Author Archives: bethelu

Press Release: Police Chief Rausch Supports Education for Criminal Justice Professionals; Cites Benefits to Police Department, Community

Chief David RauschKnoxville, TN – Bethel University received recognition this week for the role its criminal justice programs have played in recent improvements in the Knoxville Police Department. Police Chief David Rausch, head of the KPD, wrote that there has been a significant decrease in officer response to resistance, also known as “use of force,” and remarked on its link to education.

“The importance of education in the law enforcement setting could not be more significant than during these very trying times in our profession,” Rausch stated. “As we have studied the cause of these declines, we have noted one factor that cannot be overlooked  — the impact of education on decision-making.” Continue reading

Healthier Tennessee, Healthier Bethel

Tennesseans have many things to be proud of. Being healthy is not one of them.

In fact, according to the Centers for Disease Control, we are one of the least healthy states, and have been for the last 20 years. As a result, we’re now facing an epidemic of preventable chronic diseases, including diabetes, heart disease, obesity and even some forms of cancer.

That’s where “Healthier Tennessee” comes in, and where the College of Professional Studies can get involved. The movement, spearheaded by Gov. Bill Haslam and managed by local communities, encourages all Tennesseans — including schools and workplaces — to make some simple choices that can create some big differences.

In conjunction with Mayor McMillian's "Clarkswell" initiative, PR Director Cindy Chambers was invited to represent Bethel University on Public Square. 

In conjunction with Mayor McMillian’s “Clarkswell” initiative, PR Director Cindy Chambers was invited to represent Bethel University on Public Square.

PR Director Cindy Chambers is among those determined to “Start Small” to grow stronger. She went to the Small Starts online toolbox and found an easy-to-use website that includes activities to help workplaces develop better habits while tracking progress toward certification. There are more than 60 small starts choices that employees can choose from, and the Clarksville campus is now just two checkmarks away from success.

Megan Carroll, a state healthcare specialist, showed participating employees Sylvana Matthews, Cindy Chambers, Terry Morris, and Lisa Davidson easy ways to reduce stress and make healthier lifestyle choices.

Megan Carroll, a state healthcare specialist, showed participating employees Sylvana Matthews, Cindy Chambers, Terry Morris, and Lisa Davidson easy ways to reduce stress and make healthier lifestyle choices.

“Our campus has made some positive changes, and we hope that our efforts will motivate others to give it a try,” she says. “Just hosting an office potluck with healthful food options increases awareness of our workplace choices – without sacrificing the quality of our workdays. Setting fitness goals, encouraging smoking cessation, and monitoring progress are all small steps toward a brighter and healthier future.”

To get started as an individual or a group, go to:

Trisha Farmer: Electing New Challenges Despite a Busy Life

It’s not uncommon for a Bethel Success student to juggle multiple roles as employee, parent, and student.  It is, however, unusual for a Bethel student to do all of those things – and run for a seat as a State Representative on top of everything else.

Meet Trisha Farmer of Mt. Juliet: wife, mother, business-owner, volunteer birthing advocate, Bethel Success student, and now, hard-working candidate for the office of State House District 57.

“It wasn’t something I had planned on,” Trisha admits. “Our lives are far too complicated and busy to think about politics.” But when Trisha, who is deeply involved in the non-profit advocacy group Nashville Birth Network, learned there were bills coming up that the group was advocating for, she decided to meet with her State Representative to discuss them.

“And I quickly I realized we had nothing in common,” she says. Trisha did her due diligence, and discovered that “there were bills she had supported that were unconstitutional, and her positions are not representative of the people in our district. Her campaign contributions and her finances were a mess, flooded with donors from special interests. I was really frustrated. And when I learned she was running for reelection unopposed, I knew I had a responsibility to run against her.”

“It was very organic, and maybe – just maybe —  a little impulsive” she says with a smile. “But we’re going to win.”

A winning attitude is what led Trisha and husband David to go back to college to complete their bachelor’s degrees.

