Inauguration and Gala Celebrate New Beginnings
David C. Smith, PhD, took office as Southern Adventist University’s 26th president on June 1, 2016. The public is invited to witness his inauguration on October 13 by viewing the 11 a.m. ceremony live online at southern.edu/streaming.
For those seeking a more intimate welcome event, there is an Inaugural Gala on October 12 at 5:30 p.m. in Wright Hall. Guests will enjoy dinner, musical entertainment, student testimonials, and a silent auction. Proceeds from the gala provide new scholarships and endowed scholarship funds for students through the Campaign for Excellence in Faith and Learning. Tickets are $75, a portion of which is tax deductible.
Smith’s long-term goals are to increase enrollment, make a Southern Adventist University education more affordable, and reduce student debt. Additional priorities include a continued emphasis on giving students more opportunities to gain leadership experience on campus, creating a more authentic spiritual life for students and employees, and increasing Southern’s presence in the local community.
“I look forward to partnering with God and all who are associated with Southern to see how He will make a special university even more special,” Smith said.
While the gala and inauguration highlight a special week on campus, there are a number
of related events—archaeology, art, music, and more—that are open to the public as
well. To view a complete list of activities, or register for the gala, please visit
Homecoming Weekend and School of Nursing Reunion
Homecoming Weekend 2016, “Celebrating 100 Years in Collegedale,” takes place October 27-30. Special programs include a reunion for former Student Services staff, residence hall deans, and resident assistants; as well as music by the Wedgwood Trio. Honors classes are 1936, ’46, ’56, ’66, ’71, ’76, ’86, ’91, ’96, and ’06. On the last day of homecoming, alumni are invited to Southern’s Centennial Fall Festival at Veteran’s Park in Collegedale where community groups and student clubs will come together for a free event (2-5 p.m.) highlighting the 100th anniversary of the university’s move to Collegedale from nearby Graysville, Tennessee. Learn more about homecoming and register by visiting southern.edu/community.
Nursing alumni are invited to celebrate the 60th anniversary of their program. A 7 p.m. reception will be hosted at the Embassy Suites
Hotel on October 29 during homecoming and includes alumni awards presentations. This
event is limited to 300 guests and an RSVP is required. Learn more and register by visiting southern.edu/nursing60.
Nearly 1,600 institutions are evaluated annually by U.S. News & World Report before results are compiled and released. The magazine’s collection of objective data is used by students and parents to make informed decisions about where to invest in an education. The guide divides colleges and universities into categories based on both geography and the curriculum they offer. Southern earned its honors in the “Regional Universities” category, which includes schools that offer a full range of undergraduate studies and some master's programs, but few doctoral degrees.
To view comparative lists, and to learn more about ranking methodology, visit the "Best Colleges" website.
Southern was recently recognized by SmartAsset, an online technology company which uses data to provide simplified analysis of complex financial choices, as being one of the top ten values in higher education for Tennessee in 2016.
In compiling the list, SmartAsset looked at five factors to determine the best value
colleges and universities: tuition, student living costs, scholarship and grant offerings,
retention rate, and starting salary. For more methodology information and other details,
visit the SmartAsset website.
Thatcher Hall Undergoes Multiple Renovations
Built 1968, Thatcher Hall has served the women of Southern well over parts of the last six decades. And although several updates have been made throughout the years, Thatcher Chapel remained largely free of any significant changes–until now. Students returning to campus after summer break experienced a considerably different environment in their newly renovated space used for nightly worships and special events.
“I really love the new look and thought it was absolutely beautiful from the moment I walked in,” said Shannon Horton, junior outdoor leadership major. “It's a more modern and inviting place to gather together for worship.”
According to Marty Hamilton, associate vice president Financial Administration, structural changes include a higher stage ceiling, a stacked-stone stage wall, and new side windows. Cosmetic upgrades are on display in the form of new carpet, oak flooring on the stage and steps, refinished pews, fresh paint, and a new AV cabinet. But not all work done by the university is as obvious to the casual observer. Several additional modifications—such as rewired electrical systems, LED lighting, and foam insulation in ceiling—will likely go unnoticed by students, but have a big impact on energy usage and environmental stewardship.
Readers may view the finished chapel using this interactive 360-degree video of the new facility.
Several student rooms on the third floor of Thatcher Hall also received a facelift. New wall cabinets, flooring, paint, and vanities were among the modifications to 24 rooms. These efforts will be mirrored in Talge Hall next summer.
“The biggest thing I’ve noticed with the renovations has been functionality; the closets have more shelves and a greater ability to be customized for my preference,” said Courtney Calvert, junior history major. “Also the drawers added under the sink are very nice, as is having a more open desk area. I actually study there now since it has increased space and better lighting.”
