OPINION: Should Lee Beaman be back on the board?
Updated: Sep 20, 2022
“We are a Christ-centered, student-focused community, developing diverse leaders of purpose, character, wisdom and transformational mindset, eager and equipped to make the world a better place,” reads Belmont University’s new mission statement.
If this university wants to continue on this new “Christ-centered” trajectory, the past actions of recently returned trustee Lee Beaman directly conflict with President Greg Jones’ vision for Belmont’s future.
During his highly publicized divorce in 2018, Beaman faced allegations of inappropriate sexual conduct and abuse from his fourth wife, Kelley Speer.
The previous year, Beaman donated $2,700 to Senate candidate Roy Moore’s campaign, three days after news broke that the Alabama judge allegedly engaged in sexual relations with underage girls.
All this considered, is it OK to allow a man on the board of a “Christ-centered” university if that man has been accused of hiring prostitutes and verbally abusing his wife or has donated to alleged pedophiles?
And it shouldn’t even be up for debate. Especially since the university has made a point to uphold moral character as a standard for the entire community.
Beaman and his lawyers argued the allegations made by Speer in the divorce documents are “immaterial, impertinent and scandalous,” in a civil courtroom, but did not refute the specific allegations.
The trustee’s alleged actions are in direct conflict with Belmont’s employee handbook, which is readily available for all to read.
“As a community seeking to uphold Christian standards of morality and ethics, Belmont University holds high ideals and expectations of each person who chooses to join the community,” the handbook reads.
The university’s board of trustees is a part of this community, so why are its members seemingly held to different standards?
Beaman must be held to the same standards as everybody else here.
No ifs, ands or buts.
The Vision left messages for Beaman at the office of his auto dealership and with one of his attorneys, but none were returned.
Editors also tried to contact senior members of Belmont’s board of trustees, along with the recently-inaugurated Jones, regarding Beaman’s return, and received a three-sentence statement from Belmont in response.
“In 2018, Lee Beaman requested and was granted a leave of absence from Belmont’s Board of Trustees until his family dispute was resolved. That situation — a private family issue — has since been settled. Mr. Beaman volunteers his time, expertise and resources to support our students and Belmont’s mission through his role on the Board,” the statement read.
True, Beaman is well-known in Nashville, and his return brings with it local influence and a family foundation that has contributed millions of dollars to the university.
But does that alone warrant him a seat at the table?
And if Belmont is realigning itself as a more “Christ-centered” university, shouldn’t the board of trustees at the epicenter of it all lead the charge?
You can’t have it both ways.
PHOTO: Belmont Vision Multimedia
This editorial was written by Sarah Maninger, David Pang and Connor Daryani.