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Belhaven’s Music Department will present the faculty voice recital of Dr. Christopher Shelt entitled A Teacher with His Students. Dr. Shelt, Professor of Voice, Church Music and Choral Activities, will take the stage with selected students past and present on Tuesday, March 5 at 7:30 p.m. in the Center for the Arts Concert Hall.

As a teacher and performer, he finds great joy in sharing his love of music with others and this concert will be a celebration of the teacher-students relationship. The concert will feature ensemble singing from many genres and styles.

Admission will be complimentary and the doors will open at 7:00 p.m.

Belhaven Opens New “Think Center”

The Jackson campus will be open tomorrow, Friday, August 31.  All Jackson offices will be operating at normal hours and classes will meet as scheduled.

Be praying for those along the coast and in Louisiana who have been significantly impacted from this storm.

The Mindset of the Class of 2016

The annual “Mindset List” of  Beloit College is always an interesting way to understand the world of this year’s new students.  Some of the items on this year’s list include”

• For this generation of entering college students, born in 1994, Kurt Cobain, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, Richard Nixon and John Wayne Gacy have always been dead.

• Michael Jackson’s family, not the Kennedys, constitutes “American Royalty.”

• If they miss The Daily Show, they can always get their news on YouTube.

• Bill Clinton is a senior statesman of whose presidency they have little knowledge.

• They have never seen an airplane “ticket.”

• They have always lived in cyberspace, addicted to a new generation of “electronic narcotics.”

• The Biblical sources of terms such as “Forbidden Fruit,” “The writing on the wall,” “Good Samaritan,” and “The Promised Land” are unknown to most of them.

• For most of their lives, maintaining relations between the U.S. and the rest of the world has been a woman’s job in the State Department.

• They can’t picture people actually carrying luggage through airports rather than rolling it.

• There has always been football in Jacksonville but never in Los Angeles.

• A significant percentage of them will enter college already displaying some hearing loss.

• Women have always piloted war planes and space shuttles.

• They have lived in an era of instant stardom and self-proclaimed celebrities, famous for being famous.

• Billy Graham is as familiar to them as Otto Graham was to their parents.

• Probably the most tribal generation in history, they despise being separated from contact with their similar-aged friends.

• Before they purchase an assigned textbook, they will investigate whether it is available for rent or purchase as an e-book.

• NBC has never shown A Wonderful Life more than twice during the holidays.

• They know many established film stars by their voices on computer-animated blockbusters.

• They watch television everywhere but on a television.

• Astronauts have always spent well over a year in a single space flight.

The Jackson campus will be closed all day tomorrow, Thursday August 30.

Both classes and administrative offices will be closed.  Day and evening classes will not meet on Thursday at the Peachtree Campus or the LeFleur Campus.

Evening classes WILL meet tonight – Wednesday.

Tomorrow all campus buildings will be closed except for the Student Center and the residence halls.

We expect to return to a normal schedule Friday, but will be monitoring the weather and will make that decision late Thursday afternoon.


This morning I had the joy of preaching in our first chapel of the school year, using as my text, our theme verse of the year:  Ecclesiastics 3:1  To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven.

Illustrating how we need to learn to adjust to the seasons, I told this story about our 2006 football season. I had several requests for the story, so posting it here.


It’s football season!  Around the world that means soccer – where football is played with your feet. But for our 82 international students, you need to know the goal of North American football is to just stay on your feet.

In the United States, if there is one well-defined season for many, it is football season, because this game is so unique to our culture.

But did you know that in 2006, our Belhaven football team played two seasons?  It was one of the most remarkable things I’d ever seen.

That year I did something I’ve never done, before or since, as a college president – I asked a coach if I could talk to their team about their season.  I trust our coaches and so my job is to support them and stay out of their way.

But that year, in the middle of the week after the fifth straight loss of our football team, I happen to be speaking for a luncheon event, and our coach was in the audience to be supportive.  But I could see his mind was elsewhere, and if I was facing his problems, my body would have been elsewhere.