Work on the residence hall rooms comprises the Living Enhancement portion of Southern’s
$50 million Campaign for Excellence in Faith and Learning. To contribute toward this
specific portion of the overall goal, or to learn about other aspects of Southern’s
largest ever campaign, please visit southern.edu/webelieve.
“She’s not breathing!”
I grabbed the ambu bag again and puffed air into tiny lungs of a limp three-week-old. Her twin sister didn’t look much better. She was lying beside her on the stretcher with labored respirations. Our emergency department team was desperately trying to save the lives of these twin baby girls. They had RSV, a virus that now rarely takes the lives of young infants.
18 years later, their mother introduced these daughters to me again. They had just walked across the stage at our local high school graduation.
“This is the doctor that saved your life.”
I was just doing my job. And most of the time, a doctor’s life is not this dramatic. But this type of experience does give meaning to a physician’s career. I also spent more than 20 years writing hundreds of prescriptions for strep throat and suturing countless lacerations. So why would I leave a successful medical career to teach at Southern? How did I understand and recognize this as my calling?
Calling comes through people and circumstances.
When I was a student here in the mid-’70s, KR Davis was director of counseling and careers. He strongly suggested I take the MCAT pre-med exam my junior year. I was not a pre-med student. My major was chemistry with an eye on teaching. But I took the MCAT and was delighted to be accepted into Loma Linda University School of Medicine.
I graduated from med school and completed my residency. For the next several decades I found fulfillment in treating patients with everything from hang nails to heart attacks. I was respected in town, made a good living for our family, and was serving as president of our county’s medical society.
One night in Spring 2006, I was enjoying a rare quiet night working in the emergency department and discovered an employment advertisement from Southern’s Biology Department. They needed an Anatomy and Physiology professor.
My wife and I drove two hours to Collegedale and interviewed that March. I got the job. In May, we listed our house on a Friday afternoon. We chose not to show our house on Sabbath and by Monday morning our house had sold for cash, twice what we paid for it. We loaded up our belongings and drove our minivan to Collegedale.
Southern is where my first calling began, and now I was back fulfilling a new calling. I was working 60 hours a week preparing lectures and teaching labs instead of 36 hours a week working in the emergency room (and for much less pay). But teaching on a college campus, I discovered, was a good fit for my gifts and talents. I had always enjoyed working with young people; I’d even served as youth director in our church. Once after leading a successful youth rally, the pastor told me that perhaps I had missed a calling in life. Looking back at the big picture, I hadn’t missed it. It was all according to God’s plan.
Reading anonymous course evaluations from students has the potential to be a terrifying and humbling experience. But comments such as “Dr. Norskov’s enthusiasm greatly enhanced my understanding” and “He really believes in us; I really like his passion about this class” affirm the decision to transition from medicine to education. There’s little doubt that this is where God wants me. I’m happy to be at Southern helping students prepare their heart and minds for future careers and a life of service. And if they’re willing to listen to God’s leading, both their careers and lives may look very different 20 years from now than they do on graduation day. All according to His plan.
“Called to Southern” is a new series for QuickNotes that highlights the path our faculty
and staff have taken to end up on campus. There is a definite pattern that show’s
God’s leading, and we look forward to sharing these stories with readers.
Students Surround Professor with Circle of Compassion
Biology Department Professor Ben Thornton, PhD, wrote his students this touching, cathartic email in which he thanks them for representing all that’s good about Christian community during crisis. We’ve known for years that Southern students come here for, and contribute to, experiences like these. But it’s difficult to describe such a moment unless you’ve experienced it yourself. Thornton’s extremely personal letter is immersive and comes close to putting you in a chair in his Hickman Hall classroom. He has given QuickNotes permission to publish this very personal message. We solicit your prayers both for Thornton’s family and for the students on our campus.
To my students,
Many years ago I was beginning my teaching career at Battle Creek Academy in Michigan. We were living on campus and my wife and I hosted a Friday evening vespers in our home for students. There was a faithful group of six to eight students that worshiped with us week after week. We would have a meal, to which the students contributed, before we worshiped. Tears were often shed as trust grew and we all learned to be open and real. We shared our struggles, fears, hopes and dreams. At the academy across the street I began a daily prayer time in the science department which helped all of us to stay focused and allowed us bring up things and present them to the only One that can really heal and make all things new.
