Celebrate the Bietz Legacy
By Ashley Fox, Annual Giving officer


Gordon Bietz has faithfully served as president of Southern Adventist University for 19 years and will retire next month. Join your Southern family on April 28 at 11 a.m. in Iles P.E. Center to honor his legacy and celebrate the many accomplishments achieved under his leadership. Exciting surprises will be announced! Those unable to attend may watch live at southern.edu/streaming

During the program a check will be presented to Bietz representing the total amount of gifts made to Southern by alumni and friends in his honor. The goal is for 400 people to make a contribution before April 27. Show your support online at southern.edu/bietzlegacy.

Southern students, staff, alumni, and friends are also invited to record a brief video describing the positive impact of Bietz’s presidency at Southern. Be sure to use the hashtag ‪#‎BietzLegacy and post by April 27 so we can share it at the special event on April 28!

For more information about the Bietz Legacy Event visit Facebook and Southern’s website.


Alumni Highlights Title

Building Bridges through Alumni Engagement
By Evonne Crook, director of Alumni Relations 


The Alumni Association of Southern Adventist University has undergone a significant, positive re-structuring process during the past few years. To ensure the association best represents the wide diversity of constituency interests, a task force was established to discuss possibilities for increasing meaningful alumni engagement. This group of alumni representatives met three times over the course of several months. After developing a new mission statement to guide the process and give focus to future alumni programs and activities, a recommendation to move forward with re-structuring the organization was presented by task force co-chairs to the university’s Board of Trustees. It was approved.

Bert Coolidge, ’65, served as president of the association from 2013-2015. He came into the office with a passionate vision for expanding the organization to include 24 volunteer leaders who would represent 16 geographic areas of North America and the eight academic disciplines of the university. The new mission of the Alumni Association is to build relationships, involve alumni, and live the mission, vision, and values of Southern. The re-structuring plan provides opportunities for university staff to serve in supportive roles for chapter leaders and to direct university resources toward helping alumni become more involved through their specific areas of interest.  

When Jay Dedeker, ’88, assumed the position of association president in fall 2015, he committed his efforts to expanding this vision through further development of a new international structure, training of volunteer leaders, and strengthening programs and activities reflective of the new mission statement. With the objective of better connecting the university and alumni, Dedeker’s message to former students is “ask how you can help build a bridge for those behind you on the same path. How can you make a difference in the lives of students at Southern?”

The newly developed International Alumni Association Board meets quarterly and has 18 active members so far who are committed to increasing alumni engagement; six additional representatives will soon be added to complete the roster. Alumni can look forward to learning more soon about meaningful ways to become increasingly connected with each other and involved in the life of Southern.

Living the Mission
By Geovanny Ragsdale, associate vice president for Development 


Independent Healthcare Properties, LLC (IHP) develops, owns, and operates 26 senior healthcare communities in five southeastern states. The company was founded in 1996 by two Southern Adventist University alumni: Greg A. Vital, ’78 (president and CEO), and Franklin Farrow, ’93 (COO). They met as work colleagues elsewhere and shared a mutual vision to be entrepreneurs in the assisted living industry, an expanding field that serves people who are living longer and do not need a nursing home. IHP is headquartered in Ooltewah, Tennessee, and has more than 1,200 employees—many of them Southern alumni—in areas including nursing, long-term care management, information technology, marketing, and accounting.

IHP communities, operating under the names Morning Pointe and The Lantern, offer assisted living, personal care, and memory care services to a growing senior population. The memory care facilities provide specialized programs for individuals living with Alzheimer’s or other brain disorders. Morning Pointe’s mission goes beyond just providing care; it is actively involved in fighting the effects of these diseases. The Morning Pointe Foundation holds a golf tournament each year that raises funds for healthcare scholarships at several colleges, backs existing and new aging care initiatives, and supports resource libraries at certain Alzheimer’s communities.

Vital and Farrow continue to excel in their business and are prime examples of how Southern alumni live out the university’s mission of truth, wholeness, and service. In addition, they both give of their time, talent, and treasure at Southern as loyal members of the annual President’s Circle 100 giving group and participate in a number of on-campus opportunities. They also seek ways to share their passion for God’s nature through other organizations they are involved with in the community.

“During my years at Southern, I made many friends and received constructive input from faculty,” Vital said. “This knowledge has contributed to being successful in business and enables me to serve others.”

To learn more about their business visit morningpointe.com.  


