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belmont abbey

belmont abbey

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Published by: Center for the Study of Catholic Higher Ed on Sep 02, 2009
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The Newman Guide

Benedictine monks migrated from Pennsylva- nia to Gaston County in south central North Carolina in 1876 and began an education min- istry that eventually became Belmont Abbey

College in 1913. It \ue000rst granted bachelor\u2019s de-
grees in 1952 and became coed 20 years later.

For most of its existence, the college was a base for quiet evangelization in the midst of the Protestant Bible Belt. Today, it is moving outward a bit more aggressively as the college grows in size and appeals to more students outside the region and increasingly the na- tion.

The locale is compelling and o\ue002ers an op-
portunity for Belmont Abbey to a\ue005ract broad-

er interest in a rapidly growing area. Situated in the small town of Belmont, with a popula- tion of about 9,200 people, the college is only

10 miles west of Charlo\ue005e, North Carolina\u2019s
largest city; the impressive urban skyline is
very prominent from the campus.
Charlo\ue005e\u2019s population has nearly dou-

bled since 1980, and it is today a major bank- ing center and the epicenter of the booming NASCAR motor sport industry. Belmont Ab- bey has taken advantage of its location by, among other things, establishing a unique undergraduate concentration in motor sports management.

But what distinguishes the college is a revitalized commitment to its Catholic and Benedictine roots, as evidenced by a national advertising campaign called \u201cGot Monks?\u201d, which began in October 2006. This has been only one of the initiatives launched by Dr.

Belmont Abbey College
Belmont, North Carolina
quick facts

Type of institution: Small liberal arts college
Setting:Subur ban
Undergraduate enrollment: 1,496 (2008\u201309

academic year)
Undergraduate cost: $30,304 (tuition, room
and board for 2009\u201310)
Undergraduate majors:2 0
five key Points
1.\ue000The presence of the Abbey ensures
a strong Benedictine in\ue000uence and
promotes strong Catholic identity.
2.\ue000A 59-credit core curriculum provides a
foundation in the liberal arts.
3.\ue000Establishing national visibility through
the Envoy Institute and other programs.
4.\ue000Most students major in business-
related felds or education.
5.\ue000Emphasis on sports as training in
character and virtue.
Belmont Abbey College
The Newman Guide
William Thierfelder, who became college
president in 2004.

Dr. Thierfelder, a sports psychologist and former college All-American high jumper and Olympian, has established his priorities as strengthening the college\u2019s Catholic identi- ty, emphasizing its academic credentials and promoting athletic opportunities.

Some of these enhancements are em-
bodied in an impressive strategic plan with

three components: Catholic and Bene- dictine goals, liberal arts programs, and

e\ue002orts to improve

overall \u201cexcellence and virtue.\u201d Prog- ress has been consid- erable on the plan, which was launched in 2005.

One result of the advertising cam- paign and the overall strengthening of the college is a 34 per- cent increase in total

enrollment from fall 2006 to fall 2008. Much of this growth has occurred in the college\u2019s adult degree program, along with an impres- sive 10 percent enrollment increase among traditional-aged (18- to 22-year-old) students in 2008-09 over the previous year.

Although 68 percent of traditional stu- dents are from North Carolina, during this past academic year students came from 34 states and 26 countries as the college expands its appeal. One growing class of students are homeschooled; President Thierfelder and his wife homeschool their own children, and he frequently speaks to homeschooling groups.

About 53 percent of the students are tra- ditional. The college also provides evening and weekend classes in its Adult Degree Pro- gram; this is a rapidly growing group, which

included 701 students in the 2008\u201309 academic year. These non-traditional students, similar to the traditional ones, are most concentrated in business and education majors. The college does not have a graduate program.

There are 20 majors o\ue002ered, most of which
are common programs. About 40 percent of
traditional students major in business and re-
lated \ue000elds and another 20 percent major in

education. Among the less common majors and concentra- tions are sports ma nagement and the motor sports manage- ment program, which includes four courses in ma nagement and marketing as well as an in- ternship. There is a theology ma- jor.

