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Belmont Timeline

1842 — A group of leaders in business, law, religion and the liberal arts founded Cumberland University in Lebanon, Tenn.

1850 — Adelicia and Joseph Acklen built their summer home, “Belle Monte” on 180 acres of south Nashville.

1865 — Ward Seminary was established in Nashville, Tenn., for women, after the Nashville Female Academy moved to Alabama during the Civil War.

1890 — Ida E. Hood and Susan L. Heron founded Belmont College in Nashville. A local paper described the school as “the Vassar of the South.”

1905 — Tennessee College for women was founded. It was known for Christian character, scholarship and devoted alumni.

1911 — Ward Seminary and Belmont College combined to form Ward-Belmont College, a school for women. It became the first junior college in the South to receive full accreditation by the Southern Association of Colleges and Secondary Schools.

1934 — Ward-Belmont began a 17-year period of financial difficulties.

1946 — Tennessee College for Women and Cumberland University merged under the direction of the Tennessee Baptist Convention.

January 1951 — The trustees of Ward-Belmont offered the institution to the Tennessee Baptist Convention for the price of indebtedness, $650,000.

February 1951 — The executive board of the TBC voted to purchase the property of the Ward-Belmont and established a board of trustees for Ward-Belmont under the direction of Charles W. Pope.

March 1951 — The TBC executive board offered the use of the Ward-Belmont campus to the trustees of Cumberland University; the trustees voted to keep both the law school and the college of arts and sciences in Lebanon.

March 1951 — The TBC executive board announced they would operate coeducational college on the Ward-Belmont campus.

May 1951 — Cumberland was transferred back to its former trustees.

July 1951 — Administrative Committee of the TBC passed a motion asking the attorney of the Executive Board draft a document to guarantee the return of the Belmont property to the Executive Board of the TBC should the school fail or pass from Baptist control.

September 1951 — 136 students, male and female, began the first academic school year of Belmont College.

October 1951 — The TBC headquarters moved onto the Belmont college campus.

1952 — The TBC board elected R. Kelly White as the first president of Belmont College.

1953 — TBC authorized the United Campaign to raise funds for Tennessee Baptist Schools.

1955 — Enrollment passed the 500 mark.

August 1959 — Herbert C. Gabhart took office as second president.

December 1959 — Belmont received full accreditation as a senior college.

1964 — Williams Library and Striplin Gymnasium, the first new buildings in 40 years, were constructed.

1969 — The TBC sold Fidelity Hall and other properties to the Belmont board of directors for $175,000. The TBC headquarters moved from the Belmont campus to Brentwood.

1974 — The TBC approved the deletion of the provision in Belmont’s charter that granted them the right to approve amendments to the charter affecting trustee election. (per BU site)

1982 — William Troutt inaugurated as the third president of Belmont.

1983-1986 — Middle Tennessee churches were part of a campaign to raise $5 million in endowment for Belmont.

1986 — Belmont secured approval from the TBC to begin a Master of Business Administration program.

2000 — Robert Fisher appointed as fourth president of Belmont.

2000 — The TBC amended its bylaws to state “the affiliated institutions [Belmont and others] are autonomous nonprofit corporations, neither owned nor operated by the convention. Governance of the institutions is vested in their respective boards of trustees or directors in all matters.”

May 2004 — The TBC budget and program committee asked each TBC institution to rewrite its current program statement in the form of a covenant.

August 2004 — Belmont’s board of trustees voted to support a new covenant statement that would change their board to 60 percent Southern Baptist and 40 percent non-Baptist Christians.

November 2004 — TBC messengers were told Belmont University trustees have no desire to leave their affiliation with the Tennessee Baptist Convention. In response to TBC motion for investigation into the school’s theological teachings, Belmont president Bob Fisher stated: “According to the TBC bylaws, each board is responsible for the oversight of their respective institution and is the final authority in all matters, so I’m a little confused as to who does what around here.”

September 2005 – TBC executive board rejected Belmont’s proposal to lower the representation of Southern Baptists on its board of trustees from 100 percent to 60 percent.

November 10, 2005 – Belmont altered its bylaws and filed a new charter with the state that does not mention any type of relationship with the TBC.

November 14 – 15, 2005, messengers to the TBC annual meeting voted to cut funding for Belmont University but delayed acting on a proposed resolution that would have changed the language describing the relationship between the two entities from “affiliation” to “fraternity.” Belmont officials acknowledged their possession of a 1951 document with a “reverter clause” that would direct Belmont to return or repay funds and property to the TBC should Baptists lose control of the school.

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