Felix Hired as Associate Vice President for Academic Administration
Dionne Felix, PhD, has joined Southern’s administrative team as the new associate vice president for Academic Administration. Felix will oversee institutional research, online learning, and much more as she works closely with Senior Vice President for Academic Administration, Robert Young, PhD.

Dionne FelixFelix has 17 years of experience working in education at Capella University, University of Alabama, Oakwood University, and most recently at Calhoun Community College. She has a Doctorate in Education, a Master of Arts in English, and a Bachelor of Arts in Communication. In addition to student achievement, Dionne has an expressed passion for faculty development and success. She has published and presented at numerous conferences on topics such as education and leadership.

“All my life, I have watched God order my decisions, my steps, and my reality; He has never disappointed me,” Felix said. “My journey to Southern was quite unexpected, but I covenanted with God that if this was the direction in which He was leading, I would go. I look forward to partnering with the Southern family as, together, we walk into God’s purpose.” -Staff Report

Homecoming Weekend to Feature Gym-Masters Reunion

Each year, between 40 and 50 students participate in Gym-Masters, Southern’s acrobatic performance ministry, graduating into a tight-knit community of alumni. Hundreds of them are expected back on campus October 25-28 for a special reunion during Homecoming Weekend.

Familiarity—given the right environment—breeds community, and Gym-Masters members have plenty of opportunity to get to know each other. In addition to sharing classes, residence hall rooms, and campus jobs, they practice eight hours a week and hit the road for 10-15 performances a year. This sacrifice of time for a greater, common good is one of the primary drivers that nurture camaraderie among members. But it’s not the only thing.

Gym-Masters Reunion“Gymnastics and acrobatics require a lot of faith and trust in each other; you are literally placing your life in someone else’s hands,” said Rick Schwarz, Gym-Masters coach.

After leaving Southern, former team members often remain connected with the program. In 2018, Gym-Masters alumni donated more than $10,000 for the group’s mission trip to the Dominican Republic and often help with housing and food during Gym-Masters tours all across the United States. This giving spirit can be traced back to Gym-Masters’ practices, where Schwarz encourages a “tithing of our time” through daily group worship and other non-acrobatic activities.

Specific Gym-Masters events planned during Homecoming Weekend include:

• October 26, 3-5:30 p.m. – General practice session for alumni and current Gym-Masters
• October 26, 6 p.m. – Casual supper and vespers for Gym-Masters
• October 27, 10 a.m.-12 p.m. – Informal worship service for Gym-Masters
• October 27, 2:30 p.m. – Reconnection time with Coach Ted Evans and alumni (1984-1994)
• October 27, 2:30 p.m. – Reconnection time with Coach Rick Schwarz and alumni (1995-2018)

Alumni can learn more online at southern.edu/alumni, facebook.com/SAUalumni, public Facebook group “SAU Gym-Masters,” or by emailing alumni@southern.edu. -Staff Report

campus life
Digital Transmitter Breathes New Life Into Southern’s Radio Stations
Southern’s Classical 90.5 WSMC recently installed a new digital transmitter, replacing the station’s outdated analog equipment. This upgrade resolves broadcast issues that local listeners have experienced over the past two months, returning the station to 100 percent power and paving the way to digital broadcast capabilities.

“We are grateful to the generous listeners who made this improvement possible,” said Scott Kornblum, general manager of Classical 90.5 WSMC. “We could not have taken this step without their support!”

WSMC Scott KornblumWhile the $125,000 transmitter is a blessing to classical music lovers in the Tennessee Valley and Northwest Georgia, it also goes a long way toward transitioning Classical 90.5’s sister station, Oasis 90.5 WSMC, from an online-only broadcast to one that could be heard in cars and homes equipped with digital radios in most of Classical 90.5’s generous coverage area.

Oasis 90.5 launched in 2014 and uses internet streaming to offer Seventh-day Adventist programming—including sermons, inspirational Christian music, and children’s stories—that point adults and children to Christ’s redeeming love.

The next steps in broadening Oasis’ reach are to purchase the final components for the new transmitter that will produce a digital stream for HD car and home radios, and then purchase or lease a translator to broadcast Oasis on the FM band. Gifts in support of that vision can be made online or by calling 423.236.2905. -Staff Report

House Gifted to Southern Generates Scholarship Funds
It is not unusual for jaws to drop when people from the West Coast, New England, and other areas with a high cost of living see how affordable home ownership is in the South. This is especially true around Chattanooga, a region containing many big-city perks but with reasonable real estate prices. For one Californian homeowner, a search through online real estate sites created an unusual gift idea.

