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Richmont Continues Record Enrollment Trend

Richmont Graduate University has achieved another remarkable record enrollment this Spring of three hundred and sixty-one students.

As students and faculty began the 2023 Spring semester, Richmont welcomed its largest number of students engaged in courses at both Atlanta and Chattanooga campuses, a thriving online counseling program, and a newly established doctoral cohort.

At a time when many graduate institutions have struggled to maintain sustainable enrollment numbers, Richmont’s semester-to-semester retention rates remain at 98%. Roxie Shellabarger, Vice President of Administration, attributes this to “the incredible investment of Richmont staff and faculty into students, as well as Richmont’s emphasis on community and self-care”.

Dr. Preston Hill Contributes to New Workbook and Podcast

After launching an online class integrating theology and psychology, Blueprint 1543 noticed that students of their TheoPsych classes had some questions our students at Richmont also have around integration. Many of these questions had really practical implications: Can insights from social psychology help us run church meetings better? How do I know if I should see a therapist or talk to my pastor? Is there such a thing as “thriving” amid a severe mental illness?

We’re thankful that our community and others are thinking about things like this, and we hope that these 8 episodes will help prompt more conversation in the church about these important issues. One of the episodes features Dr. Hill addressing trauma, theology, and mental health.

Click Here to Explore the Podcast Series and Download the Workbook

After Trial Period, Richmont Permanently Adopts 4-day Work Week

During the fall semester of 2022, Richmont Graduate University experimented with an innovative four-day operating schedule. The intent was to enhance employee wellness, workplace satisfaction, collaboration, and productivity. Near the term’s end, President Timothy Quinnan created a leadership team to assess its impact.

Vice Presidents of Administration and Student Affairs, Roxie Shellabarger and Dr. Amanda Blackburn, respectively, spearheaded this evaluative effort. Utilizing focus groups and productivity reviews conducted by management, the pilot initiative was deemed a major success. As Dr. Blackburn notes, “Staff noted increased collaboration, life-balance, the ability to work ‘smarter’, and an appreciation for how much value the University truly placed on their well-being.”

“We are so pleased to see the outcomes including higher levels of efficiency and productivity, but just as importantly, greater happiness in the workplace and at home. We believe this shift in work culture will elevate knowledge generation, as well exert a continuing beneficial effect on every member of our community,” Dr. Quinnan asserts.

To read more about Richmont’s Thrive Initiative, click here.

Christ’s Body Keeps the Score

Trauma-Informed Theology and the Neuroscience of PTSD

by Preston Hill

Abstract: Recent findings in neuroscience and psychology indicate that “the body keeps the score” of PTSD. Concurrently, trauma-informed theology to date has deployed pneumatology to explain how God experiences trauma in the Christian narrative of salvation. Yet, in Christian theology, the divine person of the Holy Spirit has no assumed human body. This raises an important question as to whether a body is needed for God to keep the score of posttraumatic stress in a manner consistent with neuroscience and how this might shape one’s account of trauma in Christian soteriology. In this article, I take an analytic science-engaged approach to assess the viability of dominant proposals in trauma-informed theology which deploy trauma theory to assert God’s experience of trauma and explain this experience with exclusive reference to pneumatology. After reviewing clinical and scientific research on the neuroscience of PTSD which has been neglected in these approaches, I argue that Christology is a more obviously fitting locus for suggesting God’s experience of trauma within Christian soteriology than the person of the Holy Spirit. I conclude that since the body keeps the score of trauma from a scientific perspective, Christ’s body keeps the score of trauma from a science-engaged theology perspective.

Download the PDF Article

Richmont Achieves Record Enrollment

Richmont Graduate University has achieved an unprecedented total enrollment this fall of three hundred and fifty-one students.

In the opening week of the fall 2022 semester, Richmont welcomed its largest number of students engaged in courses at both Atlanta and Chattanooga campuses, a thriving online counseling program and an inaugural doctoral cohort.

Central to this semester’s celebration is the largest cohort of School of Ministry students in its history. “What is most exciting for me about this record enrollment is that students are evenly spread out through each of our School of Ministry programs,” comments Travis Young, Assistant Dean of the School of Ministry. “It’s an exhilarating time in the School of Ministry and I am so grateful for the excellent Admissions team who had an integral role in making this happen!”