Trisha and David Farmer

Trisha and her husband, David

“I wanted to return to a corporate role, and my lack of a degree was holding me back,” she says. “David has worked for local government for over 10 years, and the completion of his degree will provide opportunities for enhanced  leadership roles.”  The couple needed the assurance and knowledge that comes with a bachelor’s degree. After researching a competing college, and learning about its unreasonable time commitment, the couple knew they had to find a program that worked for their busy lifestyles. In November of 2014, David and Trisha discovered Bethel.

Believing “it’s easier for us to suffer together,” the couple has spent long nights doing homework after sons Tyler, 6, and Grayson, 2, are finally put to bed.  David, who brought in more credits, lacks only six hours to graduate, and has earned straight A’s so far.  As for Trisha, with four months to go until the November 8 election, grades have become a little less important, while the learning she gains has increased exponentially.

“I wish I had taken the Systems class a little earlier,” she says with a laugh. “It would have helped a lot as we began to plan our strategy.” Now, with 47,000 registered voters in the District to reach, and an estimated 20,000 doors in need of knocking, Trisha is firm about the possibilities of having it all.

“If anyone thinks they don’t have time to go to college, I say look at us. We both have fulltime jobs, stay involved in our community, are raising our sons, and running a campaign – all while finishing up our degrees. If we can do it, anybody can.”

For more information, or to donate to Trisha’s campaign, go to

Trisha Farmer campaign photo


Tennessee Highway Patrol To Begin Accepting Applications For New Trooper Cadet Class

NASHVILLE –- The Tennessee Highway Patrol (THP) is announcing it will soon begin accepting applications for the next Trooper Cadet Academy.  Men and women interested in a career as a state trooper can begin the application process online only, beginning at 12:01 a.m. on Wednesday, August 3, through 11:59 p.m. Tuesday, August 16.

The THP anticipates the agility test and interview appointments to begin mid-September, at the Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security Training Center.  Individuals interested in applying for the position of state trooper must be at least 21 years old, a U.S. Citizen and have a high school diploma or equivalent.  No applicants with felony convictions will be considered.

Legislation enacted in October 2012, called the Tennessee Excellence, Accountability and Management Act (TEAM Act), revised the hiring method to incorporate an interview process that tests an applicant’s knowledge, skills, abilities and competencies.   As a result, selected applicants will be required to successfully pass the physical agility test prior to being admitted for an interview.  There is no longer an examination portion to qualify for the state trooper position.

If hired, individuals must obtain a valid Tennessee driver’s license prior to class start date January 28, 2017, and are required to successfully complete a Level II background investigation, which includes a credit check and polygraph test.  Recruits must also pass a psychological and medical examination, including a drug screening.

Those interested in and qualified for the position of state trooper should submit an employment application to the Tennessee Department of Human Resources.  All applicants must apply online at beginning at 12:01 a.m. on Wednesday, August 3.  Applications will not be accepted after August 16.  Once approved by the Department of Human Resources, applicants will be notified of their qualification status via email.

There are currently 621 authorized commissioned trooper positions within the THP.  Trooper cadets will be assigned to vacant positions across the state upon graduation.  The starting salary for a trooper cadet during the training academy is $2,859 per month.

Upon graduation and commissioning as a Tennessee state trooper, the salary will increase to $3,163 per month and include a pension plan, health insurance and paid holidays.  Troopers are also provided a uniform, equipment and patrol vehicles.  With regular pay increases, a state trooper can earn $56,412 per year after 10 years of service under the current pay structure.

For additional information on becoming a state trooper, visit

For more information about applications, interested individuals are encouraged to contact the Tennessee Department of Human Resources Applicant Services Division at (615) 741-4841.

The Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security’s (www.TN.Gov/safety) mission is to serve, secure, and protect the people of Tennessee.

