Category Archives: News and Information

Standout Student: Gregory Robinson

Gregory Robinson, Assistant Vice President and Chief of Police at Tennessee State University (TSU), has led a successful career in law enforcement for over 35 years. Throughout those years, Robinson has been recognized for his professional achievements on various occasions. To date, Robinson has added two additional honors to his résumé in the year 2019. Even more impressive, Robinson has earned these awards while also managing his responsibilities as a student in the Master of Science in Criminal Justice (MSCJ) program at Bethel University’s College of Professional Studies.

The first award presented to Robinson in 2019 was the Service Learning and Civic Engagement Award from his employer, TSU. This annual award is given to university faculty, staff members, or administrators commemorating their efforts in community service and service-learning.

The second, very prestigious award presented to Robinson this year was the International Association of Campus Law Enforcement Administrators (IACLEA) Award for Administrative Excellence. The award recognizes those who have implemented new ideas, cost-saving procedures, or management techniques within their departments. Robinson attributes his selection as the IACLEA Award winner primarily to his creation and implementation of an officer retention plan. The tactics incorporated in the retention plan assist in making officers feel appreciated and valued which, according to Robinson, has positively affected job performance. Additionally, there has been a 36% decrease in crime on the TSU campus since Robinson began his role at the university.

As Assistant Vice President and Chief of Police, Robinson has an immensely demanding career. He knew it would be nearly impossible to remain in his professional role and attend weekly classes due to his professional responsibilities and time restraints. The flexibility of the online MSCJ program provides a means for students, like Robinson, to continue working full-time while earning a degree simultaneously.  The program provides professionals with practical tools and skills that can be incorporated into the workplace “on a daily basis” according to Robinson.

“A lot of things that I have gained in my classes, I’ve used in my workplace,” Robinson stated. “For example, the material that I learned in one of my classes allowed me to put together a statistical presentation for our board, which provided a visual representation of the success that the department has had in crime reduction.” The MSCJ program is designed for law enforcement professionals, as well as those who are interested in furthering their careers in criminal justice and can be completed in as little as 19-23 months.

Robinson is projected to graduate from the MSCJ program in November of 2020. After graduating from Bethel University, he plans to continue his education by pursuing a doctoral degree.

For more information about the IACLEA Administrative Excellence Award, visit the IACLEA website at

If you or someone you know is interested in pursuing higher education while working full time, contact Lance Tasker at or 931-444-9864, or visit

Alumni Spotlight: Scott Conger

Scott Conger, a Bethel University Alumnus and the newly elected mayor of Jackson, Tenn., is widely known for his service to the local community. As a Jackson, Tenn. native, Conger has spent his career working towards the betterment of his hometown through his volunteer work and service as a board member for multiple education and economic boards within the region. Throughout his career, Conger has served as a board member for the Jackson Chamber, Jackson Downtown Development Corporation, and Area Relief Ministries among others. Conger will begin his term as mayor on July 1.

In addition to his role as mayor, Conger serves as president and CEO of United Way of West Tennessee, a nonprofit organization that “focuses on uniting people and resources to build a stronger, healthier community” according to the United Way website. The organization provides services such as disaster relief and Christmas assistance to the community. Conger has held this role since 2015. Preceding his current position, Conger served as a city councilman for the city of Jackson for six years.

The mayor-elect and CEO is a proud Bethel University Alumnus and currently serves on the Board of Trustees at Bethel University. Conger graduated with a Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree from Bethel University College of Professional Studies in 2012. Conger, who has an undergraduate degree in history, offered, “I knew if I wanted to do anything beyond my current role, I needed to get an MBA or graduate degree. I think everything that I’ve done since graduating has been, in part, because of my MBA from Bethel University.”

The Bethel University College of Professional Studies MBA program, which was named one of the top 25 executive MBA programs in the nation by College Consensus, can be completed online in as little as 19-23 months. Conger noted that the program is “very manageable” for working adults due to its online delivery which allows students to complete the program while working full-time. When asked if he had any advice for others who may be considering the possibility of furthering their education with an MBA from Bethel University, Conger responded, “Do it!”

If you would like to be featured in a future Alumni Spotlight, please fill out the alumni information card on the Bethel University website or send a detailed email highlighting your accomplishments to

Bethel University’s Online Executive MBA Program named one of the Top 25 in the nation

College Consensus has announced the 25 Best Online Executive MBA Programs in 2019 with Bethel University among exceptional company.

The programs are ranked according to three main criteria: Affordability, Convenience, and Reputation. Data was drawn from sources like U.S. News, the Economist, Businessweek, and the institution’s own published information combining the latest results from the most respected college ranking systems with thousands of real student review scores. 

