Updated: Sep 20
Presiding over his first Opening Convocation as president of Belmont University, Dr. Greg Jones welcomed students into the academic year with a call to action.
Speaking to a masked-up crowd at the Curb Event Center Wednesday morning, Jones set the tone for his tenure by looking forward through uncertain times while challenging students, faculty and staff to play an active role in bringing change to their communities.
“What I want to ask you today is to be an agent of hope,” he said, marking the theme of his first year as president. “You can be an agent of hope. I can be an agent of hope. We all can be an agent of hope.”
In addition to highlighting the motto that will mark his first year as president — Let Hope Abound — Jones encouraged the entire Belmont community to be agents of hope both on campus and off.
And for the first time in over a year, a full campus filed into the Curb Event Center, ready to listen to the new president.
The Opening Convocation event began with a worship song, followed by an introduction from Provost Thomas Burns. Among his remarks were plans for the university to hire 65 new staff in the coming year.
Jones then took the stage, beginning his speech by acknowledging the challenges of both recent and future years. In addition to the persisting threat of COVID-19, Jones mentioned social justice issues, the conflict in Afghanistan and a focus on mental health.
He also affirmed his goal to make Belmont the leading Christ-centered university in the world by 2030.
Both of these projects tie in to Jones’ vision for the future, which includes not only physical goals, but personal growth in the Belmont community.
Jones onstage for Opening Convocation and First Day of Classes at Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee, August 25, 2021. Belmont Office of Communications
“Part of what it means to let hope abound is to be people of character,” he said.
He spoke about his conversations with Maggie Barankitse, a humanitarian in Burundi. During their meeting, they spoke about her routine of praying for one hour every afternoon, and she shared her morning prayer with Jones.
Jones ended his speech by inviting his “personal agent of hope” on the stage — his wife, The Rev. Susan Pendleton Jones.
The Rev. Jones gave a benediction, ending sending students out to their first day of fall semester.
PHOTO: President Jones onstage at Opening Convocation. Belmont Office of Communications
This article was written by Anna Jackson and Sarah Maninger.