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Articles By: Richmont Graduate University

Alumni Advisory Council Announces $10k Match for Richmont’s Building Campaign

ATLANTA, GA – (October 6, 2014)

On September 15, Richmont’s Alumni Advisory Council announced a dollar for dollar matching gift up to $10,000 in support of the renovations on the new Atlanta campus location.

“This matching challenge is an extraordinarily generous gift to the university,” said Richmont’s president, Bob Rodgers. “Engaged alumni are critical to the health and well-being of Richmont. I am extremely grateful that we have a group of thankful givers who are encouraging others to join them in the process. The margin that they help us create allows us to tenaciously pursue Richmont’s mission.”

The goal of this fundraising effort is to secure funds for classrooms in Richmont’s new location. The hope is that, thanks to this $10,000 match, that a total of $20,000 will be raised to name one of the classrooms in honor of the university’s alumni.

“The 10k Alumni Match Campaign provides Richmont Alumni with a wonderful opportunity to participate in giving and to help celebrate the new campus,” said Lavinia Myers, Chair of the Alumni Council. “This campaign empowers current and future students to enhance their learning while advancing the Richmont community in a tangible way.”

Additionally, current Alumni Council Member, Lisa Byrd, said, “Many of us had life changing experiences during our time at Richmont, and we have an amazing opportunity to give that same experience to current and upcoming students by sponsoring a classroom. Please join us in creating an atmosphere of love, acceptance, and learning that far surpasses any other. There’s no better place to have the foundation for counseling laid!”

Please prayerfully consider how you might participate and support the future of Richmont’s legacy. Our goal is to finish the $10,000 match by December 31. Individuals interested in contributing may connect in the following ways:

  • Click here to give online via the Richmont web site. Simply direct your donation to the “alumni match” in the gift designation drop down window.
  • Phone: 404-835-6118
  • Email: Christianna Luy at
  • Mail: Richmont Graduate University, 2055 Mt. Paran Road NW, Atlanta, GA 30327

Richmont Professor Travels to Uganda to Teach Counselors

ATLANTA, GA – (September 30, 2014)

This fall, Sonja Sutherland, one of Richmont’s newest faculty members in the School of Counseling, traveled to Mukono, Uganda in collaboration with Regent University to teach master’s level counselors and therapists. This was Professor Sutherland’s third trip to Africa, and her second to Uganda. Her team conducted classes for about 100 people through Uganda Christian University on assessment, counseling as a science, and counselor supervision.

“Having been to Uganda before on evangelist mission, this trip was different because it was a perfect melding of my personal mission and professional passion for teaching,” said Sutherland. “Being able to serve in this way in a country where there are so few counseling and counselor-training resources was very exciting.”

Preparing to finish her Ph.D. dissertation this fall through Regent, Sutherland taught a lecture series on supervision including models of supervision, developing the supervisory alliance, self supervising skills, evaluation, and more. While the lecture series went exceptionally well, Sutherland was reminded of the patriarchal society that still heavily rules families and dictates behavior in Uganda. Because societal traditions remain that are considered clinically detrimental on the individual level, the team was challenged to work collaboratively with Ugandan counselors and counselors-in-training to create unique interventions that would be effective within their cultural norms.

“At present, there are no systems in place to confront some of the more harmful traditions,” said Sutherland. “While my team and I didn’t anticipate encountering such controversial and challenging clinical dilemmas linked to traditional Ugandan culture, I believe we were still able to provide many effective resources to help Christian counselors, counselors-in-training, and the newly established Uganda Counseling Association. Many indicated they felt better equipped to impact their culture in ways they deemed most important and most critical for the public benefit.”

As a result of this trip, Uganda Christian University has expressed an interest in developing a partnership with Richmont in order to welcome more teaching teams and hopefully even counseling interns.

Highland Park Mission to Utilize Sanctuary Space at Richmont

CHATTANOOGA, TN – (September 11, 2014)

After renting the sanctuary at Richmont Graduate University for 10 years, Anglican Church of the Redeemer has purchased the former Trinity Presbyterian Church in Brainerd, Tennessee. With the sanctuary space available at Richmont, the Highland Park Chapel congregation of the Mission Chattanooga signed a lease on August 27, 2014 to utilize Richmont’s property.

