Belmont University is a private, coeducational, liberal arts university located in Nashville, Tennessee, United States. It is the largest Christian university in Tennessee and the second largest private university in the state.
In addition to the music and music business programs, Belmont offers a full range of majors and programs that extend outside of class. Belmont and HCA created a health sciences consortium with local universities to alleviate the shortage of nurses and health care professionals in the local community. The entrepreneurship program was named the 2008 National Model Entrepreneurship Program, and provides students with shared office space and mentoring from faculty, local entrepreneurs and attorneys. New Century Journalism students have gained work experience at The Oprah Winfrey Show, The Daily Show, CBS Evening News, and British Broadcasting Corp.
Besides having three professional quality recording studios on campus, Belmont owns The Belmont Studios (formerly known as Ocean Way Nashville), part of which is operated for-profit (for the likes of Dave Matthews, Sheryl Crow, and Bob Seger), and part of which is used by students. Belmont also operates historic RCA Studio B (formerly used by Elvis Presley, Roy Orbison, and Dolly Parton), in conjunction with the Country Music Hall of Fame and the Curb Family Foundation. In addition, the music business program operates Belmont West and Belmont East, which enable students to spend a semester learning about and interning in the entertainment industries in Los Angeles and New York City, respectively.
Belmont also houses the Curb Event Center, a 5000-seat multi-purpose arena, which is used for basketball games, concerts, and other events like the 2006 and 2007 CMT Awards, and the upcoming 2008 Presidential Debate. The facility is connected to the Beaman Student Life Center and Maddox Grand Atrium—collectively, a $52 million development.
Notable supporters of Belmont include Mike Curb (substantial donor/namesake of CEMB and Curb Event Center/founder and head of Curb Records), Jack C. Massey (substantial donor to and namesake of BU's business building and graduate business program, former head of Kentucky Fried Chicken and a founder of Hospital Corporation of America), and Vince Gill (country music artist whose annual charity event has raised thousands in scholarship money).
The school has an ongoing basketball rivalry with Lipscomb University and currently plays them at least twice per year on a home-and-home basis (even more frequently in some years) in games nicknamed the "Battle of the Boulevard". In 2006, likely the most important Battle of the Boulevard game to date was played. With both teams battling for their first-ever NCAA Tournament berths, the Belmont Bruins nipped Lipscomb in overtime to win the Atlantic Sun conference championship 74-69. The Belmont Bruins were seeded 15th in the 2006 NCAA Tournament, losing in the first round to the UCLA Bruins.
In 2007, Belmont won the Atlantic Sun Conference championship for the second year in a row, defeating East Tennessee State University in Johnson City 94-67. The Bruins continued to the NCAA Tournament for the second consecutive year, losing in the first round to the Georgetown Hoyas.
In 2008 The Bruins advanced for the third straight year to the NCAA Tournament, again earning a 15 seed against the #2 seeded Duke Blue Devils. Belmont had their best tournament showing ever in this game, falling short by a score of 71-70 to the Blue Devils, nearly pulling off an incredible upset.
On November 19, 2007, The Commission on Presidential Debates officially chose Belmont University to host one of three Presidential election debates on October 7, 2008. President Bob Fisher gave a press conference on November 19 announcing the news, expressing great excitement towards the opportunity to be a part of something so historical. He added: "It is an amazing honor, a tremendous responsibility and a fantastic opportunity for all of us. We will be privileged to see the frontlines of the political process and engage with a vast array of professionals and scholars, all while witnessing the significant benefits this event will have on our university and the local Nashville community." Belmont was chosen out of sixteen finalists. The Debate at Belmont is different from the others in that it is a "town-hall" style debate. In a Town-Hall debate, questions are fielded from the audience.
In 2005 Belmont's Board of Trustees sought to remove Belmont University from the control of the Tennessee Baptist Convention while remaining in a "fraternal relationship" with it. Advocates of this plan presented a blueprint for change in which all board members would be Christians but only 60 percent would be Baptists in order to affirm a Christian affinity while acknowledging the diversity of both the faculty and the student body. The head of the TBC would continue to be an ex officio board member. The TBC rejected this plan.
In November 2005 The Tennessean reported that the TBC would increase its funding of two other institutions, Union University and Carson-Newman College by the amount previously given to Belmont and Belmont would replace the three percent of its budget that was funded by the TBC; this announcement seemed to mark the end of the matter. However, on April 7, 2006 The Tennessean reported that the TBC would seek to oust the existing board and replace it with one consisting entirely of Southern Baptists and amenable to ongoing TBC control.
After settlement talks failed, the Tennessee Baptist Convention Executive Board filed a lawsuit on September 29, 2006 against Belmont seeking the return of approximately $58,000,000.
On November 14, 2007, Nashville media reported that a settlement of this suit had been reached before trial. Under its terms, the TBC and Belmont would disaffiliate amicably, with Belmont agreeing to pay one million dollars to the convention immediately, and $250,000 annually for the next forty years, for a total cost of $11,000,000. The University has stated its intent to maintain a Christian identity, but no longer a specifically Baptist one.