Belhaven Promise

As a new semester begins during the COVID-19 pandemic, officials at Belhaven University have outlined common practices to keep its students, faculty, and staff safe. The Belhaven Promise provides guidelines for both an offensive and defensive strategy for safety while students are on campus.

“These Belhaven Promise requirements will not be optional,” said Belhaven University President Dr. Roger Parrott. “It is critical for our safety that we agree to these precautionary boundaries, and hold to these standards because of our commitment to love each other in Christ. As our Belhaven Promise instructs, we need to play both offense and defense to keep us all safe in the game. By enrolling this fall, you are agreeing to follow the standards of the Belhaven Promise.”

Everyone at Belhaven is expected to help by following all of the guidelines below:


  • Face – Wear a mask over both mouth and nose. Where inside if others are present including during class (exceptions include meals and residence hall rooms)
  • Space – Keep a social distance all the time.
  • Wash – Frequently use soap and water or sanitizer.
  • Widen – Avoid close contact on or off campus.


  • Check – Monitor fever over 100.4, dry coughing, or difficulty breathing.
  • Widen – Avoid close contact on or off campus.
  • Quarantine – Isolate if you have been exposed or contracted COVID-19.
  • Vaccine – Get the recommended (not required) free flu vaccine this fall.

This video highlights the 8 key elements of the Belhaven Promise:

Student Awarded Gilman-McCain Scholarship for Study Abroad

The U.S. Department of State has awarded the Gilman-McCain Scholarship to Cassidy Ainsworth, a senior international studies major. The scholarship provides $5,000 for the dependents of military for internships and study abroad.

“Cassidy is a diligent student committed to excellence in her scholastic achievements and very deserving of this prestigious scholarship,” said, Assistant Professor and Chair of International Studies Dr. Kristen White. “From the first day I met her before her freshmen year, she envisioned how to glean the most from Belhaven’s International Studies program, which includes the capstone of her study abroad experience in Costa Rica. This journey will likely be the hallmark of her collegiate experience and successfully launch her forward into graduate school to pursue her calling.”

Ainsworth, from Denham Springs, Louisiana, is expected to graduate in May 2021 with a B.A. in International Studies and will use the scholarship for her semester abroad in Costa Rica. Studying abroad is a requirement for international studies majors. “There are many benefits to gain from study abroad: international experience, second language, flexibility, cultural intelligence, and more,” said Ainsworth. “I would love to see more students from an array of fields take the opportunity in college to study in another country and culture. This is also a core view for all Gilman programs, so much so that they require all recipients to promote the accessibility of international internships and study.”

The U.S. Department of State sponsors and oversees the scholarship as part of its effort to expand the number of Americans studying and interning abroad, and is supported by the Institute of International Education (IIE).

Ainsworth said that studying abroad gives her experiential learning where she can implement the skills and knowledge gained in the classroom over the past three years. She adds, “It also can launch one into their career and ahead of their peers. As an eventual career, I plan to work cross-culturally with internationals: immigrants, international students, sojourners, and refugees. By living in another country, going through cultural shock, and learning a new language, I will be able to better relate to internationals. Additionally, studying abroad will build my credibility with international students, immigrants, sojourners, and refugees.” Ainsworth plans to further her education through graduate school and other experiential learning opportunities

Five New Professors Join Belhaven University Faculty

Belhaven University has added five new professors. These top professors come from a variety of backgrounds and have a wealth of knowledge and experience to share with students.