In 2017, Vicki Holbert was ready to downsize her family home but stay within the state. During a broad exploration of the online real estate market, she noticed the difference in house prices between California and Tennessee. This discovery prompted her to place an interesting call to Southern.

Holbert reached out to the President’s Office with an exciting, but surprising proposal: she wanted to purchase a house in Collegedale for student or faculty use. She had no previous connection to Southern, but felt God calling her to give to the university. Her father was a professor, and she wanted to create an opportunity to celebrate his legacy by supporting a worthy educational endeavor.

Platner House ApisonThe President’s Office connected Holbert with Carolyn Hamilton, vice president for Advancement. She visited a specific home Holbert had located; however, the property was too far from Southern for potential student use. Holbert asked Hamilton to continue looking for a house that would better suit Southern’s need.

After extensive searching, members of Southern’s leadership team found a beautiful home located only six minutes from campus. After an evening full of prayer and joyful tears over the phone with Holbert, they put in an offer.

“It was through a set of miracles that we were able to purchase the home,” Hamilton said. “There is no other explanation beyond that it was the Lord’s leading!”

Soon after, Holbert flew to Tennessee—her first time on campus—and took a short ride to the property for a dedication ceremony attended by students, faculty, and cabinet members. The home has been named in honor of George Platner, Holbert’s father, who taught at La Sierra University and other public universities. It is currently being used as a rental for faculty housing, with a portion of the revenue going toward Southern’s new Dr. George Platner Education Scholarship.

For information on planned gifts, including real estate, email plannedgiving@southern.edu.

-by Lizzie Williams, senior public relations major

alumni highlights

Becoming a Fulbright Scholar Shaped Career Path for Barry Howe, ’09
As an upperclassman biology major at Southern, Barry Howe was still undecided about the all-important next step: attend medical school or pursue international development? The opportunity to study overseas as a prestigious Fulbright Scholar helped simplify that decision.

Barry HoweHowe’s Fulbright experience took him to Kyrgyzstan, where he worked at the Kyrgyz National Agrarian University collecting genetic samples and assisting with dendroecological research in the wild walnut-fruit forests of Jalalabad. And although Howe ultimately decided to pursue a career in internal medicine—he will begin his residency later this year in the Dartmouth Leadership and Preventive Medicine program in Lebanon, New Hampshire—the experience proved invaluable. He shares about life after Southern:

What does it mean to you to have been chosen as a Fulbright Scholar?
The Fulbright award enriched me personally and empowered me professionally. To this day, I feel indebted to God for the opportunity and still wonder whether my journey will one day lead me back to Central Asia.

What was your experience with the program?
The Fulbright program gave me tremendous freedom and responsibility in Kyrgyzstan. I led scientific expeditions, negotiated for government permits, and wrote grant applications, all without significant oversight.

What was the largest lesson learned through your experience?
Stay true to your core values and beliefs—even if that means delivering a toast with tea while everyone else is drunk with Vodka, for example—and people will respect you.

How will those experiences impact you as a doctor?
Though I ultimately decided against a career in international relations, I believe my experiences in Kyrgyzstan nevertheless confirmed in me a passion for networking and negotiation. I will bring this passion to the field of medicine.

How did your experience at Southern prepare you for life after college?
Southern provided an ideal environment for me to grow holistically. I made some of the most important friendships and connections of my life there. My major in biology gave me the chance to be mentored by outstanding professors, but the diverse liberal arts requirements at Southern also gave me the chance to learn from amazing men and women from the worlds of theology, business, music, and history, to name just a few. The Student Association also gave me countless opportunities to develop leadership skills as a Student Senator and SA president. Perhaps most importantly, however, I left Southern more grounded in my spiritual walk.

-by Lizzie Williams, senior public relations major

Emily (Perez) Long, ’06, Builds Print Magazine Platform for Critical Conversations

Editor Emily Long dreamed of creating an Adventist youth culture magazine when she was a teen. Several years later, she is publishing 71.5, a youth-centric publication named after Psalms 71:5 (“For you have been my hope, Sovereign LORD, my confidence from my youth.”) Long and her team of contributors have created six themed issues so far, with articles about everything from politics and current events to health and hot topics like LGBTQ relations within the church.  

Spectrum Magazine published a lengthy Q&A with Long in July. Here is an excerpt; the full interview can be read on Spectrum’s website.