One day, a student came to me and said that there was a group of students in the science department that really felt a need for prayer. I dropped what I was doing and walked down to the room. When I entered, the students were all sitting around in an imaginative circle with an open seat in the middle, the seat that the one seeking prayer usually sat in. I walked in and asked, “What’s up?” There was a little awkward silence and then one of them spoke up and asked me to sit in the empty chair in the circle.
They told me that I had been grumpy and that it looked like I needed prayer. My heart
was convicted and I was humbled. They gathered close and they all reach out and laid
their hands on me and began to pray prayers of petition, grace, and forgiveness. I
shed many tears that my students would care enough to reach across the divide to pull
be over and treat me like a human being. I was humbled that they loved me enough,
dared enough, trusted enough, to call out my sin. Not to condemn me or shame me, but
call out my sin and then pray for me. They affirmed my humanity and reached out and
This September, my brother was battling for his life in an ICU in Dallas after a bone marrow transplant gone bad. I had just returned from visiting him when he took a decided turn for the worse. His kidneys shut down and now he had refused intubation. It was just a matter of time. I was sharing with my students that I would probably be gone at the end of the week to bury my brother. I shared with them his struggle and what his family was going through. The room was silent and a few stared back with eyes of understanding. I had a prayer for my brother and his family, committing them all into His care.
Instruction continued and we talked about succession and the intermediate disturbance hypothesis, topics of which I am sure can act as a potently as a sleeping aid. As I was handing out the daily quiz at the end of class I spied a note that was being passed around in class. It didn’t appear to be suspicious in nature. As the students turned in their quizzes they uncharacteristically hung around and then one of them asked those who were interested to stay by so that they could have a season of prayer for me and my family.
As they maneuvered into an imaginative circle, my phone buzzed and I read the message before looking up and softly saying, “My brother is dead.” They all moved in unnaturally close and began reaching out and laying their hands on me. Droplets of grief began tracing my worn cheeks as one male college student after another, man after man, reached out through prayer to draw my heart close to theirs. Then a soft, yet strong-as-a-sparrow student reached up to God one more time as she closed their expression of care and love. One by one they hugged me, some long and hard, others were tender and brief. Some held on an awkwardly long time until the awkwardness melted into oneness and compassion. They embraced me. They touched me. They confirmed my humanity. They gave me what I needed most, human touch from people who didn’t have to care, but they chose to. They dared to reach out across the divide and pull me into their circle. They chose to reach across the imaginary divide and unite with my loss and pain.
I have the privilege of serving at Southern Adventist University where students and professors can be real and human. Where the divide that can separate students and professors is often broken down so we can experience each other’s pain, hurt, grief, loneliness, sorrow, longing … and take it to the only One who can make all things new.
Thank you to my students for allowing me to be simply broken and human, and still
respecting and loving me. Thank you for trusting enough the reach across the imaginary
Senior Presents Independent Research at Ivy League University
Marselinny Mawuntu couldn’t believe this was actually happening. And when reality finally did set in, the magnitude of presenting at Harvard Medical School was intimidating and overwhelming.
The senior biology and allied health major from Southern spent two days in September presenting research at an international conference surrounded by professionals, CEOs, research centers directors, Harvard faculty, and other students pursuing their master’s and doctorates. Even for the brightest and most ambitious of undergraduate students, this is not an everyday occurrence. Mawuntu’s opportunity and topic, “Health Conscientiousness of Gluten and Diet-Related Food Choices of Students at Southern Adventist University,” were the product of assignments connected with her Research in Biology class and the mentoring care of Keith Snyder, PhD, Biology Department chair.
“I was in complete awe when my application was approved by the committee, and still now after the conference,” Mawuntu said. “It felt like a dream because it definitely was an aspiration of mine that has now occurred. What an awesome, unforgettable experience!”
One thing that kept Mawuntu focused on the present moment at her conference was face-to-face conversations with thought leaders in the field. Both the Functional Food Center CEO and Phytotron Research Center director (see picture) said they enjoyed her poster and presentation. She also spoke with the CEO from the Academic Society of Functional Foods and Bioactive Compounds, who told her that he would help get her research published in The Journal of Functional Foods in Health and Disease.
Mawuntu cites several factors as having prepared her for this noteworthy academic success, including experience from smaller research projects, an internship with the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, and jobs on campus in the Research and Writing Center and the Anatomy and Physiology Lab. Much of this might never have happened if she enrolled elsewhere, but her academic success and time on campus was driven, in part, by another critical factor.
“I had gone to public school all my life, but came to Southern seeking a deeper relationship with God and to be immersed in a spiritual atmosphere,” Mawuntu said.
She got all that and more, including an exceptional education that has her well positioned for the future.