Wesner joined the Belhaven faculty directly from the marketplace as the artistic/executive director and co-founder of Neos Dance Theatre. For seven years, he was a visiting instructor of dance at Oberlin College. He worked at The University of Akron as an adjunct instructor and guest choreographer and was a Knight Arts Challenge recipient. Wesner will share insight with the students about operating a nonprofit, experience in the professional dance world, choreography, and technique classes.
Shi has been teaching at Belhaven University as an adjunct professor since March 2019. He has worked at the International Center of Mississippi College and was an adjunct physical education teacher at Mississippi College. Shi received his B.A in Translation (English-Chinese) from DaLian University in China, and his MBA in Finance and Master in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) from Mississippi College.
Rowan previously taught at Hinds Community College as an adjunct and has seven years of teaching experience from Jackson Academy. He has also worked in various capacities as artist-in-residence, art editor, curator, and community organizer. His work has been exhibited in multiple solo and group shows throughout Mississippi, Maryland, and Japan. He received his B.A. in Art from Belhaven University and his M.F.A. in Studio Art from the Maryland Institute College of Art.
Dentel is starting her tenure at Belhaven University this year. She comes from a professional theatre background, working several years as a designer and in costume construction. Dentel received her MFA in costume design from the University of Virginia.
Yenish is in his debut season with Belhaven University. Yenish’s background is in technical theatre, specializing in lighting design, scenic design, and technical direction. He earned an MFA from Minnesota State University and BA from Bethany Lutheran College. Yenish has over 15 years of experience and looks forward to working with the students and staff at Belhaven University to continue the tradition of excellence in theatre and approaching the field through a Christian Worldview.

Alumna and Award-Winning Journalist Thriving as Host of News Show

Alumna Javanté Ingram ‘12 is an award-winning journalist who regularly interviews celebrities like Bill Bellamy, Monique, Bob Sagat, and Harry Connick Jr.

Currently working at WTSP-TV in Tampa, Florida, Ingram is the host of the station’s weekday lifestyle entertainment show, Great Day Live.

“Even though I started my career in news, I’ve really found my passion in lifestyle entertainment,” said Ingram. “I have never met a stranger, and I love hearing people’s stories, so it’s a joy to be able to do that every day as the host of Great Day Live.”

Her expert reporting has garnered the attention of the Associated Press, and she has earned awards for Best Anchor, Best Reporter, and Best Franchise Reporting. Two of her favorite interviews were with actor and comedian Bill Bellamy and a “remarkable, strong and positive cancer patient named Serra.”

One of Ingram’s most significant shows on Great Day Live focused on creating positive change and equality after the murder of George Floyd. Ingram adds, “After the murder of George Floyd, I was so deeply grieved. The lifestyle shows I co-host, crafted a whole show about creating a better tomorrow. This show was the launch of my committment to make meaningful change in this country and world!”

Originally from New Orleans, Ingram came to Belhaven as a dance major, but changed her major to communications during her junior year. She got her start in TV because of an event hosted by Belhaven’s Communication Department. In the Fall of 2012, news directors and general managers from across the state were on campus for a one-day conference where students could get feedback on their work.

Ingram recalled, “My future general manger, Phil Sullivan, stood in front of a group of eager students and said, ‘It only takes me 10 seconds to decide if I want to hire someone or not,’ in a stern voice. I frantically switched the CDs and pulled up a story I felt showcased my strongest work. I showed him my work and a week later his news station asked that I visit Tupelo to interview in person. I became the first-person Phil Sullivan ever offered an anchor position fresh out of college. He is now a dear friend and mentor.”

After she graduated, she began her job at WTVA News, an ABC affiliate in Tupelo, Mississippi. She joined the team as a morning news anchor, multimedia reporter, and producer. Her career began to takeoff and was then offered a job at WBMA, an ABC Affiliate in Birmingham, Alabama. She served as host of a lifestyle entertainment show and traffic anchor, and she would occasionally fill-in at the anchor desk to report the news. From there, she transitioned into her current job with WTSP-TV.

When not working, Ingram is very passionate about giving back to the community. She has served as a board member for The Boys and Girls Club of North Mississippi, The Civic Ballet Company, The Doniphan Dance Project, and the Leadership Council for the Boys and Girls Club of Central Alabama. She has also volunteered with a number of civic organizations.


Through the years, Belhaven University’s Dance Department has experienced significant growth and become a sought-after program for students, both regionally and nationally. This year marks another important milestone with the hiring of new faculty, expanding facilities, and the introduction of a new Pilates Teaching Certification.

