I hope this message finds you safe, healthy, and well. As we settle into this promising new year, I wanted to share how God continues to show His favor to Richmont, more specifically to you: our beloved students.
I am happy to announce that all Richmont students will receive a two percent (2%) tuition discount for the 2021 spring semester. This discount was made possible by Section 18004 of the CARES grant allocated for institutional expenses to all eligible students to receive a tuition discount. Your tuition discount will be calculated using your tuition charges on January 25th.
To receive the benefits of this tuition discount, please ensure your mailing address is current in CAMS. Your tuition discount will be processed early next week.
Join me in giving thanks for all the ways God continues to bless our University.
Best wishes and blessings,
Dr. Timothy Quinnan | President & CEO
Richmont Graduate University
I hope this message finds you and your loved ones rested and refreshed from the holidays and safe, healthy, and well. Let me wish you a happy and blessed 2021!
I am writing to you to extend a warm, Richmont welcome as our spring semester begins. Like many of you, I treasure the promise every new year brings. While the unexpected challenges of 2020 tested our mettle, I could not be prouder of our community for how we continued to thrive amidst these challenges. From that experience, I could not be more hopeful for what the Lord will do in the new year of 2021.
Though confident in God’s protection, let’s remain vigilant to ensure the well-being of our community. Given the ongoing realities of COVID, we renew our commitment to your health and safety as we begin a new semester. As an extra layer of precaution, I advised our faculty and staff to maintain online work this week so we can return to campus with all of you, fresh and ready next Monday. As you return to campus the week of January 11th, we will have the same health and safety procedures in place to ensure your health and well-being. As a quick reminder:
Facemasks required while on campus
Temperature checks upon entry
Maintain social distance (at least 6ft) and proper hand hygiene
Regular disinfectant cleanings
Please visit www.richmont.edu/covid for additional information on Richmont’s COVID safety procedures. Stay tuned for a message from Dr. Blackburn (the Dean of Students) about additional information you’ll need for a successful start to the spring semester.
As most of us reflect on the challenges and triumphs of 2020, I stand amazed at God’s providence towards our University.
Happy New Year and see you next week!
Best wishes and blessings,
Dr. Timothy Quinnan
President, Richmont Graduate University
What are your roles at Richmont Graduate University?
Dr. Sutherland is an Associate Professor of Counseling at Richmont Graduate University’s School of Counseling, and the inaugural Director of the Office of Diversity & Inclusion. She also serves as the Dean of Assessment, Planning & Accreditation, overseeing strategic planning, and program and institutional accreditation.
What do you love about working at Richmont?
What I love most about being at Richmont is connecting with students, past and present. Contributing to and watching both the personal and professional growth of current students as they walk through the program is one of my most enjoyable professional endeavors. Just this week I experienced the pleasure of reconnecting with Richmont alum. I have enjoyed not only the faculty-student relationships while they were here, but also those ongoing relationships where we talk about their post-graduation achievements and challenges, and even collaboration on research and other professional projects. It’s a joy to continue watching and contributing to their growth, even after they’ve left the doors of Richmont. Although though the pandemic has led to a great deal more interaction virtually than in person, these connections have not deteriorated in any way.
Tell us about your counseling expertise.
In the field of counseling since 1998, and licensed since 2001, Dr. Sutherland has provided therapeutic services in the private practice, psychiatric residential, in-home, and outpatient mental health settings, for adolescents and adults, through individual, group, couples, and family therapy. She has specialized in working with adolescents, couples and families for the last 22 years. One of Dr. Sutherland’s historical research interests has been evidence-based treatment within residential settings for commercially sexually exploited youth, which was a primary focus of her clinical expertise during her years as a clinician in the psychiatric residential setting. Her ongoing research interests include counselor cultural competence development and counselor supervision. Within the last 5 years, Dr. Sutherland has provided training, researched, and published in the areas of racial trauma, counselor cultural competence development and training, provision of culturally-informed clinical intervention and supervision, and social justice advocacy. Dr. Sutherland’s primary clinical practice currently centers on providing clinical supervision services to post-master’s clinicians pursuing licensure.
