Election system flawed

Kassidy Harris is the new student body president. His first act in office should be to fix the voting system that got him elected. Signs, Facebook groups and Twitter pages proclaimed the great qualities of candidates seeking votes in the March 8 elections. But when many students received the customary open ballot email nearly ten hours after it was supposed to go out, many found themselves locked out from the electronic ballot box. The system was designed to keep graduating seniors from casting votes for a president who would take office after their graduation. Why would a departing student care about bills passed by next year’s student government? But the ballot box’s definition of seniors had little to do with May graduation. To be considered a senior on campus, students must have completed 90 hours. Voting was only open to those students who started the spring semester with less than 90 hours. But it takes 124 hours to graduate. Good luck finding the graduating student taking 34 hours this spring (and good luck paying for that tuition bill). Even a hefty load of 15 hours a semester would take these students into next spring. That’s the whole term of Harris – a president leading many students who couldn’t even elect him. Without considering double major and extra elective hours, 90 hours in December is a bad cutoff for the elections. Any junior who has been aggressive in taking classes or who brought in hours would  and should be near the 90-hour mark three semesters from graduating. This means a huge chunk of the junior class – the most seasoned and university experienced voters – weren’t able to name their choice online. One candidate couldn’t even log in himself to vote. The student life office did a great job of trying to let the locked-out voters participate. Students with more than 90 hours could still cast votes via email with Kristie Brischke. She graciously handled the email of students who found themselves unable to vote. But knowing how to vote around the system was not publicized well. Some students who went to the student life office learned to email votes, and a few Facebook pages, including The Bells’, provided the email address to send votes. A confusing and frustrating voting process is never good for voters. Remember Florida’s hanging chads? One can’t expect someone who may have voted from the email link to go to great lengths to figure out how to work around the broken system. Harris may have been elected regardless of the voting errors, but if students are expected to take student government seriously, the technical side...

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Former Army chaplain shares ministry
Mar29

Former Army chaplain shares ministry

As Christian studies Assistant Professor Dr. David Howard approached the microphone, he looked out into an enormous ballroom filled with the top U.S. military chaplains and their spouses. Among the audience members was the U.S. Army Chief of Chaplains Major Gen. Douglas L. Carver, a man Howard met when he was just starting his Chaplaincy. Howard’s influence on him led Carver to become a chaplain. “When we first met in 1976 in Germany, I was young and inexperienced in the ministry and the military,” Howard said. “God can use you when you are young and just starting out – even when you are unaware of the impact you are making in another’s life.” Unbeknownst to Howard, Carver, a young Southern Baptist artillery officer, had little respect for military ministers. That is, until he met Howard, a new military man with an acoustic guitar and a passion for God and the troops. Inspired, Carver went to seminary and now is the senior chaplain in the entire Army. He asked Howard to speak at the event 35 years after they met. Howard’s task was to speak for the retiree recognition breakfast at the chief of chaplain’s annual Strategic Leader Development Training Conference in Hilton Island, S.C. The event was far from home for the assistant professor of both the College of Christian studies and the Department of Graduate Counseling and Psychology, but Howard is no stranger to traveling or the military. He enjoyed a 20-year career as an Army chaplain before retiring to family counseling and, eventually, teaching, So Howard’s talk about “re-tiring” to prepare for the next stage of ministry was one not only of knowledge, but of great experience and passion. He studied several retired chaplains who have gone on to lead productive and fruitful ministries. Sitting before the stage was a new class of retirees, ready for the next step in ministry. He hopes that these retiring servants, “rather than rusting out, we would be pouring out and wearing out as we actively move toward the finish line of our lives.” Howard received the title of chaplain even before he found faith. Attending Pacific University as an undergrad, he was named chaplain of his fraternity. His peers thought he was the obvious choice because he was “the only sober one on the weekend.” But Howard was no man of religion – yet. He turned to a book of prayers by Peter Marshall who served as U.S. Senate chaplain during the trying years after World War II for help leading his fraternity brothers. “These prayers guided the men who were making incredible decisions for our country. I was intrigued...

