Belhaven University’s newest campus in Chattanooga will honor its graduating students at their first commencement ceremony.
Students, most of them working adults, went through the adult studies programs at Belhaven University Chattanooga and will receive their diplomas at commencement on May 4, in the First Presbyterian Church at 6:30 p.m. The commencement speaker for Belhaven Chattanooga’s graduation ceremony will be Dr. Niel Nielson, President of Covenant College.
Virginia M. Garrison, Director of Student Services, said, “We are excited that this will be the first Belhaven University commencement in Chattanooga! Since most of our new graduates were Covenant College students when the Quest program transferred to Belhaven University in 2010, it seems fitting that the keynote speaker is Covenant’s President, Dr. Niel Nielson. We proudly congratulate our new graduates on this academic achievement!”
Dr. Nielson was born and raised in a pastor’s home in Dallas, Tx. He attended Wheaton College, majoring in philosophy, singing in the Men’s Glee Club, and playing varsity tennis. He also met his wife Kathleen Buswell there. Dr. Nielson’s M.A. and Ph.D. are both in philosophy, from Vanderbilt University.
After Vanderbilt, Dr. Nielson taught philosophy at Bethel College, teaching introductory and advanced courses. In 1984, the Nielsons moved to the Chicago area, where he worked in the financial markets, human resources, and venture capital with the Chicago Research and Trading Group and NationsBank, and in mergers and acquisitions with The ServiceMaster Company.
Beginning in 1990, Dr. Nielson and family attended College Church in Wheaton, Ill. where he served as Chairman of the Council of Elders, and where, in 1997, he was invited to join the College Church pastoral staff as Associate Pastor of Outreach. Niel was ordained to the gospel ministry at College Church and is an ordained Ruling Elder in the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA).
In July 2002, Dr. Nielson became the fifth president of Covenant College, a Christian liberal arts college on Lookout Mountain, GA. The Nielsons attend Lookout Mountain Presbyterian Church. Dr. Nielson serves on the Boards of Directors of a large family of publicly traded investment funds, Covenant Transport, Inc., The Maclellan Foundation, Inc., and Allied Arts of Chattanooga.
The Nielsons have three grown sons, two daughters-in-law, and two granddaughters.