“Our partnership with Anglican Church of the Redeemer has been a blessing over the past 10 years. We couldn’t be more excited for them as they begin ministry in their new building,” said Bob Rodgers, Richmont’s President. “Simultaneously, we are excited that a branch campus of the Mission Chattanooga has decided to take advantage of the university’s sanctuary space. We look forward to growing our partnership and friendship for many years to come.”

With worship services beginning in September, the Redeemer staff is looking forward to expanding their ministries and becoming more available to their neighborhood in their new building.

“The Anglican Church of the Redeemer is overjoyed to have her first permanent property,” said Brice Ullman, Redeemer’s Rector. “We have clearly seen God’s provision for us by providing us with this excellent facility; however, we are mindful that God has always provided for us, especially through the kindness and hospitality of Richmont where we had worshiped for nearly a decade.  We are grateful for the relationships we have with these wonderful people and we are glad to know their sanctuary will continue to be used for worship by another congregation.”

Similarly, for the past 18 months, the Highland Park Chapel has met weekly at the St. Andrews Center in downtown Chattanooga. During this time, the church has outgrown their current space as over 100 people are typically in attendance on Sunday morning.

“Those of us at Mission Chattanooga feels called to plant neighborhood specific congregations throughout Chattanooga in order to be a blessing and serve the specific needs of those communities,” said Pastor Ben Ferguson. “Richmont offers an amazing location because it is right in the middle of five important downtown neighborhoods: Highland Park, Bushtown, Churchville, Glenwood and Rigdale. We are overjoyed not only that we will have room to grow in Richmont’s sanctuary, but also that God has given us the opportunity to worship in such a beautiful and historic church. Most of all, we are excited about the future strategic partnership with Richmont Graduate University. The Mission Chattanooga is the home church for many Richmont Students and counselors and I know the Lord will use each of our gifts and abilities to bless and serve the city of Chattanooga.”

The Richmont Community Counseling Center Welcomes New Bilingual Therapist

CHATTANOOGA, TN (September 10, 2014)

In August, the Richmont Community Counseling Center (RCCC) hired Rebeca Durand as the Center’s new bilingual counselor. Durand will fill Ani Hernandez-Johnson’s role at the RCCC as Johnson transitions to serve clients at Richmont’s Henegar/CBI Counseling Center. This summer, Rebeca has assumed the responsibility of caring for new Latino clients who are seeking services at the RCCC.

“We are excited to welcome Rebeca to the RCCC team and look forward to seeing how God uses her talents in the lives of those she works with through counseling,” said RCCC Director, Michelle Shelley. “We are grateful that the Lord continues to bless RCCC with qualified and gifted therapists.”

R. Durand 2Raised in Miami, Florida, Rebeca holds a B.A. in Psychology and an M.S. in Marriage and Family Therapy from Lee University. She is half Chilean, half Puerto Rican, fluent in Spanish, and a Certified Pregnancy Coach (CPC). Her clinical background includes serving individual bilingual clients (in international and domestic settings), conducting couples therapy and group therapy, and pre-k/kindergarten counseling. The wife of an Air Force pilot, she is also comfortable working with military personnel and their families.

“I am so glad to be serving clients and providing community services through the RCCC that would otherwise be challenging for many individuals and families to access,” said Rebeca. “This new position allows me to reach a population that has traditionally been underserved due to lack of resources. Being at the RCCC gives me the ability to serve as well as fulfill a calling I believe I was meant to do. It has been a blessing to accept this position and I know great things will come of it!”

Currently, Rebeca is accepting new clients. Individuals, couples and families of all walks of life and insurance status are encouraged to seek reduced-fee counseling and mental health services through the RCCC. To schedule a session, please call (423) 648-2423 or visit the RCCC web page.

