In preparation for the return of students and employees to campus for the Fall 2020 semester—which begins August 24—Southern has put in place a number of new safety measures. These precautions were developed by a special task force to help employees and students return to in-person instruction as safely as possible during the COVID-19 pandemic, hopefully giving parents some peace of mind.

Fall 2010 Semester“I want my son to have the complete Southern experience. While we all have come to expect a certain amount of ‘virtual’ in our lives these days, there is nothing like the real thing,” said Franklin Farrow, ’93, board member and parent of a current student. “The university is working hard to safely provide the real thing to students, and I trust that the preparations made will provide the best opportunity to those who want to experience the fullness of life that Southern offers.”

These are the top five ways Southern is working to guard against infection and viral transmission this fall:

Enhanced Air Purification. Southern has taken the special precaution of installing new purification systems in all buildings on campus. The needlepoint bipolar ionization provides hospital-level air purification in all classrooms, offices, meeting areas, and residence halls. The technology works by emitting charged ions that bind to airborne particles and neutralize pathogens, such as the coronavirus. The installation has attracted attention from local churches, schools, and the media, as well as other universities across the country.

Electrostatic Cleaning. In addition to increasing cleaning frequency, the university’s sanitation team has a powerful tool in their arsenal: electrostatic spraying machines. These special devices evenly disperse hospital-grade cleaning agents throughout a room, disinfecting even hard-to-reach places. This ensures that high-contact surfaces and heavily trafficked areas receive a deep cleaning frequently. 

Daily Screening. All employees, students, and visitors are required to participate in a daily health assessment that includes a symptom survey and temperature check. This will help quickly identify individuals who may be infected.

Masks. To help protect others from infection, masks are required in all public spaces, classrooms, and rooms where multiple people work and wherever in-person interactions occur, including when less than 6 feet from others outdoors. Washable masks will be provided to all students and employees.

Revised Calendar. To reduce the amount of travel and send students home at a time when viruses are typically more prevalent, Southern has adjusted the Fall 2020 semester schedule. The new calendar ends in-person instruction at Thanksgiving break, followed by two weeks of distance coursework, completing the semester on December 11.

Additionally, Southern is reducing classroom capacity, increasing the number of hand-sanitizing stations on campus, installing Plexiglas at key interaction points, adjusting social activities, and streamlining how food is served, along with other precautions. These safety measures were developed in collaboration with the University Health Center to meet or exceed state and Center for Disease Control health guidelines for higher education. More information is available at

Despite needing to take these extra precautions during the COVID-19 pandemic, registration at Southern is on track for a full campus this fall.

“Our students are the heart of Southern Adventist University,” said President David Smith, PhD, in an email to students. “We believe this will be an amazing fall semester, complete with vespers, intramurals, Student Association events, and face-to-face classes. We can’t wait to start it with you!”

-Staff Report


The spring and summer months saw a quieter Southern than normal as students left Collegedale and transitioned to distance learning in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Campus remained active, however, as the pandemic had minimal impact on two important construction projects. Crews took advantage of dry weather to make tremendous progress on the Bietz Center for Student Life construction and McKee Library renovations.

Bietz Center for Student LifeThe Bietz Center for Student Life passed several milestones recently, including:

• HVAC duct work complete,
• Plumbing rough-in complete,
• Electrical rough-in complete on first floor,
• Sprinkler system installed/inspected by the fire marshal, and
• Interior steel stud framing complete and inspected.

Other important benchmarks will be met by the end of August, including the completion of exterior masonry work (including field stones on the retaining wall) and installation of exterior windows. Interior sheetrocking is scheduled to commence this month—an important marker that construction is in the home stretch! Southern estimates employees could begin moving into their offices by March 2021.

To stay current on construction progress, visit Southern’s online photo gallery or construction webcam. A virtual tour of the Bietz Center is being offered as part of a virtual Homecoming Weekend in October as well.