MFA Chair and Professor of Dance Krista Bower adds, “Our newly expanded facilities, Pilates program, and the addition of Mr. Bobby Wesner to the dance faculty, reflect Belhaven University’s commitment to excellence in the Arts. Our program aims to prepare students technically, artistically, academically, and spiritually for God’s unique calling on their lives. We look forward to welcoming a strong freshmen class in August and continuing to grow the program in the years to come.”

Bobby Wesner, Belhaven’s Senior Instructor of Dance and Resident Choreographer

Construction on a fifth dance studio was completed in July 2020. The studio in the Bitsy Irby Visual Arts and Dance Center features Harlequin sprung and marley flooring, floor-to-ceiling windows, and a state-of-the-art sound system. The studio is also home to three new Pilates Reformers and supplementary equipment.

The Dance Department already offers a number of quality degrees that include: BA in Dance, BFA in Dance, and MFA in Dance as well as programs for certificates and apprenticeships in dance. According to Bower, the newest addition is a Pilates Instructor Training program. “The Dance Department is excited to launch a Pilates Instructor Training program, which will provide dance majors and minors the opportunity to earn a Pilates Teaching Certification alongside their degree,” said Bower.

Hiring quality instructors is another reason the program is thriving. Choreographer and dance educator Bobby Wesner joined the Belhaven University Dance Department beginning in Fall 2020. Wesner has many years of experience as a choreographer, artistic director, dance company founder, collaborator, and professor, and took the role of Belhaven’s Senior Instructor of Dance and Resident Choreographer.

“We are thrilled that Bobby Wesner has joined us at Belhaven,” said Chair and Associate Professor of Dance Krista Bower. “Mr. Wesner brings significant experience as a professional dancer with Ballet Arizona and as co-founder and artistic director of Neos Dance Theatre. His expertise in ballet, men’s technique, pas de deux, jazz, contemporary dance, non-traditional partnering, choreography, and dance management will benefit our students and program. As a Christian dance artist and educator, he was eager to teach and mentor Belhaven Dance students as they prepare for their careers. I know he will make a meaningful impact in our department for years to come.”

Wesner has taught master classes and workshops as an instructor of dance at Oberlin College, adjunct professor at the University of Akron and as a guest artist at Belhaven University. As a collaborator, he has worked with diverse artists and musicians at venues including the Akron Art Museum, symphonies, and school districts.

He began his career as a professional dancer with Ballet Arizona, under the direction of Michael Uthoff. During his stay in Phoenix, Wesner had the honor of working with American Classics such as Fredric Franklin, Daniel Ezralow, Moses Pendlelton of Momix, the Artistic Directors of Pilobolus, Kevin O’Day, Jowali Willa Jo Zolar of Urban Bush Woman, and also his wife Brooke. Wesner’s dance repertoire includes masterpieces such as the Profiteer in The Green Table by Kurt Jooss; Iago in The Moor's Pavane by Jose Limón; “Tico” in Company B by Paul Taylor, (also in Taylor's “Esplanade”); three works of Antony Tudor: Lilac Garden, Leaves are Fading, and Continuo; and The Jester in Earnst Uthoff's Carmina Burana.

Independently, Wesner has traveled and performed with various companies all over the northeast region of the U.S. and in Italy. As director and co-founder, Wesner has choreographed six evening length story ballets for Neos Dance Theatre and produced an additional ballet by resident choreographer Mary-Elizabeth Fenn. Neos also performs many of Wesner’s repertory works, including “Spinning Plates,” “Various Principals,” “Norm and Cleo,” and more.


Nursing celebrated the accomplishments of its Bachelor of Science in Nursing Class of 2020. The nursing class achieved a 100% pass rate on the National Council Licensure Exam for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN).