During her years in the field, Dr. Sutherland has also served as a Director of Mental Health and Clinical Services for mid – large sized outpatient mental health organizations providing therapeutic intervention in the Cobb, Atlanta, and Stone Mountain areas. In this capacity, Dr. Sutherland provided strategic and financial direction, administrative oversight and accountability for clinical service provision, as well as clinical supervision for mental health professionals providing services to the community at large.
Dr. Sutherland is a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) in the state of Georgia, a Board Certified Telemental Health Counselor (BC-TMH), and an Approved Clinical Supervisor (ACS). Dr. Sutherland earned her PhD (Counselor Education and Supervision) from Regent University, Masters of Science (Professional Counseling) from Georgia State University, and Bachelor of Science (Psychology) from New York University.
During the last 30 years, Dr. Sutherland has served as a guest lecturer, trainer and presenter for various state, regional and national counselor professional organizations including the ACES, SACES, ASERVIC, CAPS, GCCA, AMHCA, and LPCAGA. Additionally, she has provided training for social, civic, educational and clinical organizations such as Esyr, Kaiser, the University of Georgia, Boys & Girls Club of Metro Atlanta, Skyland Trail, the Alcohol and Drug Abuse Certification Board of Georgia, the Foster Families Treatment Association, the Woman’s Missionary Union of New York, the Women’s Missionary Union of the Southern Baptist Convention, the National Office for School Counselor Advocacy, Elite Women of Excellence, local churches, and various mental health agencies.
Historically, the BIPOC (Black and Indigenous People of Color) community has struggled with the stigma related to mental health counseling. This struggle seems to be lifting within the BIPOC community such that mental health counseling seems to be accepted. Do you agree or disagree?
Certainly, there are pockets within the BIPOC community where the stigma of mental health is not as prevalent. Some of that may be linked to socio-economic status, age, gender and the like. Overall though, I don’t believe there has been significant dissipation of stigma surrounding mental health support within the BIPOC community. I think the entrenchment of that stigma can be attributed to the strength of some of the primary associations counseling has had with social service institutions. Unfortunately, the introduction of mental health services within the BIPOC community decades ago was often linked to a family’s involvement with social service systems that mandated counseling as part of the overall intervention. As a result, the distrust of structurally racist public and institutional policy within social service agencies was extended to counseling by association. This distrust was compounded by the significant lack of BIPOC counselors to work with these families. Being forced to engage with white mental health professionals who historically were quick to diagnose and medicate severe mental illness, while also denying the experience and impact of structural and interpersonal racism, often served to justify this lack of trust. In the last 30 – 40 years, there hasn’t been a significant shift in the realities of this dynamic. The health and racial pandemics of 2020 highlighted the pervasiveness and often life-threatening impact of systemic and interpersonal racism across multiple human experience domains. For instance, the disproportionately negative impact of the health pandemic for BIPOC was linked directly to poverty, poor healthcare options, and inequitable access to safe housing and educational technology). Additionally, there was stark clarity surrounding the significantly higher vulnerability to police brutality that is experienced by BIPOC. All of this contributes to ongoing mistrust, and extends itself to the mental health field. As has been the case for decades, there is still a significant underrepresentation of BIPOC service providers, and there is still a significant lack of understanding on the part of dominant culture clinicians when it comes to cultural differences and the impact of racial trauma and structural racism. These are some reasons the challenges presented by mental health stigma is still a significant concern.
In 2020, racial injustice of African Americans at the hands of Police Officers and others peaked at unforeseen highs this year. These injustices caused wide-spread tension across the nation and negative attention across the globe. What advice would you offer people who suffer anxiety, depression, and burnout from the cumulative exposure to racial discrimination via the media?
