Alumni Chapter Meeting at Carolina Campmeeting

Nearly 240 alumni and their family members gathered for food and fellowship on the edge of Lake Junaluska, North Carolina, during the Carolina Conference Camp Meeting. This is one of the largest chapter meetings every year, drawing Southern graduates and attendees from several states together to share old memories and make new ones.

In addition to spending time with old friends, alumni had the opportunity to reconnect with Southern and see what the university has planned for the next few years. They looked at architectural mockups of proposed changes to the campus and discovered how they will impact future generations. Children and adults alike enjoyed having their picture taken next to the life-size Gordon Bietz cutout, and many alumni took home prizes, such as Southern bears, mugs, and T-shirts.

In addition to several drawings, the individuals who have been attending the event for the longest each received a prize: Ross and Betty Hughes have attended every year since 2002, and Gerald Kenyon, Gwen Maples, and Tammy Vaughan celebrated their 10th anniversary of attending the North Carolina chapter meeting.

[view more photos on our Facebook page > CLICK HERE]


~by Cheryl Torres







Alumni Volunteers

During college, you studied, worked, paid for school, took part in events, and possibly helped to plan and put on events for various clubs and organizations. Now that you have graduated, you find out that—Southern wants more from you?

Don’t worry, it’s a good thing.

What Southern wants is for you to feel connected to your alma mater. Connection means different things for different people. Some just like knowing little pieces of information about how the school is improving and changing, so they “Like” our Facebook page and subscribe to QuickNotes. Others come to campus and mentor students, offer dorm worships, teach classes, or become a part of the Lights Volunteers program for various events. We see gifts of time and gifts of finances, and all mean a great deal to the university.

We strive to show our gratitude to these individuals in meaningful ways; but an almost visible jolt of joy passes through our halls when we receive comments on how staying connected to Southern has benefited and inspired our alums!

Here is the bottom line: even though you aren’t a student on campus anymore, we still want to be there for you. In turn, the Lord has blessed us with individuals who are there for us and we are truly grateful.
For instance, during the 2013 Graduation Sabbath School program, held at the Chattanooga Convention Center, several alumni were asked to speak on their unexpected paths after graduation and how God has led them through the years. Alexandrea J. Wilson '10, participated by sharing her testimony. Here is a message of what giving back meant to her:

"I want to say thank you for this past weekend. I truly enjoyed sharing my testimony and I loved having the opportunity to share how Southern has changed my life and given me the tools I need to get through life after I left the promenade! It really touched my heart to meet a few seniors and hear their stories. It also made me truly grateful for the sacrifices that my family members, faculty at the school, the deans, and others made in order for me to graduate from Southern. I'm not sure who got more out of the program, the audience or me."

Alumni chapter meetings are another example of how vital a role alumni volunteers play. “In some cases, [they] make the difference between success and failure,” said Rob Raney, senior Gift Officer. 

"Volunteers enable events to be prepared for in a timely manner, they contribute their ideas to the process, and, since our budget will only allow for limited staff to travel to each meeting , volunteers make it possible for us to have bigger and more special events than we would be able to provide on our own,” said Cheryl Torres, annual giving officer. “Plus, they make it more fun!”

If you feel compelled to become a part of something big, something meaningful, something that places its future in God’s hands and steps back to see the Spirit move, contact Evonne Crook in the alumni office today.

~by Jaclyn Pruehs


PHOTO CONTEST: Where do YOU read Southern Columns?

The 2013 Spring Edition of Southern Columns should reach your doorstep by the middle of June, and we want to know where you find yourself reading about your alma mater! On vacation in Hawaii? On your back deck with a glass of lemonade? Or on top of a mountain? Send us a picture and enter to win your choice of Southern gear, a selection of musical CD's, or a Southern hat autographed by Dr. Bietz. 


WHEN: Contest will begin Monday, June 15, 2013 and end Monday, July 15, 2013.

HOW TO ENTER: Have a picture taken of you (and/or your friends/family/etc.) holding your new 2013 Spring Edition of Southern Columns and submit it to

HOW TO VOTE: Go to Facebook and "LIKE" our Alumni Assocation page at Each submission will be placed in the "Photo Contest" album on our page and your "like" of the photo is your vote for the photo.

HOW TO WIN: Get the most amount of "likes" on your photo. 

*Limit one submission per person. All photo entries will become property of Southern Adventist University and can be used for Alumni Relations marketing.





Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner: How Southern Faculty Make a Difference

Homesickness is often a real challenge for students, especially freshmen, who attend boarding schools. Making the transition away from home and family is not easy, and this is no different for students at Southern.  However, faculty and staff are finding meaningful ways to share the gift of hospitality and to help them feel comfortable as members of the “Southern family.”

Robert Gadd, professor in the School of Business and Management, hosts graduate students in his home for their final class period of each semester. They take the final exam in a comfortable, non-classroom setting, and Gadd then serves a meal while everyone socializes. This tradition began when he arrived at Southern thirteen years ago.

An extension of Gadd’s culinary hospitality reaches beyond the campus and into the greater Chattanooga community. Every Thursday, other than for summer vacation breaks, he prepares, delivers, and serves breakfast to between 30-50 individuals living at the Ronald McDonald House in order to be close to family members dealing with serious health conditions. It helps to ease the family’s burdens when they can share a home-cooked meal together that has been served with loving care.

The School of Nursing faculty believes in teaching holistic patient care. Barbara James, dean of the School of Nursing, states that modeling this type of care to their students sends the powerful message that they believe and practice what they teach. One avenue by which they demonstrate this care is in preparing meals for students. The professors and staff regularly provide lunches for student-faculty forums, involving seven large student groups per semester. Another long-standing tradition for the school is preparing and serving a homemade Thanksgiving dinner for their majors. Nearly 300 students are served and heartily express their appreciation to the staff.

