While classes may be out for the summer, Belmont’s campus has seen no shortage of activity in past weeks, with several major announcements and construction projects highlighting the university’s 125th anniversary.
Mayor Karl Dean to join political science faculty
University President Bob Fisher announced July 8 that Nashville Mayor Karl Dean will be joining the Belmont faculty as a distinguished visiting professor of history and political science at the end of his term in October.
“We are so thrilled to have him join our Belmont community, and I’m so excited for our students who will have the opportunity to work with you, the opportunity to be in the classes you will teach and the seminars on leadership you will lead, to be around you at Belmont and learn from all that you have done,” Fisher said.
Dean said he is “deeply honored to be asked to join the faculty at Belmont” and that he wants to work with Belmont to embrace the city’s growing diversity.
WAC awarded LEED platinum certification
The Wedgewood Academic Center was also awarded a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design platinum certification by the U.S. Green Building Council at the July 8 press conference, making it the greenest building on campus.
“This designation represents the only new construction in Nashville to ever be designated LEED platinum. It’s the only university building in Tennessee– new construction– to be designated LEED platinum as well,” Fisher said.
As the certification focuses on saving energy, money and resources, the building’s five-level, underground parking garage, vegetative and highly reflective roof segments, water-saving plumbing fixtures and reduced energy consumption contributed to the honor, Earl Swennson Associates principal architect David Minnigan said.
The certification is the the campus’s second– with the Baskin law building certified gold in 2012– and will hopefully precede another high level certification for the new Dining and Academic Center, Fisher said.
“It doesn’t end with a plaque on the wall that says ‘Mission accomplished.’ It’s about Belmont’s continued commitment to the future,” Minnigan said.
Belmont continues employment benefits for same-sex couples
Belmont was recently featured in a Christianity Today article recognizing several Christian universities that offer employment benefits to same-sex couples.
Belmont has offered benefits such as insurance and bereavement leave to “legally married employees of the same gender” since requests to do so were made in 2013, said Jason Rogers, vice president for administration and university counsel.
The policy was put into place two years after Belmont added sexual orientation to its nondiscrimination policy and two years before the Supreme Court’s decision to legalize same-sex marriage on June 26.
“Since Belmont doesn’t discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation, we extended benefits to same-sex couples at that time and continue to offer employment benefits to legally married same-sex couples today,” Rogers said.
Construction, renovations, demolition changing campus landscape
Construction has continued across campus this summer as the Massey Business Center begins a $10 million dollar renovation that will close the first floor lobby and second floor atrium until January 2016, according to Belmont’s website.
The renovations aim to modernize the facility and expand its technology and programs. They will not affect classrooms, event spaces, offices or basement studios when the fall semester begins, though pedestrian traffic may be limited near the building.
The new Dining and Academic Center is nearing completion, with the official grand opening to be held on August 22, while the new dining hall will open a few days prior, said Keith Chapman, managing director of auxiliary services.
Demolition of the Wheeler Humanities Building is also in progress, as the structure is removed from campus.
Photo by Mari Davis