Michelle West, Director of Admissions, adds, “The Office of Admissions is excited about the enrollment success for the Fall 2022 academic semester! The team has worked diligently to maintain excellent communication with each prospective student, and we are rejoicing in the fruit of this labor. We feel honored to walk alongside each applicant as they prepare for this new chapter on their journey. I am grateful for each member of my team and the leadership of this great University. The best is yet to come!”

Richmont Launches First Doctoral Cohort

This month, Richmont Graduate University is celebrating the launch of an inaugural cohort in its Doctor of Ministry in Spiritual Formation and Leadership program. “This degree signifies our ongoing commitment to Christ-centered spiritual formation which is at the heart of our institutional mission and identity,” comments Dr. Preston Hill, Director of the Doctor of Ministry Program. “For too long, the disciplines of spiritual formation and theology have been set at odds with one another. In our Doctor of Ministry Program, we are experiencing the exhilarating truth that they are ancient friends in the ministry of holistic transformation.”

Richmont’s Doctor of Ministry offering is focused on two dimensions that are integral to the work of both pastors and Christian counselors: spiritual formation and leadership. With a blend of rigorous theological study and practical ministry projects, this program goes beyond the master’s level to equip a new generation of ministry leaders to serve their congregations, clients, and communities in transformative ways. To learn more about the program, visit Richmont Graduate University Academics

Richmont to Pilot Four-day Workweek this Fall

On August 15, 2022, the University will move to an innovative four-day workweek for staff and faculty. The goal is to support the personal wellness of employees in a manner that aligns with core missional values of self-restoration and renewal. After proposing this idea to the Board of Trustees, President Quinnan secured their unanimous approval. As he observed, “The pandemic forever altered traditional views on work as well as work-life balance. We all saw how alternative business models produced outcomes equal or superior to the status quo. We also realized that by simply working smarter instead of longer, we could raise employee satisfaction along with productivity.”

Administrative and instructional staff are excited about this experimental program. Emily Avery, Assistant Registrar, noted:

“Coming from a workplace in which the leadership had no interest in investing in the well-being of their employees, I am amazed at the consideration of the whole administrative team in this endeavor. I have deep gratitude for the leadership at Richmont as we pursue the four-day work week.”

Later this autumn, an evaluation of this pilot will occur to determine whether it is adopted permanently. To better understand Richmont’s commitment to student and employee health and wellness, click here to learn about its Thrive Wellness Initiative.

Richmont Achieves 100% Passage Rate of the National Counselor Exam

Richmont’s Clinical Mental Health Counseling program celebrates a 100% passage rate on the National Counselor Examination in 2022 – significantly exceeding the national average and poising graduates for incredible impact on the mental health field and within their communities.

“Each year, most graduating students in the School of Counseling elect to take the National Counselor Exam (NCE) which is required for licensure in most states. We are very pleased to announce that, for the second time in fifteen years, Richmont students taking the NCE had a 100% pass rate in 2022. To put this in perspective, the national pass rate this year was 63%. The average score for Richmont students was 120 points while the average score nationally was 108 points. Since 2008, our average pass rate has been 97% for students taking the exam for the first time, which is much higher than the national average. These consistent results demonstrate the excellence of our program, the quality of our faculty, and the dedication of our students. We are immensely proud of these men and women for this accomplishment.”

  • Dr. Cara Cochran
    Dean of the School of Counseling, Richmont Graduate University

Richmont Graduate University Welcomes New Faculty Members

Richmont Graduate University Welcomes New Faculty Members

Seven New Members Join the Richmont Graduate University Faculty

Richmont Graduate University, a fast-growing, Christian graduate school hires seven new faculty members to join the team. Richmont provides master’s-level training in clinical mental health counseling, as well as ministry, in Atlanta, Chattanooga, and online. With a growing team of 18 full-time faculty, Richmont hopes to expand its footprint in the Atlanta and Chattanooga markets with these new team members.

Among these members are Jenny Chein, Laura Land, Brian Mesimer, Matt Casada, Stephanie Keane, Andrew Morse, and Emily Aikins. They will be joining Richmont Graduate University’s faculty staff, effective starting August 1, 2022.

“All of our professors are expected to be professor-practitioners and are expected to practice or supervise as an LPC, MFT, or Psychologist in addition to their teaching in the CMHC Counselor Education program,” said Dr. Steve Bradshaw, Dean of the School of Counseling at Richmont Graduate University. “This enriches our student experience in the classroom by having the ability to share confidentially real case studies in the learning process.”

Richmont Graduate University specifically looks for faculty members who are diverse, professionally-trained, and willing to integrate their faith into the content of counselor education training. 

