While the annual Scholarship and Awards Day convocation always represents a highlight of the year, Wednesday morning’s celebration offered something special. This year-end celebration of academic achievement also demonstrated a son’s love and respect for his father, leaving few dry eyes in the Massey Performing Arts Center.
After receiving the John Williams Heart of Belmont Award, graduating senior Rami Nofal pulled Belmont President Dr. Bob Fisher aside and asked to do a presentation of his own. Nofal then asked his father to join him on stage as he publicly thanked him for the support and sacrifices that were making his graduation possible.
Another highlight of the morning’s celebration came when Dr. Rich Tiner, recipient of the 2012-13 Chaney Distinguished Professor Award, gave the Honors Address on the theme “Defining Moments.” Recalling the Apostle Paul’s charge in Philippians 3:14 to “press on to reach the end of the race ,” Tiner added, “This morning we recognize excellence and we should… But I encourage you to be defined not by the moment of recognition, but by your ongoing pursuit of excellence.”
Throughout the morning, all in attendance were also reminded of the ways in which the university is living out its Christian mission. For example, several award recipients were involved in projects at Belmont that have significant connections to local and international ministries, from work with Spring Back Recycling to Blood:Water Mission to Salama Urban Ministries.
Students honored in Wednesday’s ceremony included:
The Williams-Murray First Year Writing Awards: Logan Hunt and Eric Fox
The Alfred Leland Crabb Awards: Jesse Small and Sarah Nelson
The Stacy Awalt Writing Awards: Allison Griffey and Mackenzie Foster
The Annette Sisson First Year Writing Award: Lauren Tracy
The Lumos Travel Award: JoAnna Adkisson (South Africa), Kyle Ducharme (Thailand), Alina-Sarai Gal-Chi (Romania), Hilary Hambrick (Guatemala), Eric Taft (Guatemala) and Hilary Merwin (Columbia)
The John Williams Heart of Belmont Award: Rami Zaidoun Nofal
The First Year Award, Leadership: Kolton Clark Bullard
The Second Year Award, Leadership: Brennon Reid Mobley
The Third Year Award, Leadership: Allison S. Hearon
The Fourth Year Award, Leadership: Ale Delgado
In addition to student award winners, Dr. Ronnie Littlejohn, chair of philosophy and director of Asian studies, was named the 2013-14 Chaney Distinguished Professor. The Chaney Distinguished Professor Award, determined on the basis of superior teaching, is presented each year to a faculty member who best represents the vision of the university to be a “premier teaching institution.”
Littlejohn said, “Teaching is such an important part of my self-identity and self-understanding that receiving this honor really means a great deal to me. Sharing in the lives of Belmont students is a gift of providence. Being named the Chaney Distinguished Professor in an academic culture with so many incredibly talented scholar-teachers as at Belmont is truly humbling.”
Dr. Kelley Kiningham, assistant dean in the College of Pharmacy, was awarded the 2013-14 Presidential Faculty Achievement Award. The Presidential Faculty Achievement Award is presented each year to a faculty member who has made outstanding contributions to student life outside the classroom. The award honors and recognizes excellence in faculty-student relationships, special abilities in meeting student needs – academic, personal and professional – and symbolizes Belmont University’s commitment to being a student-centered institution.
“I am deeply humbled and extremely honored to be a recipient of this award,” said Kiningham. “The culture of service on this campus provides unique experiences for our students to grow, both personally and professionally, and I am forever grateful to have the opportunity to be a part of their journey.”