Mawuntu plans to attend medical school at Loma Linda University, studying both preventive medicine and public health. Gifts to the Biology Research Endowed Scholarship Fund will help students like her continue their education at Southern while pursuing undergraduate research projects that sharpen their focus and make clearer the path to both career and calling.
An overflow crowd of young Seventh-day Adventist entrepreneurs listened captivated as a serial entrepreneur who fled Iraq as a child and a Sabbath-keeping clothing boutique owner shared their secrets for success at a first-ever conference of young Adventist entrepreneurs.
On August 3, about 120 people attended the opening day of the two-day Fruition Lab conference on the sidelines of the annual ASI convention in Phoenix, Arizona. The event, organized by young Adventist entrepreneurs, had limited attendance to 100 people but opened the door to additional participants amid strong demand.
“Entrepreneurship is not only about money. It is to create value and make change in the world,” Fruition Lab co-founder Jeff Tatarchuk, ’09, said in his opening remarks. “This is the goal of Fruition Lab.”
That was the point driven home by the young presenters, each of whom was given 15 minutes to speak. The attendees, seated in small groups of eight around tables in a domed meeting hall at the Camelback Seventh-day Adventist Church, rapidly scrawled notes on mobile devices and conference-provided notebooks as they listened to the short, powerful talks.
To read more, please see the full article on AdventistReview.org. To watch a collection of videos from the event, please visit artv.AdventistReview.org and use the “Categories” menu to select “Business,” then “Fruition Lab.”
Those participating in the September 12 opening of the new exhibit of the Lynn H. Wood Archaeological Museum at Southern Adventist University quickly knew they were in for a treat, when Professor Benjamin Foster, curator of the Yale Babylonian Collection at Yale University, and a special guest on the opening night of the new exhibit said in his remarks: “This is the finest exhibition on ancient seals in terms of presentation, approachability, and scholarly input that I have ever seen.”
When the crowd of special guests and dignitaries visited the state-of-the-art exhibit later, they could see for themselves that the museum team had succeeded in presenting a key communication tool of ancient societies for a twenty-first century audience in a way that was understandable. “A World in Miniature: Creation, Cosmos, Ecology on Seals from Biblical Times” attempts to bridge a huge gap in space and time, using digital technology, careful design, and focusing upon three key questions of ancient and modern societies. Where do we come from? How does this world work? and How can we live responsibly in an environment that often suffers from human degradation? sound like questions a millennial could ask—and yet, they were also questions that moved people living in the ancient Near East in biblical times.
Remarkably, the miniature art contained on ancient seals, often as small as a fingernail, offers a richness of topics and themes that speak of their world and worldview. These intricately made seals “bring together on a very small space concepts of creation, cosmology, and ecology,” said Professor Martin Klingbeil, associate director of the Institute of Archaeology at Southern and the leading researcher for the exhibit.
To read more, please see the full article on AdventistReview.org.
For museum hours and additional information, please visit the Institute of Archaeology's website.
Student Runner’s Sabbath Convictions Open the Door for Conversations
Senior pre-physical therapy major Seth Ruhling loves to run, and ‘loves’ is an understatement for this talented and well-recognized member of the local running community. But as an Adventist pursuing athletics, sacrifices have been made. Specifically, Ruhling chooses to honor the Sabbath by not racing on Saturday, limiting the number of opportunities to compete at the highest level.
“As a believer, you hold on to the mentality that the greater reward is yet to come,” Ruhling said.
Ruhling began running in seventh grade, but it wasn’t until his junior year of high school that it became more of a passion. He found himself reveling in the physical challenge of pushing his body to be stronger and credits having a good coach as the primary reason he began to realize his potential.
“We were given these divinely-created bodies to be used and tested,” Ruhling said. “I want to see what mine can do!”
Before transferring to Southern, Ruhling began college on an athletic scholarship at Lee University. But soon he experienced a collision of faith and passion. At first, the decision not to race on Saturday was an easy one that involved just him and his conscience. As he began competing in more events and at higher levels, however, things became complicated.
“Not helping my team out during the cross-country season was difficult,” Ruhling said. “We worked so hard and it felt like I was letting them down. A lot of people don’t realize how much of a team sport cross-country is.”
Although there were days where Ruhling questioned his decisions, he’s never regretted sticking to his core beliefs. His convictions have opened the door for conversations about Christianity and the Sabbath, helping make any temporary setbacks worthwhile at the end of the day.
“I want to go to sleep knowing that I didn’t waver in my beliefs and values.”
-by Julia Bonney, senior mass communications major
Tell Us What's Happening!