“Richmont’s hiring process is rigorous, involving not just an online interview, but integration prompts, a teaching sample, and often a campus visit,” said Dr. Joshua Rice, Richmont Graduate University Provost. “Those who are ultimately considered have an obvious love for students and an approach to teaching counseling courses that integrates their expertise in the field with a committed Christian faith.”

See below for a biography and more information on each new faculty member:

Jenny Chien

Jenny Chien has served as an Assistant Professor of Counseling for Grand Rapids Theological Seminary since 2017. Chein received her Ph.D. in Counseling at Florida Atlantic University and is a Licensed Professional Counselor and Licensed Mental Health Counselor. She is looking forward to joining the counseling team at Richmont Graduate University as an Associate Professor.

“I am thrilled to join the Counseling Program at Richmont Faculty,” said Chien. “What excites me most is to be working in a faith-based program that is both CACREP-accredited and values meaningful Christian integration.  I am looking forward to working with my faculty colleagues who are well-established in the field and getting to know the diverse student body.”

Laura Land

Laura Land has professional experience in teaching counseling and psychology since 2014 and has served as a supervisor since 2015. Land received her Doctorate of Philosophy in Counseling and Counselor Education from The University of North Carolina at Greensboro. She brings six years of clinical experience to Richmont’s team and is looking forward to her new role as an Associate Professor.

“I love Richmont’s student-centered approach in the design of their counseling program so students feel empowered to choose a plan of progression that works for their stations in life,” said Land. “This speaks to another element I respect, which is a true care for and emphasis on equity, diversity, and inclusion.”

Brian Mesimer

Brian Mesimer joins Richmont after serving as an adjunct instructor of counseling at Grand Rapids Theological Seminary. He received his doctorate degree in Counselor Education and Supervision from the University of Cumberlands in May of 2022. Mesimer holds a certificate in group crisis intervention and is a licensed professional counselor and National Board Certified Counselor. He is looking forward to joining the Richmont team as an Assistant Professor.

“I’m thrilled to be part of the faculty at a university which makes the integration of the Christian message in counseling a priority,” said Mesimer. “Richmont has a reputation for forming competent and compassionate counselors, and I am looking forward to being a part of that process.”

Matt Casada

Matt Casada joins the Richmont team as an Assistant Professor. Casada is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor and a qualified Clinical Supervisor. He received his doctorate degree in Counselor Education and Supervision from Regent University. Casada is also a member of the American Counseling Association, Association for Creativity in Counseling, Florida Mental Health Counselors Association, and many more.

“I am thrilled to join the Richmont faculty where I can be part of a team of faculty and staff who are investing in the growth and development of our students, both personally and professionally,” said Casada. “I look forward to the opportunity to engage Richmont students in a relational and experiential manner.”

Stephanie Keane

Stephanie Keane is looking forward to her new role as Assistant Professor at Richmont. Keane received her Ph.D. in Counselor Education and Supervision from Indiana University of Pennsylvania, where she graduated with a 4.0 GPA. Keane plans to put her skills to use at Richmont as a Licensed Professional Counselor.

“I believe that God has led me in my path as a counselor educator and brought me to Richmont Graduate University knowing I would be welcomed with open arms,” said Keane. “I feel as though I am already a part of the Richmont family and I am very excited to continue to get to know the faculty and students at this incredible institution.”

Andrew Morse

Andrew Morse received his Doctorate of Philosophy in Counselor Education and Supervision from Mercer University. More is a Licensed Professional Counselor, Nationally Certified Counselor, and a Prepare/Enrich Certified Facilitator. Andrew will join the Richmont team as an Assistant Professor.

“I feel so blessed to be joining the team at Richmont,” said Morse. “I’m looking forward to working alongside the faculty and staff to help students in their personal, spiritual, and professional development as they grow to become skilled and compassionate mental health counselors!”

Emily Aikins

Emily Aikins is in the process of receiving her Ph.D. in Marriage and Family Therapy at Lee University. Aikins comes to the Richmont team with experience as an Adjunct Professor and is a Licensed Marital and Family Therapist. She is looking forward to her new role as an Instructor at Richmont Graduate University.

“As an alumna, I am thrilled to be a part of continuing the excellent training provided by Richmont,” said Aikins. “Walking alongside students as they become counselors and therapists while discovering more about who they are and who God is, is one of the most exciting elements of being a part of Richmont faculty.”

For more information on our faculty and staff, visit

Dr. Michael Jones Contributes to “The Thoughtful Counselor” Podcast