NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — Of all the books in Greg Jones' office, there probably isn't one that could guide him through the last 365 days.
"It’s been an amazing year. COVID obviously made things more complicated throughout the year but we navigated that well as a community," said Jones, the president of Belmont University.
A year ago this week, Jones was officially inaugurated into office, taking over for longtime retiring president Bob Fisher.
Now with a year under his belt, Jones is ready to share his vision for the next chapter of Belmont. "We have God-sized dreams. We want to be the leading Christ-centered university in the world by 2030," said Jones.
Much like the city of Nashville, Belmont University has grown at an incredible rate. But the new president said he wants to make sure the university doesn't just grow in quantity, but also in quality.
"We want to be known as Nashville and Middle Tennessee’s university," said Jones. "We want to be the kind of place where people say, 'I want more leaders like that.'"
Part of that vision includes launching a new medical school on campus.
"We have a big hole on Wedgewood where a 200,000 square foot building is under construction with parking underneath," Jones said.
When it opens, the school will partner with Nashville-based Hospital Corporation of America for hands-on training.
"We’re looking forward, we hope, to approval this fall to admit our first class to students in the fall of 2023," he said.
In many respects, Belmont gained national attention after hosting presidential debates in 2008 and 2020. Jones said he wants that tradition to continue, if possible. "We want to be a place that brings the community together, whether it’s locally, statewide or nationally, and we’re always interested in those opportunities," said Jones.
Jones may not have attended Belmont, but his family connections to the school are real page turners. He is able to glimpse his family's old apartment from his office window. "It’s literally right across the street, across Wedgewood, where they lived," he said.
There's also a 100-year-old report card on his office wall that was unearthed months after he already accepted the job.
"This is my grandmother’s transcript from when she was a student at Ward Belmont in 1922-23," said Jones.
Jones said he never knew his grandmother even attended Belmont until his uncle gave him a call last year.
"She only got As in practice and order and neatness. She wasn’t nearly as good of a student as she made herself out to be when she was my grandmother," he said with a laugh.
Jones said these are reminders that he feels lucky to be a part of the Belmont family. It's the kind of family he hopes to remain a part of until he closes the book on his career.
"This will be my last stop. I’ll be here until I retire or become senile," said Jones.