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Celebrating the Bietz Legacy
By Ashley Fox, Annual Giving officer


For 19 years, Gordon Bietz has faithfully served as president of Southern Adventist University. With his retirement year, we want to honor Gordon's legacy and celebrate the many accomplishments Southern has achieved under his leadership. Show your support online any time before April 27 at

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! For those unable to attend, watch live at

For more information, be sure to check out the event on Facebook.


Alumni Highlights Title

E.A. Anderson Lecture Series - Alumni Speakers
By John Shoemaker, Corporate and Foundation Relations officer


The road to success for Sarah (Matthews) McDugal, ’03, has been anything but straight.

With three years of college already under her belt from a different university, McDugal arrived at Southern and regularly took 16 or more credits while working multiple jobs to pay her way. Two weeks after graduating with an English degree and minor in religious studies, McDugal found herself married and working at Andrews University’s radio station as the marketing director and early morning announcer.

But after going to work before the sun came up and leaving work as the sun went down, she realized that anything had to be better than this vitamin D-deficient schedule. So she went back to school.

During the final semester of her studies with the International Development master’s program at Andrews, McDugal visited a friend in London and volunteered to help proofread the doctoral thesis of her friend’s dad. He later became director of a major international non-profit, and he less than a year later he hired her. 

“Always do kind things for people and expect nothing in return,” McDugal said. “It’s important to know that none of your decisions are neutral. The small decisions you make along the way result in shaping how you’ll process the big decisions you face later on.”

At year six in her dream role as associate director of the nonprofit, McDugal learned that she was pregnant and might need to reconsider continuing her career full time. But God had even better plans for McDugal, in opening up an opportunity for her to work at home.   

Now, 13 years after graduating from Southern, McDugal is an author, speaker, director, and brand strategist. Her work has taken her all over the globe and connected her with top leaders from companies such as Chipotle, the popular burrito chain, and Project Gravitas, a New York City fashion house. She currently consults with executive women who might be looking toward retirement and want to leave a legacy.

As a guest lecturer for the E.A. Anderson Lecture Series, hosted by Southern’s School of Business, McDugal recently shared her story with a room full of students, alumni, and community members.

“My success journey has looked like a bowl of spaghetti, with many twists and turns, and ups and downs along the way,” McDugal said. “It has been anything but straight.”

She believes that her Southern experience significantly shaped where she is today.  

“Southern gave me an environment that demanded excellence, but also gave me the freedom to thrive and room to explore,” McDugal said. “The network that you get here is an asset that will serve you the rest of your life.”

During her presentation, McDugal shared five key pieces of advice for students as they navigate through their experience at Southern and beyond.

  1. Make the best of every opportunity, even when it seems unrelated to your long-term goals.
  2. View feedback as a gift rather than a threat.
  3. Accept every opportunity to try something new that you don’t think you can do.
  4. Build solid, quality relationships with those above and below you.
  5. Stay loyal and aligned to your core values.

Looking for additional inspiration and professional growth? Check out the remaining E.A. Anderson Lecture Series presentations for 2016 and archived lectures from past years. Admission is free and open to the public. 

April 4: "Luck Favors the Bold" by Ted Alling, partner and co-founder of Lamp Post Group

April 11: "Connecting Preference and Performance" by Stephanie Sheehan, assistant professor for Southern's School of Business

McDugal has just published a book leadership and integrity rooted in these key pieces of advice, ONE FACE: Shed the Mask, Own Your Values, and Lead Wisely. 


 Campus Life Title

New Student Life Center Moving to Promenade
By Kristen Vonnoh, sophomore journalism major


Trustees decided during a February board meeting to build the new student life center on the promenade between Hickman Science Center and McKee Library instead of next to Hulsey Wellness Center, as originally planned. This revision allows increased student accessibility.

The initial student life center budget was $28 million; modified plans project the cost at $13 million. The reduction is due, in part, to the fact that new plans do not include moving the cafeteria and dining hall from their current location in Wright Hall. Instead, renovations will be made to those existing facilities. At the most recent Employee Town Hall meeting, President Gordon Bietz said the new student life center will free up space for academic expansion in existing buildings as well as provide for future use as an academic building.

The new student life center building plans are not complete yet, but it is anticipated to be approximately 45,000 square feet and include an eating option like that of the former Campus Kitchen.

The student life center is part of Southern’s Campaign for Excellence in Faith and Learning, a project launched in 2012. Carolyn Hamilton, vice president for Advancement, said the effort has received “truly amazing and visionary gifts and pledges—more than ever raised in a past campaign.” There are other components of this campaign, including additional facility changes, but trustees decided to focus on the student life center first.