This is the second consecutive year Belhaven nursing majors have earned a perfect score that faculty hope to repeat in years to come. Dean of Belhaven’s School of Nursing Dr. Amy Rex Smith credits her faculty for their success. “We’re grateful for our strong faculty and their dedication in helping our students thrive as they launch into professional careers,” said Smith. “The licensure exam can be a daunting hurdle, but our faculty start preparing our students early and walk with them through the preparation process every step of the way. It’s great to see that the faculty and student process of mentoring pays-off with this amazing pass rate.”

This hallmark accomplishment allows these students to competently practice as registered nurses and utilize the credential of Registered Nurse. Smith adds, “Getting a 100% pass rate shows that we are functioning well and means that our students will receive national licensure so they can practice as a registered nurse not only in Mississippi but can be licensed in every state in the United States.”

Now more than ever, the world needs quality nurses and Assistant Professor of Nursing Dr. Tina McDyess believes Belhaven’s nursing graduates are prepared for the challenge. “Belhaven’s nurses are motivated and determined to meet the individualized needs of their patients, families, and communities in a variety of settings,” said McDyess. “Belhaven’s School of Nursing has distinguished characteristics of being a rigorous, Christian-based nursing program that assist students to develop into highly educated nurses. The reputation of developing and graduating good, quality nurses who are compassionate about the care that they provide precedes the program.”


Belhaven University is the first and only university in America offering free tuition in the fifth year for students pursuing a double major. This promise is for full-time freshmen that declare a double major and remain continuously enrolled for four years.

“Belhaven is one of the top ranked universities in America in the Arts, but I’ve been increasingly concerned about our students majoring in the Arts being equipped for a challenging job market,” said Dr. Roger Parrott, Belhaven University President. “I started dreaming about what it might be for all those students to double major in arts administration in order to have more options in the job market. And then I dreamed of what that could do for students in the Arts combined with any major; and the idea grew to all students, regardless of their core majors.”

Belhaven officials are encouraging students to combine and customize the majors that best fit their career path. According to the National Survey of College Graduates, pairing a business degree and a STEM major is the most lucrative combination for students.

“As our students look to graduate from college, it’s important for them to develop a competitive edge,” said Dr. Kevin Russell. “While taking on two college majors may mean more work, it can also bring a much greater reward. We want to fuel our students’ academic passion and help them maximize success. That is why Belhaven's Double Major Promise is the key to giving our double majors every advantage when they step into their careers.”

Dr. Russell observed that double majors who pursue two arts degrees, or any arts degree combined with English, psychology, business, or communications can drastically expand career choices for graduates. “We also see that almost any major combined with education or international studies gives students immediate options for full-time employment after college.”

Kendall Jackson, a senior who is earning degrees in dance and graphic design, said, “I cried out of joy and shock, when I first heard about the Belhaven’s Double Major Promise. Coming to the University, I wanted to pursue both graphic design and dance, and I didn’t want to give one up. Double majoring is not an easy task, but I know it will be very rewarding. Having two degrees makes me more marketable upon graduation, and I will be able to dance professionally and have a graphic design business on the side.”

Jackson believes the Double Major Promise will take away the concern of the additional cost of tuition. “After the fourth-year scholarships end, it was going to be challenging for my family to pay for that last year,” said Jackson. “It was going to be tight, but having the fifth year free will now allow me to be able to graduate debt-free, giving me a great start to life after college.”

With careful planning, students can complete many double majors in only four years. If more time is needed, “Belhaven University wants to help financially in order to allow students to reach their highest goals,” adds Dr. Parrott. For more information, visit Belhaven University’s Double Major Promise.

Belhaven University is One of the First to Offer New Tradigital Degree

Belhaven University’s academic offerings continue to grow with the new Bachelor of Arts in Tradigital Studies. “Belhaven is among some of the first universities to offer this unique integration of practical and foundational work in visual art and graphic design,” said Jon Micah Tyson, co-chair of Belhaven’s Art and Design Department.

