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2019 Commencement Speaker: Dr. Rhonda Milner

Saturday, May 11th Richmont Graduate University will hold its forty-sixth commencement ceremony. The event will take place at Ridgedale Baptist Church in Chattanooga, Tennessee and will honor graduates from Richmont’s School of Counseling and School of Ministry programs.

This year’s commencement speaker is Dr. Rhonda Milner. Dr. Milner is a physician, counselor, spiritual director, minister, poet,  and best-selling author who also serves on the Board of Trustees for Richmont. She completed her undergraduate education at the University of Georgia and then went on to graduate from the Emory School of Medicine. Dr. Milner is a board-certified radiologist and maintains a current Georgia medical license.

Dr. Milner is a graduate of Richmont Graduate University where she earned a Master of Arts in Professional Counseling and a Master of Arts in Ministry. She has specializations in Addictions Counseling, Counseling and Spirituality, and Spiritual Direction. She completed a two-year study with the Renovaré Institute in Christian discipleship and spiritual formation in 2013. She is a licensed professional counselor who also practices as a spiritual director in private practice at Chattahoochee Counseling Center, where she sees clients that could not typically afford counseling.

Dr. Milner is also the founder of Healing Presence Ministry, a global social media and internet ministry based on her poetry and spiritual writings with a following of almost 3 million. Her first book, The Mended Heart: a Poet’s Journey through Love, Suffering, and Hope, is a bestseller in Christian poetry. Her manuscript, The Signature of God: His Name Written into Our Lives and the World, is due to be released in July 2019.  More information on her ministry can be found at healingpresenceministry.com

Rhonda, a native of Atlanta, lives with her husband of 36 years and their six dogs. She is the mother of 4 children, having lost her oldest son at age 25 in 2011. Her son died from accidental drowning. She subsequently started a nonprofit to raise awareness, which can be found at shallowwaterblackoutprevention.org

Richmont Faculty Publish Article on Attachment and Spiritual Formation

Richmont Graduate University faculty members Daniel Sartor, Ph.D.; Cara Cochran, Ph.D.; Amanda Blackburn, Psy.D.; Mary Plisco, Psy.D.; and Jama White, Psy.D. published an article titled “The Role of Attachment in Spiritual Formation at Richmont Graduate University.” The article is featured in the latest edition of The Journal of Spiritual Formation and Soul Care, a publication of the Institute of Spiritual Formation at Biola University.

The article describes the model of how Richmont provides spiritual formation training in its counseling programs. “This model of spiritual formation has a dual foundation which includes the centrality of love to the Christian life and the importance of attachment to the development of persons. The training is intentionally designed to invite students to pursue a more secure attachment to God, healthier relationships with others, and a more grace-based self-awareness.”

You can access the article via the Journal of Spiritual Formation and Soul Care website: Link to Article

To learn more about Richmont’s CACREP accredited Master of Arts in Clinical Mental Health Counseling and how faith is integrated into the program, connect with our Admissions Team or attend an upcoming Preview Day.

Richmont Receives 10-Year Reaccreditation

Richmont Graduate University has received 10-year institutional reaccreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools(SACSCOC). The vote to reaffirm Richmont was held at the SACSCOC annual meeting this past week in New Orleans, Louisiana.

Accreditation by SACSCOC signifies that the institution (1) has a mission appropriate to higher education, (2) has resources, programs, and services sufficient to accomplish and sustain that mission, and (3) maintains clearly specified educational objectives that are consistent with its mission and appropriate to the degrees it offers and that indicate whether it is successful in achieving its stated objectives.1

Regional accreditation by SACSCOC is considered the gold standard for higher education institutions and signifies academic and administrative excellence. The Richmont faculty and staff have worked diligently to achieve this important milestone and are committed to a process of continual assessment and improvement. More information on accreditation can be found on the SACSCOC website: www.sacscoc.org

 

1 – College Delegate Assembly. “The Principles of Accreditation: Foundations for Quality Enhancement.” Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, 2018, www.sacscoc.org.