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Students, scholars meet for religious conference
Mar08

Students, scholars meet for religious conference

Associate Professor Dr. Renate Hood’s voice filled the meeting room in the Dallas Marriot. Her lecture, a discussion on Paul’s use of ‘hope’ in the book of Romans, resembled any lecture she could give in one of her Christian studies classes. But the audience was wildly different – except for a few of her pupils that made the journey with her. Six students and five faculty members traveled to the Southwest Commission of Religious Studies where they attended seminars from scholars throughout the region on anything to do with religion. And some of the faculty – Christian studies professor Dr. Carol Holcomb, history and political science Professor Dr. David Holcomb and Hood represented UMHB as presenters. Hood was instrumental in bringing the students to the event. And while the students learned a great deal, she concedes that the scholars also were able to learn from the undergrads. “We have a different way of looking at the academy. Students bring a dialogue that you cannot reproduce without them,” she said. “When I see their enthusiasm and what they bring back, it’s worth everything.” Senior biblical studies and biblical languages double major Heather Witlock was one of the students at the conference. “It was a good opportunity to hear lectures on things we are interested in,” Witlock said. “Plus we can hang out with professors who we don’t usually get to see outside of the classroom and hear them giving presentations on research they are interested in.” Senior biblical studies major Becca Freitag was particularly impressed with the variety of topics “A lot of really interesting things were talked about,” she said. “We went to one lecture on mega churches and how things are turning towards prosperity gospel. Also, a doctor from med school did research on Jeffery Dhamer and how origins moves us more towards evil or good.” The conference not only allowed students to learn and interact with professors, but they also got to see how the academic world works. Junior theology/philosophy and history double major Tyler Potts hopes to be a professor one day. Then he, like Associate Professor of Christian studies Dr. Michael Robinson and Christian studies Professor Dr. Stephen Von Wyrick can attend more of these conferences. Perhaps even present his research. “It’s something that I have an aspiration to potentially do one day,” he said. “Being at this conference excites me about it much more.” The Christian studies department wanted to showcase the event for students who may be interested in biblical scholarship. Junior Christian ministry major Hannah Eaton was appreciative of the opportunity – even if she plans to focus her graduate work more...

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Student Body President Debate

Part 1 Untitled from Evan Duncan on Vimeo. Part 2 Untitled from Henry Duncan on...

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Alums turn idea into livelihood
Feb21

Alums turn idea into livelihood

Alumnus Luke Nunnally is often seen with his Macbook Pro in Bodega Bean working on his website Belboard.com. He sips a Red Bull as he and his business partner and fellow alum, Eliot Barcak, discuss the next sale for their company – a business they began as students at UMHB. Now they own the biggest local websites in both Belton and Waco. Nunnally saw that Bell County really didn’t have an outlet for local advertising. He came up with Belboard to fit that need. “When I was a junior here, I found out about Nami (a local Japanese restaurant), and it’s really great,” he said. “There is no excuse for you to be a junior and not know about it.” The concept of Belboard is simple. The site has a large grid that is covered with ads of local businesses. Every time registered users click on ads, they are sent to that business’s home page. But Belboard randomly makes some ads lucky – meaning some clicks will get users anything from a free California roll from Nami to one of the promoted “Big Ticket” items – like an Xbox 360. Belboard sells the ad blocks to  businesses that will normally get a spike in Web traffic shortly after the ad hits the site. Every click means more Internet traffic for the advertiser and more relevancy for Google searches than before. Sites with more traffic show up higher on searches than less visited sites. Getting their page to the top of Google search results is a marketing goal for most businesses. The idea has been so successful that the alumni also have sites in Waco, Wacoboard.com; College Station, Tamuboard.com; and even a satellite site in Athens, Georgia, Athensboard.com, due to a partnership with the University of Georgia. The coffee shop is an ideal location for the Belboard guys to get work done. They spend much of their time traveling between cities where they operate sites, and a local space with free Wi-Fi is perfect to meet with business owners who may be interested in a chunk of Belboard’s space. UMHB Associate Professor and Chairperson of management, entrepreneurship and marketing department Dr. Barbara Dalby sparked the idea for the site in Nunnally. She was teaching about The Million Dollar Homepage, a site that an English student broke into pixels and sold to universities to raise money for his education. The website made $2 million dollars in two weeks. “I noticed Luke was in the back of the room, and he was asking questions,” Dalby said. “By the end of class, he had bought a domain name on his iPhone.” Nunnally was...

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