Richmont to Participate in GeoCASH Adventure through the Community Foundation of Greater Chattanooga

CHATTANOOGA, TN – (August 29, 2014)

On Saturday, September 13 from 9 a.m. – 1 p.m. Richmont will have a team of 4 racers and two volunteers participate in the Community Foundation of Greater Chattanooga’s (CFGC) “GeoCASH Adventure” race. Celebrating the Foundation’s 50th Anniversary, the Richmont team will engage the geocaching scavenger hunt in which hidden objects are found by means of GPS coordinates. A total of 25 nonprofit organizations throughout the city have been selected to participate and the first place finisher will win $20,000 with second and third places earning $10,000 and $5,000.

Following the GeoCASH adventure, a party will be held at the First Tennessee Pavilion to celebrate each teams’ accomplishments and the nonprofit’s causes. The public is invited to cheer on the teams and learn more about Chattanooga’s nonprofit community. Additionally, the public will have the opportunity to nominate a nonprofit organization of their choice into the drawing for a $1,000 CFGC donation.

Richmont Now Offering Electronic Transcripts

ATLANTA, GA and CHATTANOOGA, TN – (August 15, 2014)

This summer, Richmont partnered with Scrip-Safe to begin offering alumni and current students electronic access to their academic transcripts. While students have access to their unofficial transcripts via the university’s internal portal, the vast majority of graduates pursue licensure after finishing coursework. This “transcripts on demand” program will provide 24/7 access to ordering and will therefore dramatically expedite the licensure application process.

“We are so glad to be able to offer this to our current students and our alumni,” said Richmont’s Registrar, Roxanne Shellabarger. “Processing time is so much faster and students have appreciated being able to request an electronic transcript and it arrive in an inbox 30 minutes after it’s processed. We have had great feedback about the service from students and hope to find other ways to serve our students and alumni better in the future.”

Thus far, the university has experienced a smooth transition to this program. Some of the other benefits associated with electronic access include:

  • The option to continue accessing paper copies of transcripts.
  • The ability to store signatures on file.
  • Not having to worry about forms getting lost in the mail or misplaced.
  • The status of a request may be reviewed at anytime by logging onto Transcripts on Demand.
  • The ability to record when transcripts were opened via secure links.
  • The ability to provide email notifications regarding the status of orders.

Currently, transcripts may be ordered and paid for via Richmont’s web site or the Scrip-Safe ordering link. Deliveries are completed via Scrip-Safe’s Global Electronic Transcript Delivery Network and the U.S. mail system.

For more information, visit Richmont’s official transcripts page.

Richmont Hires Four New Counseling Faculty Members

CHATTANOOGA, TN & ATLANTA, GA – (August 4, 2014)

It is with great pleasure that Richmont welcomes four new faculty members to the School of Counseling.

*Lorrie Slater will be serving at Richmont as an Assistant Professor of Counseling as well as the Assistant Dean of Students on the Chattanooga Campus. She is a Licensed Professional Counselor, National Certified Counselor, and has served as an adjunct professor at Tennessee Temple University and Lee University. Recently, she also served as a teaching assistant and practicum supervisor at Regent University. Prior to joining the Richmont Henegar Counseling Center in Chattanooga last March, she provided individual, couple, and family counseling services at the Relationship Therapy Center. A Richmont alumna, she is completing her doctoral dissertation in the Counselor Education and Supervision program this year at Regent University.

*Vanessa Snyder will be serving at Richmont as an Assistant Professor of Counseling. She is both a licensed professional counselor and marriage and family therapist. A 2008 graduate of Richmont, she will be graduating in December from Regent University with her doctorate in Counselor Education and Supervision. Her areas of research interests include: sexual abuse and trauma; trauma effects on the God perception; assessment and play/art therapy in treatment of adults who experience trauma/complex trauma; and, complex trauma model protocol used for human trafficking. Her teaching experience includes serving as a Richmont adjunct, guest lecturer at the University of Tennessee and guest lecturer with the Institute for Sexual Wholeness.

*Sonja Sutherland will be serving at Richmont as an Assistant Professor of Counseling. She, too, is completing her doctorate in Counselor Education and Supervision at Regent University this fall. She is a Licensed Professional Counselor, National Certified Counselor, and a Certified Professional Counselor Supervisor. She has served as an adjunct professor at Kennesaw State University and as a teaching assistant and practicum supervisor at Regent University. Prior to Regent, she completed her graduate degree in counseling at Georgia State University. Her areas of research interests include: the integration of spirituality in the psychiatric residential treatment setting for adolescents; increasing academic achievement for underserved minority children and teens through family centered therapeutic intervention within and outside of the school setting; and best practice models of supervision in the online supervision environment.