Milestones 2018

This year’s annual review, newly titled “Milestones” features a letter from President Dr. Timothy Quinnan, a faculty spotlight with Dr. Sonja Sutherland, academic program updates, and new scholarship programs. Click below to read more about the exciting growth and important accomplishments from the 2017-2018 school year at Richmont Graduate University.

Link to Online Version of Milestones

 

Richmont School of Ministry Launches New Program

Richmont Graduate University’s School of Ministry is proud to announce the addition of the Master of Arts in Ministry: Anglican Studies Concentration. This new 36 credit hour program is available online and includes four unique sections:

  • Bible, History, and Theology
  • Ministry Tools
  • Spiritual Formation
  • Anglican Studies

The launch of this program also includes the availability of a Graduate Certificate in Anglican Studies which is 12 credit hours. This new certificate focuses on the specific Anglican Studies courses from the Master of Arts degree.

Roughly 80 million Christians identify with the Anglican tradition, making it one of most dynamic and vital expressions of the Protestant church in the contemporary world. For the vast majority of Anglicans–especially the tens of millions located outside the West–the contemporary tensions and debates within the Christian faith mean the time has come for a renewed commitment to the text of scripture and engagement with our treasured theological traditions. This course of study focuses on these impulses within Anglicanism, seeking to equip future leaders with tools in biblical study, theology, and history, and encouraging their engagement with contemporary ecclesial concerns.

– Sam Youngs, Ph.D., Richmont School of Ministry Faculty, Director of the Mission School of Ministry

This program was developed in partnership with the Mission School of Ministry in Chattanooga, Tennessee, and provides education and skills that are helpful for students who are aspiring deacons or priests in the ACNA. The program is also open to lay Christians seeking to deepen their academic knowledge of Biblical literature, theology, and spiritual formation. Applications are now being accepted for this program with a start date of January 2019.

Learn more about the Master of Arts in Ministry: Anglican Studies Concentration (click here).

Start your application for the Master of Arts in Ministry: Anglican Studies Concentration (click here).

School of Ministry Adds New Faculty

Richmont Graduate University is proud to announce the addition of three new professors to the School of Ministry faculty.  Dr. Wesley Scott Biddy, Dr. Chris Green, and Dr. Jeff Horner will be joining the Richmont faculty this fall. These new hires are in response to the growth of the School of Ministry both in the number of new students and the new programs that are in development.

Dr. Wesley Scott Biddy

Wesley Scott Biddy earned a B.A. and an M.A. at Lee University, a Th.M. at Duke Divinity School, and a Ph.D. at Marquette University. Dr. Biddy has presented papers at conferences organized by the American Academy of Religion, the Conference on Christianity and Literature, the South Atlantic Modern Language Association, and the Society for Pentecostal Studies, among others. His articles have appeared in Pneuma and Ars Disputandi. He joins Richmont having most recently taught at Mount Paran Christian School.

Dr. Chris Green

Chris Green earned a B.S. and an M.M. at Southwestern Christian University, an M.S.T.S at Southwestern Assemblies of God University, a D.Min. at Oral Roberts University, and a Ph.D. at Bangor University. Dr. Green has served as faculty at Pentecostal Theological Seminary, Southwestern Christian University, Mid-American University, and Oral Roberts University. His research and writing focus on the relationship of vocation, holiness, and scriptural hermeneutics.

Dr. Jeff Horner

Jeff Horner earned a B.A. at the University of North Carolina (Chapel Hill), an M.A. and an Ed.D. at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, and an M.Litt. degree at the University of Bristol in England. Dr. Horner has spent 17 years working in independent Christian schools in North Carolina, California, and Georgia.  He has worked as a contractor for the College Board and served on SAIS Accreditation and SAIS Reading teams. Dr. Horner has served as adjunct faculty at Southern Baptist Theological University and Point University. He has published articles in The Journal of Church and State, Religious Education, Christian Education Journal, and has a forthcoming article in Perichoresis.

 

New RGU Commons at the Atlanta Campus

Dr. Quinnan builds the RGU Commons at the Atlanta Campus for students, faculty, and staff.