Southern would love to feature you in our Beyond the Columns alumni update section of the university magazine! Please email us any family or professional news you'd like to share with classmates!
Remembering Harold Johnson’s Life of Service
Harold S. Johnson, ’53 and ’58, passed away August 15 at his home in Avon Park, Florida. He leaves behind a special legacy of passionate and personal support for Southern.
Johnson was part of the U.S. Army Corps Armored Division and Field Forces from 1945-1951, which included a stint in the Philippines. He also served as a missionary for the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Sudan, Jordan, Lebanon, Iran, and Malawi. Before retiring, he was chaplain at Memorial Hospital in Manchester, Kentucky. Even after that, Johnson remained active in pastoral care and led out as chaplain for several civic and military organizations.
Those who knew Johnson remember him as an organized and personable leader who paid tremendous attention to details. Nowhere are these qualities more evident than in memories of those who loved and worked alongside him.
“As the volunteer leader of the alumni group that gathers in Avon Park, Harold was determined not to miss a single brunch meeting, including the time when he came straight from his hospital bed dressed in a patient gown and pulling his IV pole down the hallways to the dining hall where the event was being held,” said Alumni Director Evonne Crook, ’79. “When we chided him for getting out of bed, he said he just wanted to make sure that our needs were covered and that there was a good alumni turnout!”
Johnson was the first unofficial alumni chapter leader for that group that has faithfully gathered in Avon Park for nearly 20 years. He often called each of the local alumni to extend his personal invitation for them to attend meetings. Even today, Southern looks to his leadership as the model for what amazing results volunteers are able to accomplish in building relationships on behalf of the university.
But Johnson was loved for more than what he did to help Southern as an institution. When in town to visit relatives, Johnson would always come by the Alumni Relations and Advancement office to share a “Harold Hug” and a smile. Staff looked forward to these visits and the brightness it always brought to their days. Building community through seemingly effortless actions such as that came naturally to Johnson, so Homecoming Weekend was a favorite activity. He rarely missed a year.
Johnson’s lifelong love of and support for Southern continues even after his passing. He and his wife worked with the university’s Planned Giving office to make sure that their estate could be put to use furthering the needs of Southern and its students. To learn more about how your legacy of generosity can likewise change the life of a student at Southern, email Carolyn Liers or call 423.236.2818.
Johnson was preceded in death by his wife of nearly 40 years, Harriet (Dinsmore), attended. He is survived by his son, Stephen, ’85, and daughter-in-law, Lynda (Magee), ’90; his daughter, Karen Burns, ’86, and son-in-law, Patrick, ’94; and three grandchildren: Ceilidh Johnson, John Burns, and Marjorie Burns-Watts.
The family has requested that memorial gifts be directed to the Harold and Harriet
Johnson Endowed Education Scholarship Fund or the Harold and Harriet Johnson Education
Endowed Nursing Scholarship Fund. Visit southern.edu/give or call 423.236.2829 for more information.
Ice Cream Social
Alumni and friends of Southern attending the Southern Union Medical, Dental, and Health Professionals Convention (or those who live in the Stone Mountain, Georgia, area) are invited to join us for a free ice cream social on October 8. The 7:30 p.m. event immediately follows an I Cantori concert at 5:30 p.m. and vespers presentation by David Smith, PhD, president of Southern. If you've already submitted an RSVP, tickets are available for pick up on site at Southern’s exhibit table. For more information, email Alumni Relations or call 423.236.2830.
WSMC Goes to Chicago, London
Explore Chicago (October 25-28, 2016) or enjoy a week in London (May 18-25, 2017) with WSMC. Float down the river with the Chicago Architecture Foundation, discover the Art Institute of Chicago, or see the city skyline from SkyDeck Chicago. Visit the quintessential sights of London with a local guide, including Buckingham Palace, the Tower of London, Big Ben, the Houses of Parliament, and Westminster Abbey. Visit wsmc.org for more information.
Europe Trip 2017
Martin Luther and the Reformation: Celebrating 500 Years
University alumni and employees are invited to join the “Martin Luther and the Reformation-Celebrating 500 Years” tour scheduled for June 13-25, 2017, hosted by the Alumni Association. Visit major sites of the Protestant Reformation in Germany and Switzerland during this historic, milestone anniversary. Immerse yourself in European culture and breathtaking scenery with experienced tour leader, Bill Wohlers. The cost is $3,950 per person and includes air fare, ground transportation by motor coach, lodging, breakfasts and dinners, as well as an estimated 20 sightseeing activities. Email Alumni Relations or call 423.236.2830 to learn more and to reserve your space before January 1.
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