He was facing many challenges at the same time – at home, with his wife diagnosed with a rare life-threatening disease, they had brand new baby, and he was taking on his first season as head coach.

So when I saw him that day, he looked like he just needed someone to lean on.  So I broke one of my golden rules of administration and asked to talk to his team.

Though the years I’ve gotten used to making a speech on a moments notice on about almost any topic, but that day I really didn’t know what I was going to say when I saw them on the practice field that afternoon.

And you know, when you stand in the middle of 100 sweaty big football players in full pads, it is an intimidating place to be and I just prayed for God to give a word that might help.

And as I looked into their eyes, I didn’t see football players we watch on Saturday, but I saw guys who will become husbands, fathers, men who will be employees and employers, football players who will soon be community and church members – and I said something like this:

“Guys, this season is no longer about football, instead, it is about the rest of your lives.  What you do with the second half of this season will set your course.  You can place blame for a bad season, you can get mad, you can call it unfair, you can give up, and make excuses for this frustrating season.

Or you can pull together, look ahead with hope, do well what you’re trained to do, dig down deep to make a fresh start to overcome the tough circumstances, and commit it in a fresh way to God.

Because how you adjust, right now, to this tough season, is going to determine how you deal with the rest of your life when other tough times come.”

And I went on to suggest they consider that day the start of a new season, and begin that Saturday with a 0-0 record for the season.

Now after a speech like that, you’d think they would have lifted me on their shoulders….or thrown me in the lake.

But instead, there was no reaction – zero.  The coach said break, and they broke, and I walked off the field thinking, don’t ever break one of your golden rules of administration again.

I don’t know what the coaches did after that, but that Saturday, they beat Union by 3 points, and I heard one of our players on the radio say after the game that they were approaching this game like the first game of a new season.

The next week ran over West Virginia Tech, and the third week the solidly beat Lambuth who has gotten the best of us too many times.

By the start of the forth week, they were a team on fire.

But when you’re playing an away game, down by 4 points with only 20 seconds left and 62 yards between you and the goal line, you’ve got to believe God smiled on us for three games, and that’s good enough.

But when our desperation pass bounces off one player and into the arms of our fastest receiver ….

This is on our forever highlight reel . . . (video here)

By the fifth game, our team had gone from the lowest of the lows to the highest of the highs.  But they found themselves low again as they were down by 15 points going into the fourth quarter and we assumed the run of winning was over.

But 20 of our unanswered points in the final 15 minutes are more than just good play calling.

And at the end of the final game, which was homecoming, it was a great time of celebration as the team held up their “undefeated second season” shirts after an easy win.

Good seasons and bad seasons are part of life – in football, careers, relationships, finances, opportunities, and even faith.  There are times when it just seems to be going our way, and other times when we feel like too much is stacked against us.

So learning to not just accept the seasons, but adjust our outlook in the seasons is critical – because, the scripture says, there is a time and a purpose under heaven.

When you see a tough season as a time to grow, rather than just a time to gripe, God will use it to strengthen you and prepare you to be used of Him in ways far greater than you can imagine.

Prepared for Hurricane Isaac

When a hurricane enters the Gulf of Mexico, it nearly always impacts Belhaven University because we not only have our main campus in Jackson, Mississippi, but also have adult and graduate campuses in Orlando and Houston.  So no matter which way a hurricane turns, it tends to come close to one of our campuses.

We are well prepared for the potential that Isaac could hit Mississippi.  Right now it is projected to be a category 2 storm, which is far less severe than Hurricane Katrina seven years ago. Katrina was a category 5 when it hit the coast of Mississippi, and was the only storm in decades that was still at hurricane strength wind when it pushed inland to Jackson.

But since then, we’ve had a comprehensive hurricane plan in place, and for Isaac (and any other storm) we are well prepared:

1.  We stockpile thousands of bottles of water for a storm.

2. We have priority contracts for mobile facilities should we lose water service.

3.  We have a strong communications – always check our web site for closings and other weather related information.

4.  We deal with vulnerable trees long before a storm hits to minimize our risk to damage or power outages.

5.  Our food service has access to a good food supply that does not require refrigeration.

This storm is not likely to hit us hard in Jackson, but students are urged to be cautious once winds and rain pick up Tuesday evening and continue all day Wednesday.  We could see gusts of 40 mph.