*Long-time adjunct faculty member, Jason Hayes, will now serve Richmont’s Atlanta campus as a part-time Assistant Clinical Professor of Counseling. He has been a part of Richmont’s adjunct faculty since 2005 and previously served as a course instructor at Georgia State University and James Madison University. He has an M.A. in Counseling from Asbury Theological Seminary and Psy.D. from James Madison University. He completed his post doctoral education at Georgia State University. He is also an Associate Pastor at Marietta Alliance Church in Marietta, GA, where he has been serving since 2000.

*Stanley Hoover, a graduate of Richmont and a doctoral candidate in the Counselor Education and Supervision Ph.D. Program at Mercer University, will be serving as adjunct faculty at the Atlanta campus. Stan is currently serving as a therapist at Tapestry Associates Counseling Center in Marietta, GA. He has also served as an adjunct instructor at Mercer. His areas of clinical and research interests include: trauma and stress related disorders; religion, spirituality and mental health; psychodynamic psychotherapy and counseling; counselor education and supervision; and, higher education pedagogy.

“We’re delighted to bring on board our new faculty members,” said Dean of the Schools of Counseling & Psychology, Dr. Keny Felix. “Each individual not only believes in our mission but is well qualified to have a tremendous impact on our students through the integration of counselor education and the Christian faith. Together with our longstanding faculty members, we will continue in our tradition of academic and clinical excellence. Moreover, the addition of faculty from Counselor Education and Supervision doctoral programs will allow us to meet current demands related to growing trends in the field of counselor education.”

These new faculty members will join our dedicated team of full-time, clinical and adjunct instructors in Richmont’s School of Counseling. At present, the school serves approximately 236 students who are pursuing master’s degrees in Professional Counseling, Marriage and Family Therapy, Ministry, and Psychological Studies. Many students also elect to pursue a degree specialization in addictions, child and adolescent therapy, sex therapy, spirituality and counseling, trauma counseling and spiritual direction.

“We are thrilled to have so many capable and accomplished professors join Richmont’s School of Counseling this summer,” said Richmont President, Bob Rodgers. “Richmont’s curriculum promotes scholarly research and evidence-based methodologies that prepare students to serve clients from all backgrounds. We look forward to our faculty expanding in order to better serve our current and future students.”

Richmont to Co-Host Acceptance and Commitment Therapy Continuing Education Event

On Friday, August 22, from 12:00 p.m. – 2:30 p.m. the Tennessee Licensed Professional Counselors Association (TLPCA) will be hosting An Introduction to Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) on Richmont’s Chattanooga campus. This continuing education event will feature Richmont Professor, Dr. Tim Sisemore, and will help participants to: articulate the theory of psychological suffering behind ACT; list the six elements of the hexaflex model of ACT; implement one intervention for each of the six elements of the hexaflex. A NBCC approved continuing education provider, TLPCA will award 2 contact hours for participation in this event. The cost at the door for attending is $10 for professionals and $5 for students with lunch included.

To learn more, contact Chattanooga TLPCA representatives Lauren Stevens and Yohunnah Woods-Moton at: and Additionally, Richmont’s Chattanooga campus is located at: 1815 McCallie Avenue, Chattanooga, TN 37404.

Dr. Mike Stewart Named Dean of the School of Ministry

CHATTANOOGA, TN & ATLANTA, GA – (July 9, 2014)

It is with great pleasure that Dr. Michael (Mike) Stewart is officially announced as the new Dean of the School of Ministry. The Founding Dean of Richmont’s School of Ministry, Dr. Leland Eliason, graciously took a sabbatical from retirement to commit five years to establishing the School and the certificate programs. In his tenure, the School was incepted, fully accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC), began offering coursework online, hosted internationally renowned author and pastor, John Ortberg, Jr. for a two-day conference, and launched the Certificate in Spiritual Direction program.