In today’s competitive business environment, an MBA is the standard for professionals in a competitive business market who want to take on higher management positions and earn more pay.

The challenge is that busy working adults cannot always afford to take time away from work or put their career on hold to go back to school. Bethel’s College of Professional Studies Adult Degree Program’s motto is “we bring school back to you,” emphasizing how Bethel’s program is created around the student.

Online degree programs and Executive MBA programs have both been game-changing innovations for business education and putting them together is another level of convenience and speed. The editors of College Consensus explain that the online executive format gives working professionals the means to “find the time to pursue a degree which will equip them for the next level of business leadership.”

The Top 25 include: Bethel University – McKenzie, TN; Brandeis University Heller – Waltham, MA; Duke University – Durham, NC; Faulkner University – Montgomery, AL; Howard University –Washington, DC; James Madison University – Harrisonburg, VA; Ohio University – Athens, OH; Pace University – New York, NY; Park University – Parkville, MO; Purdue University –West Lafayette, IN; Rochester Institute of Technology – Rochester, NY; Saint Mary’s College of California – Moraga, CA; Sonoma State University – Rohnert Park, CA; Southeastern University – Lakeland, FL; Spring Arbor University – Spring Arbor, MI; St. Joseph’s College New York – Brooklyn, NY; Tennessee State University – Nashville, TN; Texas Southern University – Houston, TX; University of Arkansas – Fayetteville, AR; University of Hawaii at Manoa – Honolulu, HI; University of Mary – Bismarck, ND; University of Nevada, Reno – Reno, NV; University of New Orleans – New Orleans, LA; University of North Alabama – Florence, AL; University of North Carolina Wilmington – Wilmington, NC

Bethel’s President Walter Butler offers, “We appreciate College Consensus recognizing our outstanding Executive MBA Program. We pride ourselves in reaching the busy professional who is on a trajectory of continued learning and accomplishment.”

To learn more, go to

Bethel University Spring Commencement

MCKENZIE, TN –Bethel University’s Spring Commencement will be held on Saturday, May 4, 2019 in the Rosemary and Harry Crisp II Arena in McKenzie. There will be two ceremonies. The first, at 9 a.m., will be for those graduating with undergraduate degrees. The second service, for those receiving graduate degrees, will be at 1 p.m.  

Commissioner David Salyers will be the commencement speaker. David Salyers became commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation in January 2019 after serving as executive director of the West Tennessee River Basin Authority since 1997.

A native of rural western Kentucky and resident of Madison County, Tennessee, Salyers led the West Tennessee River Basin Authority as an agency that sets the standard for water resource management in West Tennessee. Salyers introduced stream management techniques that led to improved efficiency and preservation of natural resources.

Under Salyers’ leadership, the Basin Authority was recognized by state and local leaders as innovative and cost-effective. The agency successfully built partnerships with state departments, federal agencies, nonprofits, local chambers of commerce, businesses, private landowners and agricultural producers. Such partnerships led to large collaborative grant awards for projects to reduce flooding, protect infrastructure, improve water quality and restore ecosystems. The agency provided solutions to issues related to public safety, agriculture, transportation, recruitment of industry, watershed stabilization, water quality and natural resource enhancement.  He received the 2016 Land Conservationist of the Year Award from the Tennessee Wildlife Federation for his wetlands restoration work and effective promotion of soil conservation practices with local farmers that improved the health of target watersheds.

Salyers worked for 11 years in the private sector in the Southeast as an engineer and manager before taking the reins of the Basin Authority. He maintains registrations as a professional engineer and geologist, as well as being a certified hydrologic professional. He received a bachelor’s degree in geology from Murray State University and a bachelor’s degree and master’s degree in geological engineering from Missouri University of Science and Technology. Additionally, he has served as a Bethel University faculty member.

Salyers is married to Dr.  Robin Salyers, Co-Director of Education at Bethel and a professor of Education and Computer Information Systems. David and Robin have been married for 36 years. They have two daughters and three grandchildren.

Seating for both graduation services will begin one hour prior to service time. Graduates with questions should contact their specific school’s registrar. For all other general questions, contact Myra Carlock at 731-352-4090 or at

Barnes & Noble College selected to manage Bethel University’s bookstore operations

MCKENZIE, TN – Bethel University officials announced this week that it has selected Barnes & Noble College to manage its bookstore operations.

Effective Monday, April 22, the multichannel operations provided by Barnes & Noble College will streamline course materials access, integrate bookstore operations with the campus learning management system (LMS), and give faculty access to an online textbook adoption platform.