CONTACT: Megan Buell,

Lt. Bill Miller,

OFFICE: 615-251-5131


Toastmasters International hosts demonstration meeting in Paris

Toastmasters Logo Color PNG

By Cindy Chambers

Sponsored by Bethel University, free event is open to public

Paris, TN— In keeping with Bethel University’s Mission Statement of creating “opportunities for members of the learning community to develop to their highest potential as whole persons,” the university is forming a Toastmasters Club that will meet at the nearby Paris campus.

Toastmasters International is the world’s oldest and largest communication and leadership organization, with more than 332,000 members in 135 countries. Far more than just a place to give speeches, members receive valuable feedback, lead teams, and guide others to achieve their goals in a fun, supportive atmosphere.

“Studies show that public speaking is American’s #2 fear,” says the group’s co-founder, Bethel University College of Professional Studies PR Director Cindy Chambers. “Whether you get weak in the knees when you get up to speak, or are already a confident public speaker, Toastmasters is a great organization. It’s affordable, meets just twice a month, and helps leaders learn and grow in a supportive atmosphere.” The new club will meet at noon on alternate Thursdays.

The public is invited to bring a lunch, meet new friends, and see how Toastmasters builds confident leaders during a free, no-obligation Toastmasters Demonstration Meeting at Bethel University’s Paris campus, 302 Tyson Ave., Room 210, Thursday, June 23, from noon – 1:00. Space is limited. To RSVP for this life-changing event, email Cassie Pence at

Dr. Arrita Summers: Committed to Success

By Cindy Chamber, PR Director

Dr. Summers graduation dayDr. Arrita Summers is living proof that learning – combined with commitment and a drive to succeed – will take you anywhere you want to go.

Recalling her early years, the former Navy Brat says she’s “from a bit of from everywhere.” But after a childhood spent moving all over the country, her father’s retirement led the family to settle near Fort Campbell.

Arrita’s last 34 years have been spent in the Middle Tennessee area, and her soft Southern accent suggests she’s found her way home.

Driven to succeed from a very young age, Arrita earned her cosmetology license while still in high school. Although she applied to two colleges — and received full scholarships to both — life had other plans. She married, worked as a hairdresser until she was 24, and then enrolled in a cosmetology instructor program in Paris. It was there she found her niche. When the cosmetology instructor retired from the Tennessee College of Applied Technology in Dickson, she was hired to head it up. Little did she know that she would someday serve as the director of the college, overseeing satellite campuses in Ashland City, Clarksville, Franklin, and Dickson, while managing 14 full-time and special-industry programs.

As a teacher, she knew first-hand that education was the key to continued growth. So, despite a challenging job and three young children at home, Arrita enrolled at Volunteer State Community College, where she earned a degree in General Technology in 2003. “I gained a lot of skills there, and that proved helpful,” she recalls. “But I desired to move into an administrative position, and I knew I needed a bachelor’s degree.”

That’s when she learned about Bethel’s Management and Organizational Development program.

“Since I was raising a family and working full time, quickly transitioning from an associate degree to a bachelor’s was appealing to me,” she says. Shortly after enrolling in the one-night-a-week program in Nashville, she was offered a position in recruiting and campus coordination at TCAT. Bethel’s accelerated format made it possible to juggle professional, educational and personal responsibilities without missing a beat.

“I really loved the Bethel program. Another young lady I worked with enrolled with me, so I had the advantage of not only being with a strong cohort group, but having a friend to share the experience with,” she says. She and Arrita graduated from what was then Bethel College in August of 2005. Her entire family was supportive of the commitment.

“My children knew I had married young and never really taken the opportunity to fulfill my academic dreams. During my course of study, they were very understanding and patient,” she recalls. “My husband Ron worked nights, but did his part to help oversee a lot of the kids’ activities, and we’d pitch in to cook dinner together. There were lots of volleyball and football games where I would sit with a textbook in my lap!”

When the position of assistant director opened up at the Tennessee College of Applied Technology in Nashville, Arrita jumped at the chance for more responsibility — and more learning.

“Tennessee State wasn’t far away, so I enrolled in their year-long master’s program in Educational Administration and Supervision,” she says. As a student, she saw others struggling with the depth and pace of instruction. But Bethel, she says, “left me very well prepared for the rigors of graduate work.”