Tradigital is art and design that incorporates traditional and digital processes in the creation of a work. Students who graduate with a tradigital degree transition into careers as art directors, graphic designers, web designers, branding and visual strategies, printing technicians, and production artists.

Tyson said, “It's a degree that is built on reliable and healthy approaches to authentic art making processes, and gives the student the ability to understand those processes in light of technologies’ role in the creative space.”

Students in the tradigital program will study drawing, design, art history, aesthetics, photography, computer graphics, web design, print design, digital imaging, and animation.

Tyson adds, “The artists and designers of today need to be exposed to current and emerging technology and processes. The skills you will acquire with a degree in tradigital studies can be applied to a vast array of creative careers.”

Belhaven University already has a long history of artistic and technical excellence, and according to Tyson, the new program will prepare students for a demanding, tech-driven industry.

“Traditional mediums, foundational design methodology, digital processes, and the latest modern technology all mix beautifully together to expand a creatives’ toolbox and skillset to fit the demands of a modern marketplace,” said Tyson.


Students in Belhaven University’s School of Science and Mathematics can now study engineering through a unique dual degree program with the University of Mississippi (UM) and Mississippi State University (MSU).

The UM’s School of Engineering and MSU’s Bagley College of Engineering partnered with Belhaven University’s School of Science and Mathematics to provide an academically robust program that benefits all three institutions.

John Estes, Belhaven University’s Yerger Chair of Mathematics and Director of Engineering Partnerships, said, “By joining our resources, we will be able to generate more STEM majors—a distinct need of the state of Mississippi. Our partnership will serve to benefit both universities, our region and state,” Estes said.

“We are proud to offer students the benefits of both a Christian liberal arts university like Belhaven and research institutions like MSU and UM,” Estes said. “Our students will have the opportunity to get hands-on mentorship, a solid foundation in science and technology, and interaction with engineering professionals at Belhaven and specialized courses, research, and connections with industry at our partnering institutions.

The partnership offers students an opportunity to simultaneously earn a degree in biology, business, chemistry, mathematics or physics from Belhaven, a private, Christian liberal arts college in Jackson, and an engineering degree from UM or MSU. The dual degree program does not guarantee students will earn two degrees, as each student must fulfill the degree requirements for each university to earn its degree.

"We are pleased to partner with Belhaven University on this important initiative," said Morris Stocks, UM interim chancellor. "By joining our resources with those of Belhaven, we will be able to generate more STEM majors – a distinct need of the state of Mississippi."

“This partnership with Belhaven University will bring excellent students to MSU and expose them to world-class engineering faculty that are leaders in their field,” said MSU President Mark E. Keenum. “I’m proud to partner with Belhaven to create more educational opportunities in Mississippi, and I look forward to seeing these students thrive in our Bagley College of Engineering and then begin an impactful career.”

Students pursuing the dual degree can be admitted to both universities. They will spend the first two to three years at Belhaven, pursuing a specified degree along with available pre-engineering and engineering courses. Upon completion at Belhaven, these students will enter the engineering college at UM or MSU as a junior to complete the remaining courses required for the engineering degree. Courses taken at UM or MSU will be transferred back for a bachelor’s degree from Belhaven.

Belhaven University President Roger Parrott believes that engineering students will get the best of both universities. “Students will take foundational STEM courses and general core curriculum from our expert faculty, who are gifted in preparing students for work at the highest levels of engineering,” Parrott said. “Students will also have all the advantages of a smaller Christian university. Then students will move on to MSU or UM for top-level engineering courses with their senior faculty. Smart students will understand that by using the best strengths of each university, they will receive the very best education.”



U.S. News & World Report honored Belhaven University with several awards for its excellence in higher education. The University earned accolades in three major categories of the U.S. News Best Colleges 2020 list: Best Regional Universities in the South, Best Undergraduate Teaching for Regional Universities, and Top Performers on Social Mobility.