 Campus Life Title 

Academic Summer Camps Offer Immersion Experiences for High School Students


This summer Southern will host seven academic camps that bring high school students to the university for opportunities to explore or sharpen their vocational focus before even starting college. Each three-day camp includes a spiritual component as well, modeling for students how Adventist education facilitates the marriage of career and calling.

The School of Journalism and Communication held Christian Media Camp for the past two years; students from across the Southeast and beyond came to learn about photography, blogging, new media, and more. Other academic departments witnessed its success and this year there will also be summer camps in chemistry, computing, English, filmmaking, modern languages, and math/physics.

“Our favorite part of the journalism camp every year is seeing high school students awaken to new ways they can use their gifts for God's glory,” said assistant professor Kendra Stanton Lee.

Gone is the traditional image of high school students spending their summer lounging by the pool. Today’s youth—and the parents who often help pay for college—remain open to the idea of spending this coveted time “off” in more constructive ways. But all fun is not lost! During the hours between academic activities and curfew, Southern staff will supervise a variety of recreation activities, both on and off campus.

All activities take place July 25-27, except for media camp (May 23-25). Registration is $100 for local students—or out-of-town students staying with friends and family in the area—and $150 for those requiring overnight accommodation in one of Southern’s apartment buildings reserved exclusively for camp participants and the staff who supervise them. All food, materials, and activity expenses are included in registration.

For students coming to camp from beyond the greater Chattanooga area, vans will provide complimentary transportation both to and from Southern at centralized pick-up locations in Atlanta, Knoxville, and Nashville. Specific details about each camp’s topic, lodging details, and recreation activities can be found on the camps’ website. For more information, call 423.236.2581.

Three Business Professors Set to Retire


The School of Business will undergo several faculty changes with longtime professors Richard Erickson (32 years), Verlyne Starr (23 years), and Jon Wentworth (20 years) retiring after this semester.

“We’re losing a lot of the history of our department,” said Mark Hyder, dean for the School of Business. “These are some incredibly qualified individuals.”

The retirees have different plans for how they will spend their time after this school year. Wentworth plans to be a full-time grandfather. Starr also plans to spend time with her grandchildren and enjoy more free time with her husband, as well as possibly volunteering in the community. As for Erickson, retirement won’t end his busyness. “It’s going to take me a year just to catch up on all the projects that I’ve postponed,” Erickson said. “But I’ll still see what’s happening at Southern; I won’t be totally disconnected from it.”


Community Connections Title

Laura Sage Brings Star Trek to Opera
By Tess Morgan, senior marketing major


Laura Sage (attended) had a vision to bring an opera unlike any other to Chattanooga—one that included Star Trek! She believes that incorporatinga fun science fiction elementwill attract a broader group of community participants who may be unaccustomed to attending operas or other similar art forms. Her vision becomes reality on June 5 as Abduction from the Seraglio (an opera by Mozart first performed in 1782) opens at Scenic City Opera with a distinctly original Star Trek theme.

Sage is a graphic designer and website developer in Chattanooga. She has been involved in music since childhood and both of her parents are professional musicians. Her career in music began as a violinist, which ultimately led to a full scholarship at Southern. Shortly thereafter, she became a performing member of the Chattanooga Symphony Orchestra. It was there that she developed a love for opera.

As soon as the Chattanooga Symphony Orchestra stopped performing opera, Sage was determined to bring it back. This determination helped her found Chattanooga’s Scenic City Opera.


Recent Events Title

Gordon and Cynthia Bietz Honored as Alumni of the Year


Gordon, ’66, and Cynthia Bietz, ’67, were named Alumni of the Year at La Sierra University in Riverside, California, on April 15 during La Sierra’s alumni weekend. 


Upcoming Events

Bietz Legacy Event


Join us at this historic event as we celebrate the 19-year legacy of Gordon Bietz on April 28 at 11 a.m. in Iles P.E. Center. Exciting surprises will be announced! Those unable to attend may watch live at southern.edu/streaming

School of Nursing 60th Anniversary Reunion


Alumni are invited to celebrate this special milestone for the nursing program at Southern. A reception will be hosted at the Embassy Suites Hotel at 7 p.m. on October 29 during Homecoming Weekend 2016. The evening includes alumni awards presentations and a special program celebrating the department’s accomplishments through the years. 

Homecoming Weekend 2016


October 27-30 – Honor Classes: 1936, ’46, ’56, ’66, ’71, ’76, ’86, ’91, ’96, and ’06.

Early highlights include the 60th anniversary celebration of the nursing program at Southern, as well as a reunion for former Student Services staff, residence hall deans, and residence assistants.

Click here to register. 


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