July 18, 2013 (Jackson) - Cynthia Newland, Associate Professor of Dance and Chair of the Dance Department, has been selected for the 2013 School of Excellence Award from the Mississippi Alliance for Arts Education (MAAE). She was honored at the Mississippi Alliance for Arts Education Awards Ceremony on Wednesday, July 17, during the Mississippi Arts Commission’s Whole Schools Institute at the MSU Riley Center in Meridian.

“The annual MAAE Arts Education Awards are a celebration of excellence to honor fellow Mississippians who are passionate about providing our students with arts education,” says Penny Wallin, executive director of the MAAE. “It is a proven fact that integrating arts into curriculum in one form or another is not only essential to a child’s education, but necessary for their success.”

As a dance teacher, choreographer, and performer, Newland actively works with organizations such as Campus Crusade for Christ, Children of the World, and Operation Mobilization International. Her work for inclusive dance has produced numerous choreographed works for people with and without disabilities.

Diane DeFries, executive director of the American College Dance Festival Association, said, “Ms. Newland’s presence is calm and quiet, but her ability to envision and then create a safe environment for a charged artistic and intellectual exchange for hundreds of students and faculty, belies a woman of strength, conviction, and know how!”

Established in 1974, the mission of the MAAE is to advocate for high quality, comprehensive and sequential arts education for all Mississippi students.


Belhaven University stands among select Christian colleges and universities and has been repeatedly named one of “America’s 100 Best College Buys." The University offers 30 academic majors across a full spectrum of disciplines as well as a variety of graduate programs. In addition, Belhaven has achieved the distinction of being among only 30 universities nationally accredited in each of the major arts – music, theatre, visual art and dance. All programs are taught from a Christian worldview perspective and are guided by the mission to prepare students academically and spiritually to serve Christ Jesus in their careers, in human relationships, and in the world of ideas.

Belhaven University serves over 3,700 students offering undergraduate and graduate degrees on its residential campus, an online degree program, and graduate and adult degree programs in Jackson, Memphis, Orlando, Houston, Chattanooga, and Atlanta.