A shock announcement by the Watkins College of Art of its intention to merge with Nashville’s Belmont University by the Fall of 2020 has been followed by a news report that Belmont will purge Watkins faculty who do not practice the Christian faith.
“We do not hire people who are not Christian,” said Belmont provost Thomas Burns during a town hall meeting on Wednesday that was first reported by website artnet.com and reporter Erica Ciccarone of the Nashville Scene. “The (Watkins employees) who are not Christian will not be eligible to work at Belmont,” he continued. “That’s just part of who we are.”
Belmont made national news in 2010 when women’s soccer coach Lisa Howe was forced to resign after announcing that she was a lesbian and would be having a child with her longtime partner. Ten years later, Belmont now has a nondiscrimination policy covering all students, including LGBTQ+ and non-Christian students, but continues to adhere to policy requiring all faculty to be of the Christian faith.
There is concern that Belmont University officials will require Watkins College students to adhere to Belmont’s conservative guidelines regarding artistic presentation, according to the reports, and enforce a religious studies requirement that is mandatory for Belmont students. While acknowledging the strides Belmont University has made in regard to LGBTQ+ students, many of the same expressed concern going forward at the town hall meeting.
For the full story from artnet.com, please click here. For a video of the Belmont town hall meeting, courtesy of the Nashville Scene, see below: