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From there to here: opening convocation

President Bob Fisher addressed students and faculty at his annual state of the school Opening Convocation on Wednesday, looking back at how far the university has come, but also planning for the future.

Fisher started his remarks by showing a series of then and now photos of different spots at the university. He stressed the radical change made possible through the building of new residents halls, new academic facilities, Rose Park complex and the new Chik-fil-A, which received the loudest applause from the students. All were completed as part of Vision 2015, which launched in 2009.

“We achieved uncommon results, and we are only common people,” said Fisher.

Vision 2015 also included institutional goals. Fisher went into detail about the goals for retention, graduation rates, the average ACT of the school and attendance.

The goal for attendance was surpassed by 250 as the student body now tops 7,250, the largest it has ever been. But the average ACT score sits at 26, still lagging behind the goal of 27. While graduation and retention rates have improved to 68.2 percent and 84.7 percent, they have not yet reached the mark of 75 percent and 88 percent stated in the plan.

 “It has been slow and steady progress toward a really audacious goal,” said Fisher.

In the same time from 2009, student diversity has grown from 11.4 percent to 14.2 percent while the budget has almost doubled from $132 million to $229 million.

His remarks then turned to the future and areas that he saw need for improvement. Fisher noted that the institution needed to continue to focus on student and faculty diversity and improving technology.

He then launched into the plans for Vision 2020, the next stage in Belmont’s development. Fisher showed pictures of the new building on the lawn, a massive fountain in front of McWhorter and revealed the 10 guiding principles for the new plan. The president also touched on how this process must include everyone, not just the faculty or Board of Governors.

“The challenge here is whatever your department is to involve students in every step of the way.”

In a video segment made up student leaders, faculty and staff, Fisher went into detail on the guiding principles: student-centered, a people-first culture, strong Christian character, investments in people, promoting diversity, service to others, academic excellence, enhancing current technology, maintain momentum and strengthen the reputation of the school.

Next week, the Board of Governors will meet about implementing these guiding principles into the new Vision 2020 plan, which will be announced later this year.

“God has accomplished incredible things at Belmont and God will see us through,” said Fisher.

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