Click here to view Belmont President Dr. Bob Fisher’s press conference with media. Below is a complete transcript of the event.
Belmont University has been the subject of much media and community scrutiny in the past week. In retrospect, I realize that we have not done a good job in communicating. I am sorry for that and I take full responsibility.
My job as president is to lead in a manner that brings people together—even if it involves difficult issues. In this case I would give myself very low marks. And it is not just a matter of grading myself – the real issue is the pain, hurt and fear that some are feeling.
The triggering event for this attention was a personnel action. Belmont, like any other responsible organization, has strict policies regarding the discussion of personnel matters and I will not be addressing any issues regarding this specific case or any “hypothetical case” that might be comparable.
The purpose of my statement is to address the much broader issue of sexual orientation and Belmont.
Last spring, as an alternative to creating a student led organization, a university conversation about gay and lesbian issues and the Christian faith issues was initiated. This group has met twice monthly since then with an average attendance of about twenty. That group discussion is on-going and met as recently as last week.
More recent events have focused attention on Belmont’s employment practices. Because of Belmont’s aspirations to demonstrate Christian character it is a safe and welcoming place for all.
The Belmont family, like any large family, comprises a rich and diverse mix of people. Within our student community there are many gay and lesbian students as well as gay and lesbian faculty and staff.
In the ten years that I have served as Belmont’s president, sexual orientation has not been considered in making hiring, promotion, salary, or dismissal decisions.
I need for you to hear that clearly—sexual orientation is not considered in making hiring, promotion, salary, or dismissal decisions at Belmont.
Neither is it considered in student admissions.
We are committed to working with our faculty, students, alumni, board, and community-at-large to dialogue about our policies and practices to ensure that our actions are consistent with the values stated above.
I have received about 400 communications regarding these issues and while it will take several days to get back to everyone, I will continue to make personal responses to each individual.
I end this statement with a story about our students.
Last year I was attending a Belmont sporting event when I was approached by the parent of one of the players and asked, “Which member of the team is your daughter?”
After a brief reflection I said, “All of them!” To which he replied, “Oh, you must be the president.”
And yes, I am the president of Belmont and that is the way I feel about every single student at our university!