Honorary doctorates and a scholarship endowment represent two small ways Belmont expressed its thanks for the service of retiring Board of Trustees Chair Marty Dickens and his wife, Betty.

Just call them Dr. and Dr. Dickens!

At the April 23 commencement celebration, longtime Board of Trustees chair Marty Dickens and his wife Betty were surprised with honorary doctorates for “their devotion and service to the betterment” of Belmont. The award, which represents the highest honor conferred by the University, wasn’t the only way Belmont recognized all they have contributed. It was also announced that the Marty Dickens Scholarship Endowment for Worship Leadership would be established. Created with an institutional gift of $250,000, the fund will provide scholarships for aspiring church worship leaders.

Belmont President Dr. Bob Fisher said, “I’ve often said that one of the top reasons I have stayed so long at Belmont has been because of the extraordinary support I’ve received from our Board of Trustees, and Marty Dickens has led the way as our chairman. The commitment he and Betty have shown to Belmont students and this institution at large has enabled us to accomplish so much more than we could have ever dreamed. Most of all, he has kept us focused on our Christian mission and modeled Christ’s love and service to our community.”

R. Milton Johnson

New Board Chair

R. Milton Johnson, the retired HCA Healthcare chairman and CEO, was unanimously elected as the new chair of the Belmont Board of Trustees. A 1979 alumnus, Johnson has remained a dedicated leader and supporter of the University’s mission since his graduation. He and his wife Denice created the R. Milton and Denice Johnson Bridges to Belmont Endowed Scholarship Fund in 2015 to support full scholarships for qualified, high potential students from Metro Nashville Public Schools.

In addition to their financial support, the Johnsons spend substantial time each year with the more than 120 students whose experience at Belmont is made possible by their gifts. 

Dickens, who has led Belmont’s Board since 2005, noted, “One of the many joys of being associated with Belmont is how this university family strives to live out its Christian mission every single day. This wonderful scholarship is just one more example of that commitment. God blessed my life by providing me the opportunity to be a small part of the Belmont journey for the last 21 years. Being on that journey with Bob Fisher has been more like being on a rocket ride always taking us to greater and farther-reaching accomplishments. Thank you for everything. Belmont… from here to anywhere!”

Dickens is stepping down from his role as Board chair in conjunction with Dr. Fisher’s May 31 retirement. Dickens and his wife Betty were previously recognized by the University with the naming of a 300-bed residence hall for upperclassmen in their honor, Dickens Hall, which opened in 2012.