Belmont Appoints Dr. Amy Crook, Sarah Cates as New VPs for Innovation, Strategic Partnerships

University President Dr. L. Gregory Jones demonstrates immediate commitment to placing innovation, partnerships in community as top priorities

Amy Crook and Sarah Cates headshots
Amy Crook (l) and Sarah Cates (r)

On his second day in office, new Belmont University President Dr. L. Gregory Jones announced two additions to his Senior Leadership team with the appointments of Dr. Amy Crook and Sarah Cates as vice presidents. Crook, an associate professor of management in Belmont’s Massey College of Business, will assume the role of Vice President for Transformative Innovation, Character and Purpose. Cates, a Belmont alumna who previously served as director of development and industry relations as well as in a variety of roles within Belmont’s Curb College of Entertainment and Music Business, will serve as Vice President for Special Projects and Strategic Partnerships.

Belmont President Dr. L. Gregory Jones said, “For Belmont University to fulfill its vision to ‘Let Hope Abound’ with students and in our community, we need to expand our leadership team so that more intentional focus on innovation, collaboration and strategic partnerships is possible. Amy and Sarah each bring a significant depth of experience, connectedness and entrepreneurial thinking that will elevate our efforts as we prioritize strategies aimed at providing education, experiences and initiatives that can transform lives across our campus and throughout Middle Tennessee and beyond.” 

As Vice President for Transformative Innovation, Character and PurposeDr. Amy Crook will work closely with the President while collaborating with other Senior Leaders, college Deans and faculty/staff. In this position, she will focus on internal relationship building and transformative interdisciplinary collaborations while fostering an entrepreneurial mindset across the campus to integrate student learning, scholarship and opportunities for social innovation. Responsibilities will include facilitating curricular and co-curricular efforts to enhance students’ sense of purpose and character formation and removing barriers that tend to stifle worthy but nontraditional projects/partnerships within academic institutions. Additionally, she will continue to teach one course per year to stay connected to the faculty and student experiences in the classroom.

Crook said, “I am delighted to step into this key role that President Greg Jones has established to help us live out our unique institutional purpose. Our Belmont faculty, staff and students have amazingly creative ways they want to engage and transform the world, and I’m excited to bring together people across disciplines who are passionate about meeting a particular need, but might never have otherwise collided and created something spectacular. I want Belmont to be known as the place that hones your character and academic acumen, and then provides you unparalleled support to unleash these strengths to tackle complex problems in our local and global community. I can’t wait to see what God will do in this next chapter of Belmont University.”

Crook, who recently completed a term as president of Belmont’s Faculty Senate, has been a faculty member in the Massey College of Business since 2012 teaching courses in Management and Organization Behavior as well as in Study Abroad programs. She is believed to be the first Asian American to join Belmont’s Senior Leadership team. She is a frequent author, speaker and consultant on organizational culture and behavior, team dynamics and student learning. The faculty advisor for the campus’ Asian American Association, HOPE Council and Korean Music Business Society, Crook is highly regarded among peers and students, receiving the Most Inspirational Professor Award three times (Massey Graduate School of Business, 2013, 2015 and 2019) and Student Organization Advisor of the Year award (2021) as well as being a finalist for the 2021 Presidential Faculty Achievement Award. After receiving her A.B. in Psychology at Duke University, Crook obtained both her Master’s and Ph.D. in Psychology from Rice University.

In her new role as Vice President for Special Projects and Strategic PartnershipsSarah Cates will also work closely with the President and Senior Leadership team to identify high-impact opportunities that will set the university apart and serve students in unique ways while bringing the institution local, national and global brand attention. In this role she will articulate Belmont’s vision, mission and values with internal and external stakeholders; proactively identify growth areas and partnerships; and serve as an external representative of the President as needed locally and beyond, among other responsibilities. Cates will draw on her extensive relationships in the music industry and the arts to cultivate relationships that can help highlight Belmont’s commitment to beauty as well as goodness and truth.

Cates noted, “I am honored and humbled to serve in this new role to help cultivate a sense of imagination for what could be for Belmont’s future. It’s inspiring to join a life-giving vision to ‘Let Hope Abound’ and pursue ‘life abundant’ not only with those on our campus each day, but also with our external partners. Our connection to the community, entrepreneurial spirit and Christ-centered mission have always been a north star for our work, and we will continue to build on these values with both internal and external partners as we seek an even bolder future ahead.” 

In her previous roles at Belmont, Cates’ impact was felt in a number of areas as highlighted accomplishments included playing a key role in the We Believe campaign raising philanthropic support for the University and delivering high impact events that connected Belmont more deeply to the community, particularly the music industry. Prior to her work in Development, Cates worked within the Curb College of Entertainment and Music Business since its inception in 2003, most recently as senior director overseeing all elements of external relationships, student enrichment, extension programs and partnerships. Beyond her work on campus, Cates is an active volunteer in Nashville, giving her time to numerous nonprofit organizations. She currently serves as chair of the Nashville Songwriter’s Hall of Fame Board and is a Board member of The Store. A Leadership Music graduate, she was recognized three-times in the Nashville Business Journal’s Women in Music City coverage and is a winner of Belmont’s Herbert C. Gabhart Award, the highest campus recognition of staff excellence. Cates received a B.B.A in Music Business and a Master’s in Organizational Leadership and Communication, both from Belmont.