“I cannot say at this time when ground breaking will be,” Hamilton said, “but we will plan a celebration around this exciting event!”

Winter Semester Research Day


McKee Library invites alumni and friends of Southern to hear presentations by faculty and students during Campus Research Day on April 12. The keynote speaker is Andrews University Professor Duane McBride, author of Legal and Illicit Drug Use: Determining Drug Abuse Treatment Needs and Drug Use and the Courts. McBride has received numerous awards for his teaching, research, and academic contributions. More than 370 presentations are scheduled on a variety of topics in multiple locations around campus. For times and other specifics, please visit McKee Library’s website


Community Connections Title

 uQuest - New Leadership and Mission Trips
By Melissa Guth, Alumni Relations assistant 


Melissa (Tortal) Moore, '09, began her new role as uQuest Missions coordinator in October, but is no stranger to Southern. She graduated from here in 2009 and previously worked for the university as its service-learning program coordinator.

One significant change Moore hopes to implement with uQuest is increasing students’ responsibility in the structuring of these trips, relying heavily on their input for budget planning, transportation arrangements, activity organization, and more. To accomplish this, uQuest is seeking students who are former student missionaries to function as leaders on the trips. Moore will transition to more of a mentoring role, empowering and supporting the students. The end goal is for students to leave Southern confident in their ability to replicate all aspects of mission trip planning at whatever church, school, or organization they are assisting.

Samya Sawalha, senior nursing major, is a prime example of the type of student Moore hopes to hire. She was a full-time student missionary last year in Peru and played a central role in planning the spring break trip to Peru this year. More than 150 students and employees participated last month in spring break mission trips to Brazil, Egypt, Haiti, Navajo Nation, Peru, and Puerto Rico.

To financially support uQuest and other mission trips, click here.


Recent Events Title

100-year Anniversary Celebrated 
By Rosana Hughes, senior journalism major


2016 marks the 100th anniversary of Southern’s move from Graysville, Tennessee, to Collegedale. As part of its celebration, the university held a special presentation on March 17 in Iles P.E. Center.

President Gordon Bietz used the occasion to give his final convocation speech, augmented by a slideshow showcasing the visual history of Southern and historically significant music. More celebratory events will be announced throughout the year. On a related note, 2017 marks another critical moment in Southern’s history: the 125th anniversary of its founding in 1892.

“So, we have back-to-back events,” said Ben McArthur, History and Political Studies professor. “There’s the 100th anniversary of the move—which is in some regards the key event because it was so important to have a new site—and then there’s the founding of the school, which is important, too.”

Bietz’s March 17 presentation, “We Believe in Miracles,” is available online.

Check out Southern's most current history book online.

Southern's Oldest Nursing Alumnus Turns 100
By Melissa Guth, Alumni Relations assistant 


Harry Bennett, ’37, turned 100 on March 2. President Gordon Bietz, along with additional Southern staff and approximately 50 local alumni, celebrated with him at a Fenton Forest-themed party hosted at the Avon Park Seventh-day Adventist Church. Bennett worked for many years as a nurse in Florida, where he currently resides. He was presented during the event with a framed photo of him in front of Florida Hospital Hall, Southern’s nursing building, taken during Homecoming Weekend 2014.


Upcoming Events

Bietz Legacy


Join us for this historic event as we honor the 19-year legacy of Gordon Bietz at Southern and share many exciting surprises. Elder Dan Jackson, president of the North American Division of Seventh-day Adventists will be a featured participant. The event will take place April 28 at 11 a.m. in Iles PE Center.

For those unable to attend in person, watch the celebration live at

This is a public event so invite your family and friends!

Gym-Masters Home Show


The Gym-Masters Home Show takes place in Iles P.E. Center on April 9 at 9 p.m. with a matinee performance April 10 at 2:30 p.m. Tickets are available at the Hulsey Wellness Center for $5.

The Gym-Masters acrobatic team is a tight-knit group of Southern students who tour and perform for assembly programs, college and professional halftime shows, parades, fairs, and other events. They are dedicated to promoting positive lifestyle choices. 

50-Year Class March and Reunion Lunch


Members of the Golden Anniversary Class of 1966 are invited to participate in the annual tradition of marching with the May 2016 graduates during Commencement on Sunday, May 8.  The service will be held in the Chattanooga Convention Center starting at 9:30 a.m.  A complimentary reunion luncheon will be hosted onsite for class members and their families immediately following the conclusion of the ceremony.  Invitations were mailed to class members for whom the Alumni Relations staff has address information on record.  RSVP’s will need to be received no later than April 4 by emailing or by calling 423.236.2830.

Homecoming Weekend 2016


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

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

Click here to learn more. Online registration options will be available soon. 



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