The RGU Commons is an outdoor seating area that was made possible through a gift from the President and the Student Annual Fund. The RGU Commons is located on the west side of the Atlanta Campus and is ready and open for students, faculty, and staff to enjoy.  It features a permanent weatherproof outdoor table and seating. The new RGU Commons is in response to student requests for outdoor seating areas.

There is plenty of room for expansion of the RGU Commons. If you would like to donate to help expand the RGU Commons, you can do so by going to richmont.edu/give and making a tax-deductible donation.

Latest Edition of Connecting Magazine Available Online

Connecting Spring 2018

Connecting Magazine is a publication for Richmont alumni and constituents. The latest issue features an interview with President Timothy Quinnan, campus updates, information on the new Richmont app, alumni profiles, and a recap of the 2017 Alumni Reunion. Enjoy the latest edition by clicking below. In an effort to be good stewards of our resources, Richmont will be printing less hard copies and will be making publications available online through our website and monthly newsletters. Connecting will also be available under the Alumni section of the Richmont website.

 

Choosing the Right School

Maybe choosing a graduate school is a no-brainer for you. Maybe the ordeal of choosing your undergraduate school taught you what to look for. Perhaps you know exactly what you want, or you at least have an idea or two. Or maybe you don’t. And that’s okay because there are a lot of factors that go into choosing not just the right school, but the school that is best for you and your specific needs.

But before you dive into research, the best first step is to perform a personal inventory: take time to think about who you are and why you have decided to pursue a graduate degree. You might not reach definitive answers, but evaluating your personal reasons for graduate school will better help you navigate decision making. Here are four key elements to get you started thinking through graduate school options.

Faith and Integration

How much do you want your faith to coalesce with your learning experience? There are varying models of how Christians approach counseling: some view psychology apart from a biblical critique, and some strongly critique modern psychological insights. And still, other schools have “integrated” programs of Christian theology and psychology, such as Richmont Graduate University. Dr. Dan Sartor, Richmont’s Vice President of Integration, says,  “. . . while many other institutions teach from a Christian worldview, very few actually incorporate integrative studies in Christian theology and spiritual formation,” which is precisely Richmont’s nuanced model. More than teach from a Christian perspective, Richmont integrates theology with science in the classroom. When choosing a school, reflect on its approach to counseling in relation to your understanding of faith and learning.                        

Training Opportunities 

Most if not all graduate schools will require practicum experience or internships upon graduating. At Richmont, however, students are guaranteed internship experience from the very beginning of their educational experience. Richmont’s clinical training sequence was designed for students to build their set of specialized counseling skills, culminating with an internship in their final year. Beyond simply offering internships, determine how strong the school’s connections are to the surrounding community. Does the school, like Richmont, have strong relationships and positive reputations with local hospitals and counseling centers? Is the school likely to help you secure an internship placement if it is not guaranteed? Lastly, what is the school’s view on the relationship between biblical knowledge and scientific data, and how does it affect its training model?                             

Faculty

Because graduate school is a smaller, more concentrated and specialized experience than undergrad, it is important to evaluate the school’s faculty. How many professors are there to students? How experienced are they in their fields, and do they still practice? Depending on the availability of the faculty, the amount of time you spend with them will vary. In graduate school, it is important to find a faculty that has the time and passion and experience to properly mentor you in your field. One-on-one time with professors is priceless. Do your research into the school’s faculty and try to find professors who not only specialize in your preferred study but who also will know and care for you individually. 

Accreditation

A school’s most recent accreditation is like a dental hygiene report card: it gives you a good idea of the institution’s current health. Accreditations are either institutional or specialized. Specialized accreditation, such as CACREP, reviews a professional preparation program within institutions, which is important for graduate schools. It gives you insights into a program’s fulfillment of its “institutional settings, mission and objectives, content, practicum experiences, student selection and advising, faculty qualifications and workload, program governance, instructional support, and self-evaluation,” according to CACREP’s website. A specialized accreditation score goes beyond spotlighted and flashy factors like school rankings, ratings, and brands—they prove the financial and professional stability of a specific program. Richmont currently holds a CACREP specialized accreditation, which is the highest form of accreditation given to counseling degree-specific programs in the U.S.

