In an effort to take Belmont from being a “good” school to a “great” school, Belmont President Dr. Bob Fisher issued a stern warning in his semi-annual “Ask Dr. Fisher” convocation.
“I’ve been bothered about the cases of substance abuse. I want everybody to know Belmont is committed to a substance free campus,” said Fisher. “If you wanna sell dope, don’t come to Belmont. Don’t expect mercy.”
Fisher also expressed great concern regarding class scheduling after a music education major had said that their class size had grown from 15 to 30, a business major got pushed back in getting an entrepreneurship class scheduled, and a senior AET major had been instructed to conform to a curriculum change effective this year for freshmen.
“Each of these things are troubling to me,” Fisher said.
While Fisher instructed students to talk to the deans of their schools, he plans on speaking with those responsible for scheduling and investigating the cause of these issues.
“We need to schedule classes that are appropriate for students. This is a good lesson for you all, If you’re not willing to lead, get out of the way and let someone else do it,” Fisher said.
Near the end of the convocation, a student voiced concern over the university’s high admission rate of 84 percent.
“Admission rates are meaningless,” Fisher said. “Our ACT has gone up, class ranks have gone up. We have increased graduation and retention rates. We’re getting more and better students.”
Provost Dr. Thomas Burns also noted that Belmont’s admission standards have not changed and that despite nearly 5,000 applications in the past year there was only a three percent increase of growth from last year’s freshman class.
Burns and Fisher both addressed the issue of diversity on Belmont’s campus as a goal that they’re still wrestling with.
Burns said that each year, when new faculty are hired, Belmont strives to hire at least 20 percent of those people from underrepresented groups, and that faculty diversity is around the eight to nine percent range– a percentage that has doubled in the past three years.
Fisher noted the success of the Bridges program, but said that diversity “is still an issue.”
After citing the growth of Belmont’s campus since his arrival in 2000, Fisher announced that the campus’ newest residence hall on 15th has topped out and will include one-half apartment/suite-style like Horrell and Dickens halls while the other half will include suite style dorms like Thrailkill Hall.
Fisher also noted that a Starbucks will be located in the Wedgewood Academic Building as well as a flatbread/soup/salad restaurant yet to be determined despite his wishes for a Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse.
Belmont’s newest academic building, which has recently finished blasting, will include three times the current dining space in Gabhart and will host Curb College, Media Studies and Motion Pictures program in addition to 1,000 parking spaces.
When he was asked if there would be any practice rooms in the new facilities, Fisher announced that there is a deal that hopefully, by January, Belmont Heights will contain 16 isolated practice spaces with six pianos.