I think it’s more accurate to say that racial injustice has become more obvious to many within the dominant culture, such that there is no way to deny its reality or continue to pretend to be unaware. What became more visible because of the media is not new – it’s always been the case. And in reality, what people saw on television was only a fraction of all such cases that occurred this year. Only a few of the more sensationalized incidents were highlighted – George Floyd, Breanna Taylor, Ahmad Arbury. As time has passed, we’ve seen a decrease in media coverage about what is an ongoing and pervasive reality for BIPOC. Nonetheless, I agree that the increased visibility of the realities of police brutality through the media that we saw in 2020 was indeed traumatic, and influenced unprecedented and wide-spread tension for many in our country and across the globe. And I think that tension is more than warranted. At the same time, the experience of anxiety, depression, and burnout from the cumulative exposure to racial discrimination via the media has more to do than with just police brutality. And how one manages the emotional and psychological toll of these cumulative exposures can be complicated and thus will take time, and will look different depending on where you sit at the table of injustice.
For some, their expressions of anxiety, depression and/or other traumatic stress response are related to being repeatedly faced with realities they would prefer not be true. For many of these people it is a jarring of their concept of the world, a dismantling of what they have been taught was true but now seems to be otherwise. And rather than avoiding the impact of this, they are instead being pressed in differing ways to confront the answers to questions ranging from “How can this really be true?” and “Why didn’t I know this?” to “What does this mean about me?”. For people who choose to pursue truth, they will need to be ready to also consider all the distressing and potentially unmooring answers to all the questions in between.
For others who have known these truths as evidenced in their own lives, their realities go beyond anxiety and depression to a much more chronically experienced lifelong complex trauma, often referred to in the black community as racial battle fatigue. More than the witnessing of the racial injustices of 2020 that have been sensationalized by the media, racial battle fatigue represents the accumulation of repeated lifelong exposure to interpersonal and structural microaggressions. It describes the psychological, physiological and behavioral strain that is experienced because of the significant amount of energy that individuals within the BIPOC community expend fighting against daily interaction with racism. I can’t tell you how many conversations I’ve had in the last many months as our nation has experienced the political war playing out within our country. For everyone that connected with me who were members of the BIPOC community, the emotional and psychological strain was tremendous. The polarization that was driven by our elected leaders was severe, and a great deal of that polarization was characterized within racially and culturally demoralizing messages, and/or had significantly negative impact on the BIPOC community as a whole more than on any other cultural demographic. The large majority (if any) of those messages were never publicly, collectively and demonstratively rebuked by elected officials who held the most power. Because of this what was at truly at stake was the answer to the question – “Do we REALLY matter?”
So, you can see how the ways people suffer are so different, and the reasons and complexity of their anxiety, depression, and traumatic stress are so different.
Richmont Graduate University has established an exciting partnership with the Transforming Center of Wheaton, Illinois. The partnership is aligned with Richmont’s School of Ministry, which prepares men and women to fulfill God’s call to transformational ministry. Consummately, the Transforming Center exists to create space for God to strengthen leaders and transform communities. Together, we are set to continue to equip more Christ-like leaders for God’s Kingdom.
The partnership allows Richmont to provide academic credit to Transforming Center students. Specifically, Richmont is providing 12 credits of Advanced Standing in our Master of Arts in Spiritual Formation and Direction degree to graduates of the Transforming Community program. The relationship between Richmont and the Transforming Center is especially centered on our innovative cohort model of accredited training in the ministry of Spiritual Direction.
Dr. Joshua Rice, Acting Provost and Dean of the School of Ministry at Richmont states, “We’re very excited to partner with the Transforming Center. Dr. Ruth Haley Barton has been a guest lecturer and friend to Richmont for several years. This agreement represents a new partnership we believe will bear fruit for each institution in the future.”
Students can begin receiving academic credit effective in the spring semester of 2021. Visit the Transforming Center at transformingcenter.org
The Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP) recently approved Richmont Graduate University’s newly launched Online Clinical Mental Health Counseling Program. The online program was determined to be equivalent to the traditional program, which has been fully accredited since 2015. This accomplishment signifies that the online program meets the highest educational and clinical training standards within the counseling profession.
Dr. Stanley Hoover, Associate Professor of Counseling & Online Program Director at Richmont Graduate University, states “This is a significant achievement that affirms the quality and value of our online program. It reflects a great deal of hard work by an outstanding team of faculty and staff who are deeply invested in advancing Richmont’s mission further than ever.”
