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Belmont History


Belmont University sits on 75 historic acres two miles southwest of downtown Nashville, Tenn., a thriving metropolis known worldwide as Music City USA. In the mid-1800s, the land the university now occupies was known as the Belle Monte estate, the Victorian home of one of Tennessee’s wealthiest couples, Joseph and Adelicia Acklen. Their antebellum Belmont Mansion remains today, flanked by university buildings separated in age by more than a century.

The first educational institution on the estate was the original Belmont College (1890-1913), offering elementary school through junior college education to young ladies. The school merged with Ward Seminary to become the prestigious Ward-Belmont School for Women (1913-1951), and in 1951, with the support of the Tennessee Baptist Convention, the school became the coed Belmont College. Since becoming Belmont University in 1991, Belmont has grown not only in size but in quality. The mansions, gardens and statues of Belmont's historic past now sit side-by-side with state-of-the-art facilities equipped with the best technology and teachers to educate today's students with the right tools for real world success.

Belmont University is among the fastest growing Christian universities in the nation with more than 6,600 students hailing from every state and 25 countries. Since 2000, enrollment has risen from just under 3,000 to 6,647 students for the 2012-13 school year. As enrollment steadily increases, so does the quality and diversity of each new class. Incoming freshmen represented 48 states and 14 foreign countries and scored an average of 26.4 on the ACT.


Belmont campusAcademics
Intent on being a leader among teaching universities, Belmont brings together the best of liberal arts and professional education in a Christian community of learning and service. Belmont was ranked seventh on the U.S. News & World Report listing of "Best Universities" in the South in the master's category for the 2013 edition of America's Best Colleges, making Belmont the highest ranked university in Tennessee in this category. In addition, Belmont was named a top "Up-and-Comer" for the fifth year in a row, a high honor that indicates the strength of the university's reputation and innovations.

Both Rolling Stone and Time magazines have hailed Belmont's Mike Curb College of Entertainment & Music Business as one of the best music business programs in the country. The Jack C. Massey Graduate School of Business has been named the best MBA program in the region, and Belmont’s business administration and accounting programs have earned accreditation by AACSB International, the premier accrediting agency in that arena. Moreover, Belmont’s entrepreneurship program has been named a National Model Undergraduate Program by the United States Association of Small Business and Entrepreneurship and recognized as a Top 20 program by the Princeton Review.

Located in the heart of Music City USA (Nashville, Tenn.), one of Belmont’s consistent success stories comes from its world-renowned music and music business programs. Several big names in the music industry started their careers at Belmont including “American Idol” finalist Melinda Doolittle, Christian recording artists Ginny Owens and Steven Curtis Chapman, and country stars Trisha Yearwood, Lee Ann Womack, Brad Paisley and Josh Turner. The annual “Christmas at Belmont” concert showcases performing ensembles from many different genres and has been broadcast nationwide on PBS 10 years in a row. The University recently added a songwriting major to its offerings, one of only a few such programs in the country.


Debate08 BannerStudents who have passions outside of the music industry also have a home at Belmont. From international business and accounting to education, sport administration, nursing, journalism and the humanities, Belmont provides avenues of learning for almost any interest. Recent program additions include interdisciplinary studies in social entrepreneurship, motion pictures and Asian studies as well as a doctoral degree in pharmacy, a program that is already gaining acclaim for its four-pillared approach to educating pharmacists for an ever-evolving health care environment. In addition, Belmont's College of Law began its first classes in fall 2011. The university's fourth doctoral program, Belmont's College of Law provides a natural extension of the university's mission and vision, which emphasize challenging academics, a service-minded approach, real-world experience and community leadership.

 Belmont's also received attention for its innovative, year-long programming around the university's hosting of the 2008 Town Hall Presidential Debate. A variety of speaker series, visual and performing arts programs, and special events occurred on campus, all centered on the theme "The Art of Being Free."

Belmont faculty members display a consistent commitment to excellence as well. Multiple professors have been awarded Fulbright awards, including a nursing professor who spent 2009-10 in Uganda as a guest lecturer while conducting research on how standards of nursing are adapted to austere conditions. Also, five Belmont professors from five different departments--Finance, Psychology, Spanish, Philosophy and Math--have been chosen as Tennessee Professor of the Year by CASE/Carnegie Foundation since 2000.

 Belmont's boundaries extend beyond the Nashville campus through its Cool Springs campus and organized programs such as the Washington Center program and music business' Belmont West in Los Angeles and Belmont East in New York City. Study-abroad programs place students in China, Costa Rica, Great Britain, France, Germany, Italy, Russia, South Africa and Spain, among other foreign nations. Also, Belmont serves as a regional site for the East-West Center for the Development of Asian Studies and is the host institution for the Cooperative Center for Study Abroad, a higher education consortium of 23 colleges and universities.