After you have done the research, the most important next step is to talk to people on the ground. Once you have narrowed down a few schools, ask the admissions office for the contact information of a few current students or alumni. Talk to the students about their experience, ask them questions and learn from their stories. And remember you do not have to be alone in choosing a school—ask for advice and prayer from trusted friends and family.

How do I pay for my education?

How do I pay for my education? You’ve likely asked yourself this question if you are applying for graduate school. The answer can seem elusive at times.

As someone who works as a Director of Admissions, I wish paying for graduate school was an easy and obvious process. There is no one-size-fits-all solution. Every student’s situation is unique. However, I do know that we are ready to help—you don’t have to figure out the finances on your own.

For many people, the idea of taking out (or taking on more) student loans can be crippling. I have seen the fear of loans keep people from pursuing the career they have felt called to for decades. That fear is normal. The fear of being responsible for debt is often a fairly healthy thing. We are a culture reacting against a recession we witnessed that exhibited the effects of unjustified or irresponsible debt.

However, we also have a responsibility to be good stewards of not just our financial resources, but also our talents and skills. Your talents are worth the investment. There’s a proven return on investment for those who complete graduate school.

How are we to feel if we neglect our skill or ability to be of service to others who are hurting just because we are fearful of student loans? Student loans are not monsters waiting to devour us. If we are responsible enough to research and understand our loans, then we may be able to use them as tools and resources to fulfill our own careers and callings.

At Richmont, our Admissions and Enrollment team works to inform you about all the resources available to you before you start your graduate school education. We offer three forms of financial aids for students:

With these three forms of aid, we have been able to help thousands of counselors and ministers fulfill their calling to do God’s work of healing, restoration, and transformation in the lives of individuals, churches, and communities.

We feel very fortunate to be able to provide private scholarships to our students. We recognize that not many graduate programs are able to offer their own scholarships or even help their students qualify for financial aid. Occasionally, we hear of students from other programs who were awarded their graduate or terminal degree on a “full ride.”

However, awards known as “full rides” are rarely fully explained or understood. Typically, the recipient of a full ride will have a job or two on campus as part of their “fellowship award.” Richmont departs from these types of awards. Instead, we offer our students scholarships that do not require them to work or serve any purpose other than being a student. This is not typical of graduate universities. We want our students to be able to have time with their families and friends, to even pursue a part-time job.

The Graduate Assistant (GA) jobs that Richmont offers are part-time positions for students to help the school serve other students by operating the Atlanta and the Chattanooga campuses. The positions range from 5 hours to 20 hours per week, and the student receives a competitive hourly wage. Work schedules for GA jobs automatically fit students’ class schedules—they are logistically more convenient than working off-campus jobs.

Applying for GA jobs on each campus is competitive, and pursuing one of these positions is similar to applying for a real job. Prospective students should inquire with their Admissions Counselors early in the process if they’re interested in GA jobs. The more counselors know incoming students, the better the counselor can recommend them for certain jobs, like the records office, the library, or assisting faculty.

Unfortunately, most of the public grants, foundations, lottery scholarships, or “free money” that assisted you in your undergraduate education are not available for your graduate education. Instead, we seek to provide federal financial aid resources and services to all of our students, especially those who may not be familiar with FAFSA or Federal Student Aid.

The Admissions and Finance staff works to create open and transparent conversations about how to use and plan for student loans and to not default on them. Richmont is ranked first overall with a 0.00% default rate, listed on The Student Loan Report’s 2017 Default Rates. And for students who want to pay for their education independently, we help them create realistic payment plans.

Talk to someone. That’s the first step in understanding the financial aid resources available to you. I always recommend that you meet with school staff, current students, or alumni who have experienced what you are about to experience. Talking to them can help you normalize the anxiety you have about new financial responsibilities. You are not alone in what you are feeling, and it is fine to feel that way!

And more than just talking to people, try to learn from them. Chat with people who have been able to pay off their student loans, listen to their experiences, and learn how you can achieve your goals. There is no one universal solution to paying for graduate school or student loans. But don’t forget you have people around you with stories and experiences that can speak into your own understanding and preparation for graduate school.