Barnes & Noble College will drive significant cost savings for Bethel University students, offering an expansive selection of affordable learning materials including new, used, rental and digital course materials. The bookstore will also offer open educational resources (OER) content and courseware through OpenStax, LoudCloud Courseware™ and other major OER providers. First Day™, the company’s inclusive access solution, provides additional opportunities for savings by offering course materials at reduced prices through a course materials charge for participating programs. Students have the option to receive their materials on or before the first day of class, delivered seamlessly through their LMS.

“Bethel University has always prided itself on providing students with everything they need to succeed in the classroom,” said Bethel University President Dr. Walter Butler. “We are confident that Barnes & Noble College will continue to support this mission, while lowering costs and increasing access to high-quality learning materials.”

In addition to a wide selection of course materials, Barnes & Noble College will also introduce an enhanced selection of general merchandise items, including clothing, gifts, supplies, technology and more. Students, faculty and alumni will be able to shop the full assortment both in-store and online through the bookstore’s e-commerce site.

“We are very proud to partner with Bethel University,” said Barry Brover, Executive Vice President, Barnes & Noble College. “Our campus store will act as a complete support system, delivering innovative services and solutions that enhance the retail experience and empower academic success for students and faculty. We look forward to driving affordability, accessibility and achievement for the Bethel campus community.”

Barnes & Noble College currently operates more than 770 campus stores nationwide. For more information, visit

Free lecture explores the problem of slavery through the eyes of Civil War Era Cumberland Presbyterians

MCKENZIE, TN – The public is invited to explore the impact of slavery on long-ago Cumberland Presbyterians during the Dr. James Potts History Symposium beginning at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, March 21 at the Bethel University campus. The Dr. James Potts History Symposium was named after Dr. James Potts, long-time professor of history at Bethel University.

The speaker will be West Tennessee native Dr. William Black, who graduated from the Honors Program at Bethel University in 2011 with a degree in history.  Black recently received his PhD from Rice University and specializes in 19th Century Religious History and Southern History.  He has been published in the Journal of the Civil War Era, Journal of Popular Culture, The Washington Post, Vox, and The Atlantic.

Now a visiting instructor of history from Western Kentucky University, Dr. Black will present “Border States, Border Church: Cumberland Presbyterians and the Problem of Slavery” in the Ayers Lecture Hall.

Sponsored by the Bethel University Department of History and the Honors Program, the event is free and open to everyone.  For more information, please contact Dr. Sarah Kidd, Professor of History and Chair, Division of Social Sciences at or Dr. Dan Dalrymple, Associate Professor of History and Director of the Honors Program Director at

Bethel University students benefit from statewide increase in institutional grants

MCKENZIE, TN – Studies released this week by The Tennessee Independent Colleges and Universities Association (TICUA) suggest that, while state and federal aid has remained stagnant over the past decade, member institutions have steadily increased the amount of institutional grant aid they provide.  Bethel University is one of 34 TICUA campuses in Tennessee.

Officials at Bethel University note that Institutional aid comes in the form of grants and scholarships to students who either demonstrate financial need or qualify academically. This money does not need to be repaid.

According to the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System’s (IPEDS) 2018-19 student aid survey, 98% of first-time, full-time Bethel University freshmen received some form of aid, while 85% received institutional scholarships. The average amount of institutional aid for Bethel freshmen was $9,663.  Institutional scholarships include athletic, performance-based (including performance arts), and even scholarships for resident dorm directors.

Bethel University President Dr. Walter Butler says the school’s generous aid allows more students to pursue their educational dreams.

“The cost of a college education can present a significant obstacle for many families,” he said. “Bethel provides abundant opportunities for worthy individuals to overcome financial roadblocks on their way to a college degree.”

TICUA was established to promote cooperation among private institutions throughout Tennessee, helping private colleges and universities to work collaboratively in areas of public policy, cost containment, and professional developments. Members include each independent, non-profit, regionally accredited college and university in Tennessee with a traditional arts and science curriculum.

To learn more about Bethel University’s scholarship and grant offerings, go to:

Bethel University one of top 25 colleges offering free laptops

MCKENZIE, TN – Higher education in the 21st century depends on technology, and free laptops for college students is one way for colleges to make technology accessible. Bethel University was among the first colleges in the nation to provide students in select programs with a laptop at no cost, and it continues to be a popular offering with undergraduates in the College of Arts and Sciences and College of Professional Studies. This week, Bethel University was recognized by for its ongoing laptop initiative.

In compiling their list of the top 25 colleges offering free technology, College Concensus looked for schools which offer free laptops for students not just as an incentive to attract new enrollees, “but as a real pedagogical tool that is deeply embedded in learning.”