While the number of online courses offered by the School of Counseling has increased in recent years, students now have the option to complete their entire degrees through distance learning and a series of in-person residencies. This affords students greater flexibility and convenience while also engaging them in the rigorous, highly experiential clinical training for which Richmont is known. Expanding online teaching and learning in these ways reflects the University’s commitment to excellence and innovation. It also creates opportunities for students from all over the world to become part of the Richmont community.
For more information regarding Richmont Graduate University and forthcoming initiatives, please visit richmont.edu.
Richmont’s Office Of Diversity And Inclusion Presents The “Voice To Power” Design Contest
In the spring of 2020, Richmont Graduate University’s Office of Diversity and Inclusion hosted several town hall meetings which addressed the nation’s challenges in diversity, racial injustice, and cultural humility. The response across campuses in Atlanta, Georgia and Chattanooga, Tennessee was heart-warming with support for the meetings in record numbers from Richmont constituents. As a result, the Office of Diversity and Inclusion decided to launch a contest in the spirit of demonstrating Richmont’s stance on social advocacy. The contest is aptly titled, “Voice to Power.”
Sonja Sutherland, Richmont’s Office of Diversity and Inclusion Director, states “The Voice to Power contest invites Richmont students, faculty, staff and alumni to put a voice to action by creating a design that speaks to Richmont’s desire to be a voice against social injustice. The design will be used as a sign that will hang outside each of Richmont’s campuses in Atlanta and Chattanooga. Richmont constituents and supporters can purchase the winning yard sign to place in their yards in support of the University.”
The criterion for the contest design asks that contestants to create a sign that addresses and/or reflects Racial injustice, as well as multiple other aspects of injustice and marginalization specific to our current time; Richmont’s mission and values as expressed through Richmont’s statement of diversity and inclusion; and must include the words Richmont Graduate University or the website, richmont.edu
The contest will run from October 12 to October 23, 2020. The Office of Diversity and Inclusion and the Office of Student Affairs will vote and decide on the winner by October 30, 2020.
If you are interested in participating, please email your design to email@example.com
For more information regarding Richmont Graduate University and forthcoming initiatives, please visit richmont.edu.
Richmont Takes Part In GIVE Atlanta Challenge – October 7 – 23
This is the second year Richmont is participating in Atlanta Magazine’s GIVE Atlanta Challenge October 7th through 23rd. The GIVE Atlanta Challenge is a friendly online competition among nonprofits to highlight the importance of philanthropy in the Atlanta-metro community. As one of many competing nonprofits. Richmont plans to invest all GIVE Atlanta donations towards advancing its mission in Atlanta, Chattanooga, and abroad.
Every year, Richmont conducts an Annual Fund campaign to garner resources for the University to help provide programs and services while keeping tuition as low as possible. The GIVE Atlanta Challenge provides us a fun way to generate support and excitement for the Annual Fund.
Amy Estes, Richmont’s Director of Development, states, “We understand the financial commitment to earn a master’s degree is significant. So, we ask students to support the Annual Fund because their participation speaks volumes about the value they place on Richmont and provides us leverage when we seek other funding. Participating in the GIVE Atlanta Challenge for these 17 days is a fun way for students and all donors to participate in our Annual Fund giving.”
This year, our campus hosted several town hall discussions titled, Courageous Conversations. During the meetings, we heard from our community the desire for more diversity at Richmont. Research has shown that scholarship support for minority students is important to achieving diversity, which is why Richmont began awarding Bridge Scholarships in 2018. Working together, Richmont’s Offices of Diversity and Inclusion and Development are launching a campaign with alumni to increase funding for the Bridge Scholarship program. We invite donors to give toward the Bridge Scholarship by participating in the 2020 GIVE Challenge.
The 2020 GIVE Challenge runs from October 7th through October 23rd. All gifts made through the GIVE Challenge during these 17 days count towards Richmont’s leaderboard total, and the University’s philanthropic support for the 2021 fiscal year. A gift of just $10 counts in the GIVE Atlanta Challenge.