Tom Verrill, vice president for Financial Administration, and his wife, Carole, have regularly hosted 8-15 students in their home for Sabbath lunch and fellowship during the past five years. Often they don’t know for sure how many to expect until that day. They typically prepare a few casseroles, salads, and some extra side dishes of vegetables, pasta, or rice, and pray that the Lord will multiply the “loaves and fishes” so that everyone has something to eat. With His continued blessing, there has always been enough to go around. The time spent with students has been rewarded with lasting friendships and mentoring opportunities. They recently celebrated the wedding of two students who were regular guests in their home and who have requested they become “couple mentors” for them as this new relationship grows.

“It has been a blessing and privilege to be involved with the students in this way," Verill said. "We have met and built relationships with many awesome students who have blessed our lives.” 

Encouraged by the Board of Trustees and Gordon Bietz, university president, many employees take time to eat with students in the Dining Hall and other campus eateries. They value these opportunities to connect with students on a more personal level outside of the classroom or workplace.

As enrollment and facilities continue to expand in the years ahead, and with the increased use of electronic communications, it will be even more important to find meaningful ways to stay personally involved with students and each other. Southern’s mission, strategic plans, and employees strive to ensure that strong connection and community remain integral to campus life.

~by Evonne Crook, Director of Alumni Relations 






Southern University Adds Fascinating New Programs


• Vegetarian Culinary Arts

Southern is currently enrolling students for its new Vegetarian Culinary Arts program with courses beginning in Fall 2013. The program will start as a one-year certificate track, but the university plans to include associate’s and bachelor’s degree options by 2014.

Southern is one of the few universities in the country providing this kind of training. This is a natural fit since the Seventh-day Adventist Church’s health message, which strongly recommends a meat-free diet, is on display each day as the university uses exclusively vegetarian ingredients in providing meals for its 3,300 students.

The bulk of the new curriculum will consist of professional cooking instruction. Some of the other courses being taught include Food Safety and Sanitation; Introduction to Food Purchasing, Preparation, and Presentation; International Ethnic Cuisines; and Introduction to Marketing for Culinary Professionals.

A new, full-time faculty member has been hired as the director and lead professor. There will also be several adjunct professors teaching classes, as well as guest speakers for class demonstrations.


• Global Community Development

Beginning August 2013, Southern will start a new graduate Global Community Development program. This program will prepare graduate students for Christian witness while meeting the needs of the world’s poorest people. This unique 33 credit graduate program will offer students opportunity to study online and do one semester of field missions' study in a rural African community.

This interdisciplinary program will let students with any undergraduate degree put their past training and skills to work in service for the Lord while earning their master’s degree. No classes will be taught on campus, but online learning and one semester of field training will be necessary in order to complete the program. This adult-learner friendly program will teach students about faith and development, proposal writing, mission entrepreneurship, evaluating service outcomes and impacts, working with communities, training techniques, and many other practical skills useful for front-line mission projects. The hands-on and practical degree will be taught by faculty that have not only a scholarly track record, but also significant practical experience to share with students. Students can enroll to begin their online studies any semester. Students' families can accompany them during the summer semester fieldwork.

For more information please email Sharon Pittman, program director.  


• Global Policy and Service Studies

Southern has recently instituted a new political studies degree, Global Policy and Service Studies (GPS). The degree integrates political studies, global development, and world missions to prepare students for a life of global service in the United States or abroad.

In its first year over 25 students have elected to enroll in the new major. Students are participating in classes, such as Human Rights and Service, Sustainability Studies, World Missions, Global Politics, Policies in Global Health, and Political Economy.

A highlight of the new program is that students will study food politics and learn how to embark upon sustainable agriculture locally and around the world. Ultimately, the program trains students how to meet temporal needs to share an eternal need, a relationship with Jesus Christ.

For more information, contact Mindi Rahn, GPS Coordinator. 

• Lifestyle Therapeutics Program

The School of Nursing's Lifestyle Therapeutics program, offered as part of the Doctor of Nursing Practice degree, is the first of its kind, both nationally and internationally. It is designed to provide post-graduate nurses with a unique blend of highly practical research skills and training in the emerging field of lifestyle medicine.

For the latter, the curriculum emphasizes evidence-based holistic assessment, effective motivational interventions, and best-practice treatment approaches for the kind of lifestyle-related conditions that are typically encountered in clinical practice.

For more information, contact Holly Gadd, graduate program coordinator.



Another school year has closed, yet plans for the next school year are already in motion and the campus community is, in fact, quite busy:

• We’re remodeling the Upper Stateside Apartments so we can house additional students.
• Summerour Hall’s renovation is in progress. The School of Education and Psychology is scheduled to
  move back during the spring.
• A patio and gazebo area is being completed in front of the student center.
• We’re working with the architects on refining plans for the capital campaign buildings, including a new
  student center, residence hall, and School of Visual Art and Design.
• The School of Religion led a tour of the biblical Seven Churches in Turkey, Istanbul, and Greece.
  Approximately 35 employees traveled together. It was a wonderful opportunity for personal growth.
• Transitions are in progress as two deans retired this year: Don Van Ornam, School of Business and
  Management; and Phil Garver, School of Physical Education, Health and Wellness.

We are grateful for God’s favor as we seek His guidance in planning for the future.


~by Gordon Bietz


QuickNotes is managed by Jaclyn Pruehs, Alumni Relations Assistant