Emily LongTell us how 71.5 got started. What gave you the idea? Who else works on the magazine?
I got the idea for the magazine when I was 17 years old. I was sitting in my guidance counselor’s office, wondering what on earth I was going to do with myself when I went to college, and I happened to look down at her desk and see all these magazines that were meant to inspire people like me to find their purpose. That’s when God gave me the idea. I wanted to use my artistic talents and become a graphic designer so that I could create a magazine that could utilize people like me: the creatives. I wanted to make something that was modern and designed well that would appeal to the younger generation. So that’s what I did. I went to Southern and got a degree in art and graphic design. God put me in the right places to learn the magazine ropes and, 17 years later, I was able to put this magazine together with the help of the Georgia-Cumberland Conference.

How did you get the Georgia-Cumberland Conference to sponsor your idea?
I was working with my church, Hamilton Community, on a smaller-scale magazine concept and was trying to find sponsors to potentially supplement our funds. When I contacted the Georgia-Cumberland Conference, Don Keele, Jr. saw something in the idea and wanted to make it bigger. I was looking for a $75 donation and ended up getting to create the magazine I had always envisioned. Nothing is too big for God!

What do you see as the role of 71.5? Are you an independent publication and do you feel free to be objective and critical?
The role of 71.5 to me is authenticity and communication. People, especially younger people, don’t want to be told what to talk about, what to learn about, what to think. They want to talk about what’s really going on in the world. So our publication tries to give people the platform to do that, without judgment or censorship. We’re not independent, but we have been blessed to be a part of a conference that understands our mission of authenticity. Of course, they are very careful (as am I) that we don’t send a non-biblical message. But they do see the value of discussion, even when it’s a controversial topic.

-by Alita Byrd (Spectrum Magazine)

Upcoming Events
Unless otherwise noted, all events are free and open to the public.

NAD Teachers’ Convention Ice Cream Social. August 8 from 1-2:30 p.m. (McCormick Place, West Building, Level 1, Meeting Room #187). Alumni in Chicago for the convention are encouraged to attend an ice cream sundae social on August 8. Meet with President David Smith and Southern staff, fellowship and network with alumni, and enjoy a delicious, complimentary dessert with us (vegan option available). Everyone attending the convention is invited to stop by Southern’s booth for a gift at any time.

Golf Tournament. August 26 from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Bear Trace Golf Course (Harrison Bay, Tennessee). $65/player fee. Open to alumni, students, employees, and community. Registration and more information are available online at southern.edu/golf.

Anthony Griffith and Beckah Shae Performance. September 1 at 9 p.m. in the Iles P.E. Center. Griffith is a clean comedian featured on ABC, Showtime, and HBO whose standup routine centers on families, relationships, children, and religion. Shae is a Christian music artist well-known for rewriting popular secular songs into Christian covers.

Iki Taimi Convocation. September 6 at 11 a.m. in the Collegedale Church of Seventh-day Adventists. Taimi is the senior pastor at the Gardena Genesis Community Church in California.

Constitution Day Celebration. September 13 at 11 a.m. in the Iles P.E. Center. Chris Benke, PhD, is a professor of history and the director of academic integrity at Bentley University. His primary interests are revolutionary and early America, intellectual history, and religious history.

Andy Crouch Convocation. September 20 at 11 a.m. in the Collegedale Church of Seventh-day Adventists. Crouch is a public speaker, author, and musician. His two most recently released books are The Tech-Wise Family and Strong and Weak: Embracing a Life of Love, Risk and True Flourishing.

Kristen Holritz Faculty Flute Recital. September 18 at 7:30 p.m. in Ackerman Auditorium. Adjunct Professor Kristen Holritz, principal flutist of the Chattanooga Symphony and Opera, will be joined by Kaitlyn Vest, cello, and ChoEun Lee, pianist.

Symphony Orchestra Concert. September 30 at 7:30 p.m. in the Collegedale Church of Seventh-day Adventists. Under the direction of Laurie Redmer Minner, the ensemble will perform César Franck’s Symphony in D minor, among other works.

Homecoming Weekend: October 25-28. Honor classes: 1938, ’48, ’58, ’68, ’73, ’78, ’88, ’93, ’98, ’08. Special features include: Gym-Masters Reunion, Parade of Nations, Missions Expo, and Legacy Preview Southern (for alumni with prospective students). Worship services speaker is Pierre Monice, ’07. Registration and more information are available online at southern.edu/community.  


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