Richmont Graduate University is pleased to announce the selection of Dr. Joshua Rice as the University’s first-ever Acting Provost. As Acting Provost, Dr. Rice will serve as chief academic officer and be responsible for the vision, planning, creation and delivery of the University’s academic programs. In addition, he will exercise leadership over and operationalize Richmont’s In Pursuit of Excellence 2019-2021 strategic plan to achieve its Five Core Aspirations: Pursue Excellence and Innovation, Enhance the Student Experience, Engage New and Diverse Populations, Articulate the Richmont Difference, and Grow Resources and Learning Infrastructure.
In response to this appointment, Dr. Rice states, “I am humbled to serve our students and our University’s mission in this new capacity. I am especially excited to accelerate the execution of our current Strategic Plan and to spearhead the development of new programs and resource pools, all toward the overall goal of expanding Richmont’s footprint in Atlanta, Chattanooga and online. I expect this to be a work of innovation, collaboration, and joy!”
With nearly twenty years of pastoral ministry experience, seventeen years of higher education teaching experience, ten years of senior leadership experience, fund-raising successes and service as a Trustee on the Board of Mount Paran Christian School, Dr. Rice brings a wealth of experience in areas and functions that only amplify Richmont’s mission, vision, and values. In addition, Dr. Rice’s tireless energy and entrepreneurial drive, macro-level perspective, and clear commitment to our mission will help elevate and catapult Richmont into the upper stratum of faith-based higher education institutions.
Richmont’s President, Dr. Timothy Quinnan, looks forward to working alongside Dr. Rice to advance Richmont towards its destiny of becoming a global leader in faith-based counseling and ministry education and destination of first-choice for the best and brightest.
Dr. Rice began his tenure as Acting Provost Monday, October 5th.
Dr. Keith Myers, Dean of Clinical Affairs and Associate Professor of Richmont Graduate University
1. What are your roles at Richmont Graduate University?
Yes, I work in two roles at Richmont. My first role is Associate Professor. This includes primarily teaching and advising students. I see both teaching and advising as equally vital to mentoring and developing students.
First, teaching in the classroom imparts theoretical and empirical knowledge while applying that knowledge to a real world clinical context. It’s teaching students how to sit with people in the midst of their darkness, and how to celebrate their joys and victories, and everything in between. Teaching is the primary reason I went back to school for my Ph.D. in my late 30s, and I’m so thankful I can teach at such a vibrant and strong community.
Second, I work from a developmental and interpersonal approach in my advising. I have a great passion for mentoring students in their professional careers, while providing support during their management of life. In my mind, advising is where the personal and professional most collide during their Richmont experience. Advising also provides important touch points for the student while navigating what can be a difficult program both academically and intrapersonally.
2. What do you love about working at Richmont Graduate University?
Well, that’s a good question. As I’ve recently begun my 5th year at Richmont, I’ve reflected on this several times. My love is mostly about the people. We have a wonderful faculty and we all like each other and get along well…you might be surprised how much this is not the case across academia.
So yes, I enjoy collaborating about teaching, writing, and mentoring students with our top-notch faculty. Our staff is also at the top of the game and should not be forgotten. They are usually juggling at least two hats and help us do the day-to-day operations. It’s nice to have a President who supports the faculty and serves as a visionary in making our university a national treasure and helping us develop a plan to achieve that goal. And then, for me chiefly, it’s the care for the students. Due to COVID-19, when we had to transition to fully online in most of the Spring and all of Summer, I missed the professional and personal interactions with the students and their presence in the classrooms. We have some of the finest, brightest, most resilient, and loving students bar none! And you know when these traits show the most? They show most when they begin sitting with clients in the sacred ground of darkness, and that is something I’m proudest of as I get to have a hand in that process of their becoming mental health first responders.
So essentially, this all comes down to what a lot of others have already noted that is distinctive at Richmont – we are RICH in community. And for that, it feels like this will be my academic home for a long time.
