Unlike any other semester’s first day, university President Dr. Bob Fisher welcomed students virtually this year at his annual opening convocation address Wednesday night as the first day of classes drew to a close.
During his pre-recorded address, Dr. Fisher highlighted the University’s growth and successes of the past five years — as well as outlined some of the strategies that will be used to guide the next five years at Belmont.
“We have this special opportunity to look back at the completion of this time of Vision 2020 and to look forward to the plan Vision 2025,” said Dr. Fisher.
“And so you get a doubleheader today as we look back and we look forward at the same time.”
Dr. Fisher recalled many major accomplishments made by the Belmont community over the course of the last five years, such as:
Increased enrollment from 7,350 students in 2015 to 8,440 students in 2019. However, the enrollment figures for the 2020 academic year are unknown at this time, said Dr. Fisher.
National recognition in Billboard magazine as one of the top 10 schools for music business. Of this achievement, Dr. Fisher jokingly remarked, “I’d say, don’t say that, say No. 1.”
Acquisition of new partners such as O’More College of Design and Watkins College of Art. With the new students, majors, and programs brought to campus, “Belmont has become the hub of the arts here in Tennessee,” said Dr. Fisher.
Passing the billion-dollar marker in assets while continuing to grow in financial strength. “We have achieved extraordinary financial strength over the last few years,” said Dr. Fisher. “The growth of our endowment from $97 million to $270 million in just the last five years.”
And it was reaffirmed that Belmont plans to host the presidential debate on campus this coming October. “That’s the Super Bowl of politics, and we’re very excited about hosting that event once again this year,” said Dr. Fisher.
Though Dr. Fisher did not expand on the university’s ongoing response to the COVID-19 pandemic, he said student safety is one of his personal priorities, urging Belmont students to be mindful of the community’s health and well-being in the coming semester.
“You’ll be required to do some things, and I know that’s a word that people rebel at, but you’re going to be required to behave in some ways that maybe wouldn’t be your first choice of what to do. But it’s going to be critical if we’re going to continue to learn together on this campus that we follow those protocols,” said Dr. Fisher.
After reflecting on the many ways Belmont has changed in the past five years, Dr. Fisher remarked that the University’s vision has always remained the same: “to be a leader among teaching universities, bringing together the best of liberal arts and professional education in a Christian community of learning and service.”
Dr. Fisher then looked forward to Vision 2025, which will be accomplished by continuing to uphold the university’s mission statement, vision and values as outlined in Vision 2020.
“I just reviewed the mission statement, vision, and the values, those are the same from five years ago, nothing’s changed there,” said Dr. Fisher.
“And I think that’s really a good thing. Belmont’s values should not be changing over time. We need to stick with who we want to be and know why we’re here and we need to know, and do know, where we’re going.”
The 2025 Vision will incorporate seven strategies that look to make Belmont grow as a university, a student body and expand outreach into the community. The seven strategies are:
“Attract, retain and graduate extraordinary students”
“Build strong relationships within the Belmont Community”
“Ensure long-term organizational strength through efficient use of resources”
“Strengthen the university by creating a more diverse and inclusive environment”
“Evaluate learning processes and innovate to connect”
“Commit to making our hometown an even better ‘Nashville’s university’”
“Exemplify our christian faith, live what we say”
To close the university address, Dr. Fisher quoted Jeremiah 29:11 and welcomed students to this the start of this new semester.
“I want to invite you to join me as we seek to know those plans in detail and to find our own place in those plans. I want to wish you the best this year and thank you for all that you do for Belmont.”
This article written by Madison Bowen and Anna Jackson.