With the rising cost of education, paying out of pocket for an updated computer presents a financial challenge for many students. On their website, noted that “When schools provide the needed technology, they level the playing field so that no student is left behind simply because he or she is without the financial means to keep up. College Consensus thinks it is both innovative and admirable for schools to provide access to the technology needed to excel in higher education today.”

Bethel University President Walter Butler said that inclusion in the list tells prospective students that “Bethel is a school that values innovation and is dedicated to creating an ideal learning environment. Providing CPS and CAS undergraduates with the technology they need is just one more example of Bethel University’s ongoing focus on student success.”

To find out more, go to or go to

Bethel University Commencement to be held this Saturday

MCKENZIE, TN – A total of 374 Bethel University degree candidates are slated to graduate during ceremonies this Saturday, Dec. 8, in the Rosemary and Harry Crisp II Arena in the Vera Low Center for Student Enrichment. Commencement activities begin at 10 a.m.

Anne B. Pope, Executive Director of the Tennessee Arts Commission, will serve as commencement speaker. The Tennessee Arts Commission is a state arts agency dedicated to cultivating the arts in Tennessee for the benefit of all citizens and their communities. Over the past five years, more than 6,450 grants totaling more than $30 million have been invested in communities across Tennessee.

Ms. Pope formerly served as federal co-chair of the Appalachian Regional Commission, where she led a variety of economic and community development initiatives, including asset-based economic development; as commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Commerce and Insurance; and as executive director of the Tennessee Film, Entertainment, and Music Commission. Immediately prior to joining the Tennessee Arts Commission, she was Vice-President of STEM Education, Oak Ridge National Lab and Executive Director of the Tennessee STEM Innovation Network. She is a graduate of Vanderbilt University and the Cumberland School of Law at Samford University, and is admitted to practice law in Tennessee and the District of Columbia.

Established in 1842, Bethel University is affiliated with the Cumberland Presbyterian Church, and offers bachelor’s, master’s, and associate degrees through a variety of learning platforms. For more information about Bethel University, go to

Bethel University announces partnership with Dyersburg State

McKenzie, TN — Bethel University Vice President Dr. Kimberly Martin announced an agreement today that will make it easier for graduates of Dyersburg State Community College to transfer to Bethel to complete their bachelor’s degrees in Management & Organizational Development with optional concentrations in Information Technology or Healthcare Management. Students may choose to attend classes one night per week on campus with other adult learners or may complete additional classes online through Bethel’s Virtual Campus.

Specifically, the agreement allows Bethel University’s College of Professional Studies to promote and offer on-campus degree completion courses at Dyersburg State’s main campus at 1510 Lake Road in Dyersburg. In addition, Bethel will accept all credit from students’ Dyersburg State associate degrees to apply toward their bachelor’s degrees. Both Dyersburg State alumni and other associate degree holders within the Dyersburg community can build upon their associate degree or previously earned college hours.

Martin stated that the academic partnership “demonstrates our commitment to promoting continued education to Tennessee adults” by saving students time and money while putting highly educated individuals into the workplace at an increased rate. “Together, we are working towards meeting Gov. Bill Haslam’ss Drive to 55 goal to see 55% of Tennesseans possess a postsecondary certificate or degree by the year 2025. By offering a bachelor’s degree completion program that is convenient and designed specifically for adult learners, we are reinforcing the fact that lifetime learning is the key to success,” she said.

Dyersburg State President Karen Bowyer sees benefits all around. “DSCC is excited about welcoming faculty from Bethel University to offer classes at the junior and senior level in the Eller Administration Building in spring 2019 for DSCC graduates. This new initiative will help this region develop the skilled people necessary to improve the quality of life and economic prosperity.”

Those who graduated from community college with at least a 3.0 GPA on or after Oct. 1, 2015 are eligible for a $500 scholarship.

“This is a truly exciting partnership,” said Bethel University President Dr. Walter Butler. “Both Bethel and Dyersburg State 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.”

College of Professional Studies students receive a laptop to use for their coursework, have their customized textbooks delivered directly to them, and study under the guidance of industry professionals and field experts.

“Dyersburg State Community College has offered high-quality educational opportunities at the certificate and associate degree level to students in Northwest Tennessee for 50 years,” Martin added. “Bethel is excited to partner with Dyersburg State to help its graduates earn bachelor’s degrees close to home, in an environment specifically designed for working adults.”

One of the oldest private institutions in Tennessee, Bethel University has been designated a “Military Friendly” school, and was named one of the best online colleges in Tennessee for 2018 by Credit hours can be earned for military and professional experience, as well as through qualifying exams. All students have access to a dedicated academic advisor, 24/7 technical support, a user-friendly online library, and more.

To learn more about Bethel University’s College of Professional Studies programs, go to, or contact Jackie Puckett at (270) 243.4321 or