“I’m pleased that U.S. News & World Report and others have recognized the significance of a Belhaven education,” said Belhaven University President Dr. Roger Parrott. “We have consistently been recognized for our value, academic quality, Christian principles, and military friendly programs. These accolades affirm what we already know about the quality of our programs, faculty and students.”

Belhaven’s top ranking for Best Regional University in the South saw a significant move-up from 65 to 47. This is the first time Belhaven has been ranked in the top 50 and the sixth time they were honored as a Best Regional University in the South. Improvements were noted in almost every category.

U.S. News highlighted the University’s improvements in its overall score, graduation rate, peer assessment and first year retention, faculty-to-student ratio, ACT scores of accepted students, and alumni giving. The rankings also emphasize outcomes, with graduation and retention rates carrying the most weight in the methodology.

This year, Belhaven was included on a list of distinguished universities, both regionally and nationally, that include John Brown University, King University, Lee University, and Anderson University.

Top college administrators voted on the Best Undergraduate Teaching accolade and recognized Belhaven’s focus and strong commitment to undergraduate teaching. “The recognition reflects our academic strength, but it is when students interact with our faculty, they understand Belhaven’s heart for Christian care, and our commitment to assure that every student develops their God-given gifts to full potential,” observed Parrott.

The Top Performers on Social Mobility accolade honored Belhaven for advancing social mobility by enrolling and graduating disadvantaged students who were awarded with Pell Grants.

“We are thrilled to be recognized with these awards by U.S. News and World Report,” said Belhaven University Provost Dr. Bradford Smith. “We’re proud of the faculty assembled here at Belhaven who care about each student and are focused on making the classroom experience stimulating and life-changing. At Belhaven, students from anywhere—small town, big city, or anywhere in between—can discover their life dreams and graduate prepared to pursue them.”


For the second consecutive year, Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society (PTK) nationally recognized Belhaven University for its commitment to transfer students. The distinction honors four-year institutions that develop pathways to excellence and success among community college transfer students.

Belhaven was one of 123 colleges and universities in the United States named to PTK’s 2020 Transfer Honor Roll.

“The Transfer Honor Roll reflects the growing importance of recognizing and responding to the needs of transfer students,” Phi Theta Kappa President and CEO Dr. Lynn Tincher-Ladner said. “This award is given to four-year colleges and universities with proven outcomes for transfer success. They are the best at providing a supportive and smooth transition from community college — equating to increased rates of bachelor’s degree attainment for transfer students.”

Belhaven University was included with other prestigious colleges and universities such as Arizona State University, Dallas Baptist University, Mississippi State University, Rollins College, University of Arizona, and University of Illinois.

This distinguished honor is awarded to the top 25% of four-year colleges who earned the highest Transfer Friendliness Ratings. Potential students use Phi Theta Kappa’s online tool PTK Connect to find their best-fit colleges, career pathways, and more. They can search for colleges by name, scholarship offerings, or cost, and they can use the Transfer Friendly Ratings to help evaluate where they would like to enroll.

Phi Theta Kappa is the premier honor society recognizing the academic achievement of students at associate degree-granting colleges and helping them to grow as scholars and leaders. The Society is made up of more than 3.5 million members and nearly 1,300 chapters in 10 nations.


Belhaven University was named a 2020-2021 Military Friendly School for its long history of supporting the U.S. Military in their pursuit of higher education.

Now in its 11th year, this award honors top colleges and universities in the country that are doing the most to embrace America’s military service members, veterans, and spouses. The list provides a comprehensive guide to institutions that foster success on campus and after graduation, and set the standard for providing the best opportunities.

Institutions were selected based on student retention, graduation, job placement, loan repayment, persistence, and loan default rates for all students.

Belhaven University’s Adult and Graduate programs were recognized for their flexible formats, incentives, and financial aid options for military. Belhaven University Online was also acknowledged for its mobility, giving military the option to attend class from anywhere in the world.

Methodology, criteria, and weightings were determined by VIQTORY with input from the Military Friendly Advisory Council of independent leaders in the higher education and military recruitment community.