’ is a very true one and if, like me, you see children as a gift from God then it has an even deeper significance. Oddly enough, another good thing is the feeling of quiet satisfaction that your children actually want to leave home. As the wise saying goes, ‘You need to give your children roots and wings.’ In one sense, the painful stillness of the empty nest says ‘we hope we did our best’ although I think that children have usually left home by the time their parents really get the hang of parenting! In the summer our eldest son got married and on the day of his wedding I told him, ‘Mum and I did the best we could as parents. Forgive us where we failed and we hope you do better with your children!’

Can’t wait for the Christmas holidays for their return!

If you would like to read more from J. John, you can find his blog HERE