Graduating in 2007, she went right into TSU’s doctoral program in Educational Administration, earning her EdD in 2013. It was the culmination of a lifetime of commitment.

Now back in Dickson for a full year, Dr. Summers says she’s “come full circle.”

“I’ve been with the TCAT system since 1994. Now I’m back home and really enjoying the fact that, through my education, I gained more knowledge that led me from teaching, to student services, to administration, to being director of the college. Bethel is really the gateway that made those things happen.”

But she admits it wasn’t always an easy journey.

“If I’d had to complete a traditional four-year bachelor’s degree, I would never have gotten to the doctoral level. Going from my associate to my doctorate took 14 years from beginning to end. That’s a long time to stay committed to a goal, and it sounds easier in retrospect than it was at the time. It definitely had its moments,” she says with a smile, “but it was well worth the effort.”

Last year, former TBR Chancellor John Morgan praised Dr. Summers’ work as “influential and significant,” writing that she “expressed her commitment to student success, and we expect to see that commitment reflected in her leadership.”

Indeed, commitment is critical to success, as Dr. Summers has proved. Commitment – and educational opportunities designed to help make that journey to success just a little bit easier.


Brittney Bowen: Stretching for Success

By Cindy Chambers

Student Spotlight Picture 1  Few of us can remember being so small we had to climb into a chair, or couldn’t reach a faucet, or had to ask for help grabbing an item from a grocery store shelf. But for 26-year-old Bethel Success student Brittney Bowen, every day stretches her to overcome such challenges. An achondroplasic dwarf, Brittney is 3’ 9” tall — the height of an average 3 ½-year-old. But the little person with big goals is as bold as they come. She sees every challenge as an opportunity – to include earning her bachelor’s degree at Bethel.

I first met Brittney last spring, when I was in the throes of moving from one house to another. Rushing to a Clarksville furniture store for a needed sofa, Brittney approached me with a bright smile and the easy demeanor of a natural salesperson. When she saw the Bethel t-shirt I was wearing, she said she’d been considering enrolling for quite some time.

Needless to say, we both sold something that day – I got a new couch, and Brittney got a new start on an even brighter future.

Adopted at birth by a family of little people in Springfield, TN, Brittney never let her stature get in the way of her dreams. After graduating from high school in 2009, she enrolled in Pellissippi State Community College, majoring in general studies while balancing a part-time job. She transferred to Western Kentucky University in 2010, majoring first in Family Consumer Science Education, then Communication Studies, and then back to Consumer Science. Like most young people, Brittney just wasn’t sure what she would do when she grew up.

But after a stint at Volunteer State Community College, she was hired to work at the furniture store where we met. A sales representative for nearly three years, she finally found her calling in customer service and PR. But the road hasn’t been an easy one.

“I’ve faced a lot of challenges in the workforce,” she says. “A lot of doors close because of my size.” But Brittney takes it in stride, saying, “When I go in for the interview, some people just can’t handle it. That means I’m not a good fit for the company. But it also means they’ll never see what I can do.”

Having recently instructed Brittney in a marketing class, I know it’s their loss. Engaged and engaging, she’s bright, motivated, and excited about the coursework.

“Of course, some classes are more challenging than others,” she says. “My favorites are the ones that deal with selling, marketing, and building relationships. The more I learn, the more motivated I become. I want to help people help themselves.”

It’s a lesson she’s learned first-hand.

Now living completely on her own, she’s had to adapt to a big world. Her father made pedal extensions for her car, and she navigates through life with an independent spirit and a positive attitude.

Due to her condition, she had 18 surgeries by the age of 18, including three major operations on her back; nine ear drum reconstructions; and the removal of her gall bladder, adenoids, and tonsils. Despite these physical setbacks, she’s dedicated to staying in shape, and works out religiously.