3. Many people are experiencing stress, anxiety, and depression due to the current global pandemic. Do you have any tips to help?
Absolutely, it’s such a stressful time for many people during this season of uncertainty on so many levels. For me, I’m noticing that it is easy to get out of rhythm or balance with everything going on now. So it has been helpful to remind myself to partake in an established Sabbath, a 24-hour period where I don’t do any work. I reflect about what God has done, and I spend time with family. This has a re-centering effect of sorts. Of course, I encourage those of us to continue with or reengage with therapy as these times have a way of evoking our shadow and personal issues. These two have been helpful for me. But, I think the most important piece in all of this collective traumatic experience is to give ourselves grace.
4. You have served on the Executive Board of Directors for the Military & Government Counseling Association (MGCA), a division of the American Counseling Association (ACA). Why are you passionate about counseling or mental health therapy for military veterans?
Well, it’s been an interesting journey. I tell students that I didn’t find my professional identity/niche until I had practiced 10 years in the field (So if that’s you reading this as a clinician, don’t give up!). After a few months of being unemployed, I secured a job at the Shepherd Center, a top-notch catastrophic care hospital in Atlanta for traumatic brain injury and spinal cord injury. At Shepherd Center, they have an excellent residential program for military members who acquired a brain injury during their service. It was shortly after I started there, that I realized that this population and acquiring additional training in trauma treatment deeply resonated with me. Personally, I realized why this was the case. My dad served in the Navy during WWII and both of my brothers served in various branches, and I realized that this was a good professional and personal fit for me due to the unique things about military culture and values that fit with who I was as a person. So serving on the Board of Directors with the Military & Government Counseling Association for two years made sense to me while empowering more counselors to get into military work.
5. I understand you are recently published, tell us more about the book?
I am so excited to talk about my first published book, Counseling veterans: A practical guide. This project was a labor of love with my co-author, Dr. David Lane. This book is primarily for graduate students who are training to serve in the mental health professions or for clinicians who want to obtain an introduction to the population and common clinical issues that arise. Each chapter includes a feature called Veteran Voices. This feature is taken from interviews with veterans about the chapter’s topic and really makes the material come alive. Other features include counseling sessions at a glance which provide a case vignette and a glimpse into what an actual session might look like exploring the topic at-hand. It is published by Cognella Academic Press, and readers can obtain a copy here: https://titles.cognella.com/counseling-veterans-9781793516268
Richmont Graduate University Confronts Injustice With Education, Dialogue, and Encouragement to Compassionate Action
The Richmont Graduate University community, with campuses in both Atlanta, GA, and Chattanooga, TN, is addressing head-on social injustice following the death of George Floyd and the protests it fueled across the country. Like many across the nation, the Richmont community is shocked, hurt, anxious, and committed to taking healing action. A specialized, faith-based university focused exclusively on Christian counseling and ministry, events of the last week became a call-to-action for our students, faculty, staff, and all people of conscience.
Dear Richmont Community,
We have collectively struggled through the sobering reality of the COVID-19 pandemic. Difficult as this experience has been, recent tragic events in our nation have tested us even further. As followers of Christ, we must acknowledge the truth of these troubling events. More importantly, we must reaffirm our shared quest for a just, compassionate, and equitable society. Our faith makes this pursuit attainable.
Richmont is committed to being a safe and affirming place where every person matters. As a body of believers, when any part of us is hurting, we all feel the pain. To be part of the cure, we must rely on prayer, education, and action. We encourage all students, faculty, and staff to better understand the realities of present-day injustice and take positive action, starting with these steps:
1. Continue to Pray. Pray for true healing, reconciliation, and – most of all – true change in our nation.
2. Educate Yourself. Learn about the history of injustice in the United States and around the world. Do your research. Read books, subscribe to podcasts, and listen to those who continue to experience injustice in their lives.
3. Take Action. Talk with others who desire to be similarly committed, and work to find your unique avenue for social advocacy.
Dr. Timothy Quinnan, President
Dr. Sonja Sutherland, Director, Office of Diversity & Inclusion
Dr. Amanda Blackburn, Dean of Students