“At the end of the final integrative seminar for the School of Ministry’s first graduating class, I had an overwhelming sense of gratitude,” said Eliason. “Every one of the graduates spoke of how the degree program had been used of God to transform their lives. They referred to the outstanding quality of the teachers, the power of community, and to the threefold emphasis of knowing, being, and doing. The curriculum we have worked so hard to create – works! It has been an extraordinary privilege to be part of creating and implementing this degree program.”

“We could not be more grateful to Leland for all he has given to lay a foundation for the School of Ministry,” said Richmont’s President, Bob Rodgers. “We are thrilled that he will continue training future ministers and that someone as capable and qualified as Dr. Stewart will take up the reigns of leadership. This is an incredibly exciting time in the life of the university and we look forward to seeing many more students receive training to serve God and others.”

Dr. Stewart will begin leading the School of Ministry in a full time capacity on August 1, 2014 from the university’s Atlanta, Georgia campus. This will allow Eliason to transition to a teaching and advising capacity within the School.

Previously the President of Emmanuel College, Stewart led an unprecedented nine-year season of growth which included more than $20 million raised in funds. He also oversaw the building of new student housing, the addition of nine new athletic programs, an athletic center, seven new academic programs, as well as full membership into the Council of Christian Colleges and Universities. Interestingly, Stewart was not only the President of Emmanuel, but he completed his Bachelor’s degree there prior to completing his Master’s degree at Liberty University and Doctor of Ministry degree at Assemblies of God Theological Seminary.

“Dr. Mike Stewart’s presidency of Emmanuel College has been characterized by courage, authenticity and breakthroughs,” said Eliason. “Those are the qualities that are needed for leading the School of Ministry to its next levels of growth. He lives by the values imbedded in the School of Ministry – the integration of faith and learning, integrity, and innovation. I am very excited about his capacities to enable the School of Ministry to fulfill its purposes to advance God’s kingdom, to enrich the body of Christ, and to equip Christians to offer transformational ministry.”

“I am very much looking forward to joining the team at Richmont,” said Stewart. “The School of Ministry fills an incredibly important niche in serving today’s churches and Christian ministries. I am grateful for the opportunity to follow in Dr. Eliason’s footsteps as the School only grows in influence.”

The university looks forward to welcoming Stewart and his wife, Pam, to campus this summer.

Dr. Amanda Blackburn to Serve as Dean of Students

CHATTANOOGA, TN & ATLANTA, GA - (June 17, 2014)

On Friday, June 13, Dr. Amanda Blackburn accepted the position of Dean of Students at Richmont Graduate University. After joining the faculty in 2010, Amanda has served as the Assistant Dean of Students on Richmont’s Chattanooga campus since 2011. She will begin her new position on July 1, 2014. A licensed clinical psychologist, Blackburn also serves as an Assistant Professor of Counseling at Richmont. While she and her family will soon transition to Atlanta, she will continue to teach classes and connect with students on the Chattanooga campus at least once a week.

“I am humbled and excited about the opportunity to serve Richmont students in this new capacity,” said Blackburn. “My time as Assistant Dean of Students in Chattanooga, walking alongside students during their time at Richmont and beyond, has been such an enriching and life-changing experience for me. I am honored to be asked to continue in this role in a new capacity.”

By July 1, Blackburn will assume her new role as Dr. DeAnne Terrell, Richmont’s immediate past Dean of Students, begins her new role as a private clinician and faculty member at John Brown University.

“I am grateful to DeAnne Terrell in her demonstration of humble service in students to Richmont during her time here,” said Blackburn. “She has been a selfless professional and personal mentor.”

“Amanda is the perfect person to be named the Dean of Students,” said Terrell who was instrumental in bringing Blackburn to the Richmont community. “She is wise, kind, supportive and encouraging. She has served the students in Chattanooga with grace and love for all these years and I know that she will continue to offer her loving support to all RGU students with excellence.”

“Amanda is an incredibly gifted teacher and committed friend of students,” said Richmont’s president, Bob Rodgers. “She is a remarkably capable professor and gives the best of herself to helping students have a full and meaningful experience at Richmont.”