Campus Growth
As Belmont’s academic program offerings grow, so too does the physical campus. In 2012, the university opened the Randall and Sadie Baskin Center, a 71,000 square foot facility which serves as the home for the College of Law and law library and includes a five-level underground garage.

Also in fall 2012, Board of Trustees Chair Marty Dickens and his wife Betty joined University employees and students at a grand opening celebration for a new residence named in their honor. Dickens Hall, located near the intersection of 15th and Bernard Avenues, provides approximately 300 beds for Belmont upperclassmen as well as a 562-car underground parking garage. An adjoining residence hall (Magnolia) providing an additional 190 beds opens in January 2013.

Beyond classrooms and residential space, Belmont recently completed a $9 million renovation of Belmont Heights Baptist Church in order to create a new, large concert venue suitable for acoustic performances. In fact, the new 857-seat McAfee Concert Hall, which houses a 55-rank Aeolian Skinner organ, hosted the 2012 “Christmas at Belmont” concerts.

Other recent additions include...

—McWhorter Hall, a 90,000 square foot, state-of-the-art academic building, opened in 2010 and houses the University's Schools of Pharmacy and Physical Therapy, as well as the Department of Psychological Science. The $30 million structure is a model, 21st century academic facility, providing a venue where students and faculty resources can intersect to help meet the needs of the community and the world. McWhorter Hall emphasizes integrated, "hands-on" experiential learning components through medical simulation spaces and a licensed, state-of-the-art pharmacy.

—Belmont also opened Patton Hall and Bear House in Fall 2010. Together, the six-story halls provide an additional 103,000 square feet of residence space for more than 400 Belmont freshmen. 

—Belmont's intimate theater complex, which opened in 2007, featuring the 350-seat Bill and Carole Troutt proscenium theater, a Black Box theater and scene shop. The complex now plays host to numerous student productions as well as collaborative efforts with local professional ensembles, including the Nashville Children’s Theatre, Actors Bridge Ensemble, Nashville Shakespeare Festival and the Nashville Ballet. In 2008, the university opened Maple Hall, a residence facility to accommodate 190 freshmen students.


—the Gordon E. Inman Center, which opened in 2006, providing a state-of-the-art $22.5 million facility that houses Belmont's nursing, social work and occupational therapy programs. The School of Nursing was recognized by Laerdal Medical Corporation as a Center of Educational Excellence in part due to the advanced training the school's multiple simulation models offer to its students.  

—the 2003 opening of a $52 million entertainment and student life complex which houses the Curb Event Center arena, the Beaman Student Life Center and the Maddox Grand Atrium.


In addition to celebrating academic excellence and phenomenal growth, Belmont boasts 17 intercollegiate sports teams.

In July 2012, Belmont University became the 12th member institution of the Ohio Valley Conference, beginning a new chapter after 11 decorated years of achievement in the Atlantic Sun, including 36 A-Sun championships and 12 NCAA Tournament appearances. Of course, what brings the greatest pride is how Belmont’s student-athletes perform in the classroom, earning the Atlantic Sun Conference All-Academic Trophy an unprecedented nine times in 11 years, including in 2012. Belmont's Volleyball team and cross country runner Mia Elbon made the history books in fall 2012, landing the University its first team and individual OVC championships, respectively.

Led by Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame member Coach Rick Byrd, the Belmont Bruins men's basketball team has secured 10 conference championships (five regular season, five tournament) and six postseason appearances – including five NCAA Tournament appearances – since 2006. Byrd is currently seventh among all active NCAA Division I head coaches in career victories with 637.

A Christian Community of Learning and Service
In 2007, the university’s formal relationship with the Tennessee Baptist Convention ended. In recent years, Belmont broadened its mission and now includes on its Board of Trustees members of all Christian denominations. In addition, Belmont joined the Lilly Fellows Program’s National Network of Church-Related Colleges and Universities, a collective that also includes Baylor University, Boston College, Villanova and Notre Dame, among others.

Belmont is a student-focused, Christian community of learning and service where students hear from their first visit to campus until the day they graduate that they are created for a purpose in life. The Belmont faculty and staff dedicate themselves to preparing and empowering students to find their passion and use it to change the world. The university seeks to show every student how the love of Christ can compel them to lead lives of disciplined intelligence, compassion, courage and faith.

In fact, Belmont students, faculty and staff are consistently challenged to look at the hardest circumstances and ask, “What can we do?” Students are encouraged to engage and transform the world, locally and globally, by participation in disaster relief trips to everywhere from Southeast Asia to the areas in the northeast devastated by Hurricane Sandy. Of course, students also serve locally at various relief, nonprofit and ministry organizations throughout the year, amassing thousands of volunteer hours within the communities of Middle Tennessee. Others have taken advantage of what they’re learning at Belmont, incorporating their major studies into various service projects around the world, including working with orphans in India and assisting with physical therapy needs in Guatemala.

With more than 80 areas of study, 23 master’s programs and five doctoral degrees, there is no limit to the ways Belmont University can expand an individual's horizon.