Three important preparations students should be making:

1.  Fill your car with gas EARLY this week.  One of the most difficult challenges during Katrina recovery was finding fuel.  Again, we don’t expect that level of a storm, but we will have evacuees from the coast coming to Jackson and staying here since it will be safe this far inland, but they will all be filling their cars to return home.  So there may be some difficulty finding fuel after the storm.  Better to fill up now.  (The gas stations and grocery stores will get busier the closer we get to Wednesday.)

2.  Once the winds pick up, don’t be on the roads if you don’t have to be out.  Plan your week so you don’t need to be driving on Wednesday and Thursday.

3.  We will use our gymnasium as a shelter for up to 80 students from Loyola University of New Orleans if they must evacuate their campus.  It is likely they could be coming this week – living in the gym, and eating in the dining commons.  Help them feel welcome since they will be facing a difficult first days of the school year with this short term relocation.  We would only expect them to be with us for a couple days.  (We provide emergency shelter ONLY to these students from Loyola and we are not open to the public for shelter – there will be many places in Jackson for others.)

If you’re new to this part of the country where hurricanes sometimes come this time of year, you can track the storm on this web site – the maps are updated every hour. If you’ve been watching the storm models over the past few days you see each update slowly drifting west.

But those of us who have seen many storms through the years know that these storms are unpredictable and often change direction and intensity just before reaching land.  So after Katrina, we learned it is better to be over prepared than under prepared.

This fall we have 84 international students studying on the Jackson campus, with the largest groups from Brazil, South Korea, Columbia, United Kingdom, and France.

Not only do we have a record number of international students but every single student has a host family while studying at Belhaven.  We are one of the few universities in America that provide this level of support for students who come to us from around the world.

The number of students enrolled from each country:

Brazil 12
South Korea 10
Columbia 8
United Kingdom 8
France 7
Ireland 4
Rwanda 4
Venezuela 4
China 3
Sweden 3
Germany 2
Malaysia 2
Russia 2
Argentina 1
Austria 1
Barbados 1
Canada 1
Indonesia 1
Japan 1
Kenya 1
Latvia 1
Mexico 1
Nepal 1
Nigeria 1
Northern Ireland 1
South Africa 1
Taiwan 1
Zimbabwe 1

Belhaven University’s fall enrollment has shattered all our past enrollment records with 3,725 students this fall term.

This is an increase of 433 students over last year, and a one year jump of over 13%.

We have 1,150 traditional age students on the Jackson campus, and not only are our classrooms filled, but we have very few empty spaces in the residence halls.

Our branch campuses (Memphis, Houston, Orlando, Chattanooga, and Atlanta) enrollment will break the 1,000 students mark for the first time when they launch the last of their new class starts during this early part of the fall term.  This growth is remarkable during a time when nearly every institution offering adult education is declining – our branches will grow by 25% over last year.

Our Jackson undergraduate enrollment (previously known as ASPIRE) has dropped from a high of 884 in 2009 to 708 student this fall (78 students less than last fall).  But we believe this program will get back on track, and  follow the growth pattern of our branch campuses.  This summer we completed our long-term partnership with an outside firm recruiting for our Jackson campus, and we now have our own team in place.

Our fast paced growth of online undergraduate and graduate students, along with our high scholars program, continues to accelerate, moving from only 5 students in 2006 to 540 students this fall.

To capture a picture of our reach in Jackson, we have a total of 2,170 in our classrooms on the main campus and our new LeFleur campus.

Below are two charts which show the growth patterns of the past decade (click each to enlarge the images).

We rejoice and thank God for the privilege the Lord has given us to keep growing and serve so many wonderful students – every single one of them hand picked by the Lord to be studying with us.



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