“Since I’m about half the size of most people, I can only eat half as much food — one cookie for you is two cookies for me. So I have to be very careful about my diet,” she says. “I feel like if I’m very heavy, it’s one more thing working against me … one more thing that people can judge me on. Some little people are intimidated by going to the gym because the workout machines aren’t compatible, and due to my spinal fusion, I’m very limited.  But I have to make the best of what I have.”

She continues, “As far as challenges, I admit there are issues, but it’s not like I can’t find my way around them. At Kroger, I might have to walk two aisles over to find someone to help me reach something. But I’m completely independent,” she says proudly.

She dreams of marrying and having children, and hopes to adopt someday.

“A lot of little people actually die due to pregnancy. Really, as far as I’m concerned,” she says, “it’s whatever God has planned.”

Set to graduate in 2017, she’ll climb the stairs to the stage the way she has done everything in life – with a bright smile and an huge sense of accomplishment. After all, Brittney Bowen may be small, but her dreams are as big as they come.

Student Spotlight: Michael Pope-It’s all About Helping Others

Bethel Blue BlogBy Cindy Chambers

A career fair in 1987 changed everything for Michael Pope.Then a junior Accounting major at the University of Memphis, Michael had been planning a career as a stockbroker. But there was something different, something better about law enforcement. Michael moved swiftly from table to table at the career fair, applying for every department in the field.A few months later, the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office called, offering him a position as a deputy jailer. And from that point on, Michael says, “I never looked back.”

He knew he had found his calling. Despite his youth, he was able to serve as a role model and mentor to those who needed guidance. He had an opportunity to help, and a chance to make a difference.After serving as a deputy jailer for seven years, he was promoted to sergeant. By July of 1994, he was named Deputy Sheriff. Now married, his steady career progression gave him the life he’d always wanted. But one thing was missing: a college degree.

As he planned his next upward move, he knew that obtaining an undergraduate degree was critical to his success. “The commander of the jail kept telling me, ‘Go to school, go to school,’” he remembers. Michael listened, he did his homework, and he chose Bethel’s Criminal Justice program.Bethel Blue Blog 2

“I was working for Metro DUI at the time, and did all the sobriety checkpoints. I worked on holidays. I had no time to sit in the classroom,” he says. Bethel gave him an opportunity to fit school into his life, and real-life experience into his learning. In 2013, Michael Pope received a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice with a 3.3 GPA – all while balancing a challenging job and a growing family.

Not long after, he read a statistic that indicated only 8% of the population had a graduate degree. “And I knew I wanted to be in that 8%,” he says with a smile. So, after just a four-month break, he plunged right into Bethel’s Master of Science degree in Criminal Justice, graduating last December with a nearly perfect 3.9 GPA.

As a two-time veteran of Bethel University, Michael praises both the curriculum and the instructors.

“The facilitators were all very encouraging. They were willing to share information above and beyond the coursework, and they had real-world experience, as well as textbook knowledge,” he says. “I learned so many things, especially in the field of Human Resources. I learned to understand people better, both inside and outside the criminal justice system. Everyone in law enforcement has a chance to work with folks from all walks of life. But the classroom gave me a better, broader perspective.”

When asked if he ever shares information about the Bethel program with others, Michael laughs.“Let me tell you something – I’ve recruited about 20 or 30 people, and they’ve all followed my footsteps into the master’s program. “

Today Michael is a lieutenant who serves as the Criminal Court Division Commander in the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office. Among other responsibilities, he oversees the daily operations of the criminal courts, acting as spokesperson for the division while reporting his findings to the upper command staff. The position, he says, gives him an opportunity to demonstrate his abilities as a leader and problem-solver.

“At the end of the day, it’s all about helping others,” he says. And, along the way, Bethel helped him do that even better.

Bethel Announces partnership with TN College of Applied Technology

TCAT Social MediaBethel University’s College of Professional Studies Vice President Kelly Sanders-Kelley announced an agreement today that will make it easier for graduates of Tennessee College of Applied Technology in Clarksville or Dickson to transfer to Bethel to complete their bachelor’s degrees in Organizational Leadership or Management & Organizational Development.

