Belmont Confers Honorary Doctorates to Marty and Betty Dickens, Bob and Judy Fisher

Degrees awarded this morning during one of four Spring 2021 Commencement ceremonies

Group photo from April 23 commencement. Pictured (l-r): Dr. Bob Fisher, Judy Fisher, Milton Johnson, Betty Dickens and Marty Dickens
Pictured (l-r): Dr. Bob Fisher, Judy Fisher, Milton Johnson, Betty Dickens and Marty Dickens

Belmont University held a series of four spring 2021 commencement ceremonies for graduate and undergraduate students on Thursday, April 22 and Friday, April 23. The events celebrated the graduation of 1,328 students with 999 bachelors, 106 masters and 223 doctoral degrees conferred. In addition, special honorary Doctor of University degrees were awarded to two couples who have greatly impacted both Belmont and the Nashville community: Marty and Betty Dickens and Bob and Judy Fisher.

Milton Johnson, chair-elect of the Board of Trust for Belmont, presented the degrees to these individuals. “Honorary degrees have been presented by American colleges and universities since 1962 in recognition of scholarly and creative attainments, as well as for meritorious humanitarian service. Belmont has rarely and selectively bestowed this award as the highest honor conferred by the University,” he said at Friday’s morning ceremony. Today it is my privilege to represent the entire Belmont community as we award Doctor of the University degrees to these individuals who have fully exemplified these characteristics in their devotion and service to the betterment of Belmont University.”

Marty Dickens has served as chair of the Board of Trustees since 2005 and has overseen remarkable growth in campus facilities, enrollment and national profile. Both Marty and Betty are highly active in the community, serving on the boards of several charitable and community organizations. Betty Dickens is a founder and current Board member of the Next Door, a Nashville nonprofit dedicated to serving women in crisis, while Marty Dickens is a 2013 Nashvillian of the Year who serves as chair of the Convention Center Authority as well as on the Boards of the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce and Nashville Symphony among others. Belmont previously recognized the couple in 2012 with the naming of a 300-bed residence hall in their honor: Dickens Hall.

Dr. Bob Fisher has served as president of Belmont University for 21 years and will retire in May. Under his leadership, Belmont’s enrollment has more than doubled from 2,970 to more than 8,400. During his tenure, countless new majors and programs have been added, and it was Fisher’s vision that brought the world’s spotlight to campus in both 2008 and 2020 by hosting two presidential debates. Additionally, Fisher has been named both “Tennessean of the Year” and “Nashvillian of the Year” due to his numerous roles serving in the community.

Judy Fisher has taken on the coordinator role for Belmont’s interior construction and exterior landscaping over the years and has been heavily involved in campus sustainability efforts. Belmont’s green roofs, designation by the Arbor Day Foundation as a Tree Campus USA, and numerous other recognitions for sustainability and environmental stewardship can be credited to her efforts.

Dr. Bob Fisher presided over the ceremonies and presented his final commencement addresses at each of the events. Each graduation ceremony can be viewed on the Belmont University website.