Students be-
come acclimated

to Benedictine values through a First Year Symposium and end their work with a capstone Great Books course four years later.

The cost of a\ue005ending Belmont Abbey is

well below average private-college tuition in North Carolina. The total for tuition, room and board in 2009-10 was $30,304, and 90 per-

cent of students receive some sort of \ue000nan-
cial aid. Belmont Abbey o\ue002ers a variety of

merit-based aid such as stipends for honors students, the Felix Hintemeyer Scholarship for student leadership and the Sport at the Service of the Spirit Scholarship.

Belmont Abbey College is run by the South-
ern Benedictine Society, which consists of
Belmont Abbey College
The Newman Guide

two separately incorporated entities, Belmont Abbey monastery and the college, which is lo- cated on the monastery\u2019s property.

The abbot of the monastery is always the chancellor of the college and responsible for maintaining the school\u2019s Catholic identity. A set number of seats on the board of trustees are reserved for the monks. The \u201cTen Hall- marks of Benedictine Education\u201d are promi- nently displayed in every classroom and throughout the campus.

Abbot Placid Solari, O.S.B., who has been abbot since 1999, is a former president and dean of the college. He is currently chancel- lor of the college and interviews all full-time college hires. The abbot, who is a theologian with a degree in patristics, has strongly and consistently supported the implementation of

Ex corde Ecclesiae.
The abbot also is a member of the college
board of trustees, which is largely a lay board
including many Charlo\ue005e area businesspeo-
ple. Of the 35-member board, \ue000ve are monks,
one is a Sister of Mercy, one is a Christian
Brother and one is the chancellor and vicar
general of the Diocese of Charlo\ue005e.

Dr. Thierfelder, a lifelong devout Catho- lic, was president of York Barbell Company before assuming the presidency of the col-

lege \ue000ve years ago. He and his wife, Mary, are
Benedictine oblates, lay followers of The Rule
of St. Benedict and have nine children.
Public Identity

At the heart of Belmont Abbey College is its Benedictine identity, sustained by 18 monks at the Abbey. There is an atmosphere steeped in the Rule of St. Benedict and the values that

it re\ue001ects. According to Abbot Placid in a

spring 2007 interview in the college\u2019s alumni magazine,Cro s sro a d s, the Benedictine heri- tage \u201censures that the educational approach

established and maintained here re\ue001ects the
Catholic intellectual tradition.\u201d
This commitment is re\ue001ected in various

college documents, including the mission and vision statements. A new mission state- ment adopted by the board of trustees in 2007 states: \u201cOur mission is to educate students in the liberal arts and sciences so that in all

things God may be glori\ue000ed.\u201d
From the
Financial Aid Office

\u201cAt Belmont Abbey College, we work with you and your family to provide practical solutions that will enable you to obtain an authentically Catholic higher educa-

tion in an a\ue002ordable way.

\u201cIn coming to a college begun by Bene- dictine monks\u2014a group founded by St. Benedict 1,500 years ago\u2014you would be- come part of a long tradition of learning and holiness.

\u201cWe have many scholarship opportuni-
ties that will help to make a\ue005ending col-

lege possible for you. If you are strong academically, you may want to apply for an Honors Fellowship. If you are inter- ested in becoming a Catholic leader, you may be eligible for a Hintemeyer award. If you are talented in drama, you are a \u2018natural\u2019 for our John Oetegen Excellence in Theatre Scholarship. If you are athleti-

cally gi\ue004ed, you may be eligible for an
athletic grant.
\u201cWe also o\ue002er many other generous merit
packages. More than 90 percent of our
students receive \ue000nancial aid.

\u201cPlease visit our website: www.bac.edu and check our Financial Aid and Scholar- ship section to see what awards you are eligible for. We look forward to welcom- ing you to our beautiful campus!\u201d

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