Area TCAT Director Dr. Arrita Summers stated that the academic partnership “demonstrates our commitment to promoting continued education to Tennessee adults.” The partnership, she said, saves students time and money, while putting highly educated individuals into the workplace at an increased rate. “Together, we are working towards meeting the governor’s Drive to 55 goal to see 55% of Tennesseans possess a postsecondary certificate or degree by the year 2025. TCAT Dickson is pleased to be an educational partner with Bethel University,” Summers said.

The articulation agreement allows seamless transfer of credits for TCAT students who have completed the Administrative Office Technology program with a concentration in Medical Administrative Assistance, Accounting Assistant, or Administrative Assistant. Transfer students in good standing can bring in up to 30 credit hours for classes completed at TCAT.

“This is a truly exciting partnership,” said Gina Willis, Director of Recruitment for Bethel’s College of Professional Studies. “Both Bethel and TCAT prepare graduates to thrive in today’s competitive professional environment. We look forward to offering incoming students the personal care and relevant curriculum that Bethel University is known for.”

One of the oldest private institutions in Tennessee, Bethel University is also one of the fastest-growing universities in the South. In addition to being designated a “Military Friendly” school for 2016, Bethel was recently ranked 2nd in the nation in the list of Best Online Christian Liberal Arts Colleges, based on academic merit, acceptance and graduation rates, enrollment and retention.

To learn more about Bethel University’s College of Professional Studies programs, go to, or contact Terry Morris at (931) 449.9310 or


Bethel University named best online school in Tennessee in 2015-16 survey


Bethel University was named the top accredited online school in Tennessee for the 2015-2016 school year. recently analyzed data from hundreds of colleges across the nation with online degrees at the bachelor’s level. The goal was to discover which colleges offer the most notable balances of academic rigor, student support, and affordability for online learning – and Bethel University topped the list.

“We are thrilled with the ranking, which includes vital data that every college student should take into account when choosing a university,” said Kelly Sanders-Kelley, Executive Vice President of Bethel’s College of Professional Studies.  “Moreover, coming on the heels of other recent awards — to include Best Criminal Justice Program in Tennessee, and 2nd in the nation in’s list of Best Online Christian Liberal Arts Colleges – the ranking confirms what we have always believed:  Bethel does things right.”

“To have a nationally known and very respected agency like Accredited Schools Online independently rank our Online Programs as Number 1 in Tennessee is a huge honor for Bethel University,” said the school’s President, Dr. Walter Butler.  “We strive to be the best, and this lets us know that others think we are the best.  I thank our faculty and staff for their hard work in this achievement, and I know it further shows why so many students in our Volunteer State are choosing Bethel University to further their education online.  We are proud to be a part of higher education to our citizens of Tennessee.”

To determine the rankings, data analysts and college experts developed a proprietary scoring system to rank these colleges based on various cost-to-quality criteria and metrics, or the ASO Peer-Based Value. This proprietary metric compares qualitative aspects of colleges with similar costs against the tuition of colleges with similar quality metrics. The general criteria and scoring metrics include the student-faculty ratio; not-for-profit status; the number of online bachelor’s degrees available; the online tuition rate; the loan default rate; the six-year graduation rate; and job placement and career counseling for graduates.

Over 55,000 Tennessee college students are currently taking at least one online course, according to a recent study by the Babson Survey Research Group.

“We wanted to recognize schools that are implementing convenient and cutting-edge technological learning opportunities to all students,” said Doug Jones, CEO and Founder of Accredited Schools Online. “These schools are not only offering exceptional programs, but they have expanded their program excellence to the much-desired online environment.”

Headquartered in McKenzie, Tenn., Bethel University offers a variety of degree programs, both on campus, in a traditional format, and online.  It is one of the oldest private institutions in Tennessee, and among the fastest-growing universities in the South. To learn more about Bethel University’s College of Professional Studies programs, both on-campus and online, go to, or call 877-4BETHEL.