DR. FON R. BELCHER, B.S., M.A., Ed.S., Ed.D.
FOUNDER AND PRESIDENT
First Doctor's Degree in Education, East Tennessee State University
The man stood first in line on the stage at East Tennessee State University while before him stood his professors, arrayed in their academic regalia, as befitted the graduation ceremony. His golden tassel gleamed under the spotlight as he waited in anticipation for the historic moment to be made--for he was the one who would make it. As his name was called, Fon R. Belcher stepped forward to shake the hand of the college president, who in turn gave the newly-graduated Dr. Belcher a roll of parchment, a historic document. That document was the first Doctor's degree in education ever conferred by East Tennessee State University.
More than that, the elegant sheaf of paper Dr. Belcher held in his hand represented a symbol: this mark of educational excellence was a qualification to educate others about essential truths, about history, about justice, and about how to formulate public policy. Education was his link to the past, to knowledge of others such as Governor Jonathan Belcher (January 8, 1682-August 31, 1757), founder of Princeton University, who had known such a grand ideal and had founded an institution to preserve and carry out his vision of a Christian civilization. Education was the link to the future, to the day when Dr. Fon R. Belcher would establish the Belcher Foundation to pursue many of the same goals as Governor Belcher's original Princeton College: Firstly, to educate people about public policy, constitutional government, history, education, and research, and secondly, to establish and shape that history and public policy.
The goal of the Belcher Foundation and its founder, Dr. Fon R. Belcher, is to educate the public about historical, constitutional, educational, and policy issues by carrying out the programs and projects of the Foundation. The Foundation's flagship publication, the Belcher Bulletin, was established as a historical/biographical journal nearly twenty years ago and later expanded its coverage to include public policy issues and to show the relevance of history to present events. The Belcher Foundation always has been the original and only publisher of the Belcher Bulletin, which is not available through any source other than the Belcher Foundation.
The Workstyle Approach to Education and Research
Before founding the Belcher Foundation, Dr. Fon R. Belcher earned Bachelor of Science, Master of Arts, Ed.S., and Ed.D. degrees; was an administrator in both public schools and higher education, and was an educational consultant for many years.
Research has always been his special interest; accordingly, he founded the Belcher Foundation as a think tank research organization.
Dr. Belcher's Ed.D. dissertation pioneered the idea of the workstyle approach to research. In sum total, each individual has a "workstyle"--defined by the things he or she likes to do and the way he or she goes about doing them--and the combination of the workstyles of many individuals determines the composite picture of a particular educational program.
The way research and research training is organized, planned, programmed, and operated will necessitate an identifiable workstyle. It is, therefore, imperative that a researcher's preferable workstyle (which is unique to each individual) be determined before he or she undertakes advanced research preparation or field work of a research nature.
Workstyle is defined as being founded on an individual's beliefs, "by those operational factors in his thinking that determine both what type of things he is most likely to do and the way or ways he is most likely to go about doing them."
Few, if any, individuals possess the broad variety of interests or expertise in very many areas of interest or the workstyles they require. One element, then, that is foremost in the determination of any individual's research preparation needs is an analysis of the way he or she works and of what, if it is possible to know, makes him or her work best in that way.
Both an individual's goals and the nature of his or her operational beliefs should be considered in planning his or her research preparation program. Perhaps such considerations can be undertaken only by the "planner type", the generalist who must consider all types of questions, possible research techniques, the results of the uses of various techniques and the reasons, both personal and scientific, for using them. Other individuals generally need other types or perhaps a more limited type of preparation, suited to their most likely workstyle.
A good preparation program should contain provisions for flexible studying, and for organizing, planning, programming, and operating research-related activities. The program may allow each individual actually to work in a research framework in order to gain a variety of experiences and to learn the techniques and possibilities of research.
Educating About the Things that are Right
The Internet opens up ways for research results to be disseminated, benefiting scholars and the general public alike. Given Dr. Belcher's interest and expertise in research and research methodology, his idea of the Belcher Foundation was a natural outgrowth of his research interests.
Dr. Belcher sees the potential for education. Information empowers people to make informed judgments about policy issues. Thus, education is a major goal of the Belcher Foundation. One way in which Belcher Foundation seeks to do this is by allowing the citizenry the opportunity to read public policy analyses, relevant historical articles and documents; select court opinions pertaining to church and state issues, and other items of interest. Many of the historical documents pertain to the Christian worldview shared with many other Christians past, present, and future, including American Colonial Governor Jonathan Belcher (January 8, 1682-August 31, 1757), for whom the Belcher Foundation was named. The goal is to promote a well-informed populace by educating about the things that are right. Thus, Belcher Foundation envisions an educational mission.
In the fields of political science, law, and public policy, as well as in other academic areas, educational entities need to encompass and include a diversity of workstyles. Faculty and students need to be given a greater opportunity to express the conservative viewpoint, and public school systems, colleges, universities, and professional schools should aim to increase the diversity of their faculty by hiring conservative teachers and professors. Conservative teachers and students should be encouraged in their teaching, writing, and publishing, and their excellence and merit should be recognized to the same extent as the work of their liberal colleagues.
Belcher Foundation recognizes the need for the integration and alliance of the Christian worldview and scientific fields of study. For centuries of Western history, science and Christianity were allies: science was the study of the material world that the Creator made. The wonder and delight of researching ever-growing knowledge about the creation is a sufficient reason for research students to enter the scientific fields. Such enthusiasm for studying the created order may be encouraged if students are taught the Christian worldview together with the scientific method, rather than saturated with the philosophical perspective of secularism.
In the field of history, Belcher Foundation takes special interest in Early America--not only because it studies Governor Belcher's life and times, but also because of the public policy implications of Early American values--even for the current generation.
On www.belcherfoundation.org, people can find works by, and information about, the circle of friends surrounding Governor Belcher, and others, past and present, who share their Christian worldview. The work of Governor Belcher and his friends led not only to the Great Awakening and resulted in the founding of Princeton University, but eventually contributed to the American Revolution and the founding of the American Republic. The American values of ordered liberty, based on unalienable rights granted by the Creator, are still valuable to the world. These principles should be America's greatest export.
Accordingly, it has long been Belcher Foundation's goal to bring these Early American people once more into the limelight and let modern society know that such Christian faith was what formed the foundation of America. Their words and lives, as examples, should inspire Americans and the world in the 21st century.
Such was the perspective of Governor Jonathan Belcher--which is why naming the Belcher Foundation after him is doubly fitting.
Part of Belcher Foundation's mission is to accurately chronicle, as much as possible, the history of Governor Belcher's life and times in Early America and the founding principles that undergirded the American Republic. Fitting in with that focus is an emphasis on constitutional republican government, a just and ordered liberty, and the rule of law ultimately answerable to the Divine moral law (the sovereignty of God over human activities).
As part of its educational mission, Belcher Foundation analyzes ways in which American history and policy influenced other nations.
Belcher Foundation seeks to provide good cheer for the present age in the form of encouragement of the right values. (It was Governor Belcher himself who discovered that the surname Belcher means "good cheer".) America as a nation needs to remember those values, as well as our compatriots who came before us. In Early America, there was a Christian consensus. And that's what made this nation great.
However, it is not merely history that Belcher Foundation seeks to chronicle. Making public policy through history, in the sense of looking at what was achieved in the past to serve as a guide for the future, is possible and has been practiced by others. Without history, our nation is rudderless. How do people know what the United States of America stands for, if they don't know the moral principles upon which this nation was based? An uneducated populace is one that is easily led astray. Therefore, Belcher Foundation has a mission that is very current: Educating about the things that are right.
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