McKee Library McKee Library is celebrating its 50th anniversary this school year. To jump-start the festivities, Southern recently replaced all 36 of the library’s original windows with modern, energy efficient upgrades. Gifts from alumni and friends of the university fully funded the $125,000 project. In addition, the building is scheduled to undergo a major exterior facelift beginning in May 2021 (see details and renderings in previous QuickNotes article).

Additional acknowledgment of McKee Library’s 50th anniversary includes interior banners and historical displays, as well as an online event during Homecoming Weekend where Zane Yi, ’00, PhD, will reflect on how all knowledge comes from God. Yi, an associate professor in Loma Linda University’s School of Religion, is a founding member of the Society of Adventist Philosophers and has pastored churches in Tennessee, Southern California, New York, and Georgia.

-Staff Report


Classical 90.5 WSMC has served a variety of purposes at Southern Adventist University and in the community since it first began broadcasting nearly 60 years ago. The 100,000-watt radio station is transitioning to new governance under Southern’s School of Journalism and Communication this fall, a move that provides increased opportunities for students from multiple majors to learn both technical and soft skills.

“Our focus remains delighting our classical music audience—that’s who we are—but increased student involvement will be a key difference,” said Scott Kornblum, general manager for the station since 2009. “We’ll look for more class projects involving the radio station and other ways to create practical learning.”

WSMC's Scott KornblumWith the transition, professors now have more direct opportunities to integrate WSMC into a wide range of curriculum: public relations, public speaking, social media, and audio editing, just to name a few. Southern students already enjoy a wealth of hands-on media training, such as the weekly student newspaper, campus television station, and podcasts produced by the School of Journalism and Communication. However, WSMC brings unique value to that mix as a result of its size and audience; the station has a 180-mile broadcast radius and 20,000-25,000 weekly listeners.

In an additional effort to boost student involvement, Southern’s School of Music will involve some of its majors on air as program hosts as well as by sharing original pieces from faculty and students with listeners.

One of the newest School of Journalism and Communication faculty members will function as a liaison between the academic and business sides of the station. Associate Professor Victoria Joiner, EdD, brings considerable broadcasting experience to Southern, including more than two decades with Oakwood University’s radio station, where she worked in administration, production, and underwriting and as vocal talent.

“I’m here to support and affirm Kornblum’s management,” Joiner said. “I pray that our academic contributions will help the station grow and prosper.” 

For more information about the station, or to listen live, visit

-Staff Report


The Worthington meat alternative brand, established in 1939, was the first manufacturer of its kind in America. For more than 80 years, it has been a staple among vegetarians, especially Seventh-day Adventists. Students representing multiple majors on campus are taking advantage of a unique opportunity to connect with this venerable brand––all without entering the kitchen or attending a church potluck.

It’s not every day that college students have the chance to work with and learn from professionals at a nationally-known company located just steps from their residence halls and apartments. Southern students have multiple options, including McKee Foods (see previous QuickNotes article) and Heritage Health Food, manufacturer of the Worthington and Cedar Lake brands. Heritage Health Food is headquartered in Collegedale’s Fleming Plaza, occupying office space on campus between the Village Market grocery store and the Adventist Book Center.

Professors from Southern’s School of Visual Art and Design recommended a marketing internship with Heritage Health Food to Ashley (Simpson) Herrera, ’20, in the spring of 2019. She spent her summer earning academic credit for a variety of projects, such as assisting in Worthington packaging and website redesigns. Herrera also managed social media accounts and helped create analysis reports.

Worthington“Working for Heritage Health Food—specifically on the Worthington line of products—was a great opportunity for my professional growth, as well as my spiritual growth since we had worship time together every morning,” Herrera said. “Even though the internship wasn’t a paying job, I enjoyed several other perks, such as getting to try the products, free merchandise, and building long-lasting friendships and professional networks.”

Heritage Health Food’s location is ideal for internships at the company’s headquarters, but staff there are open to students working remotely during the COVID-19 pandemic. Opportunities are available for a variety of majors, including business, communications, English, graphic design, and public relations, among others.

“I find Southern students to be full of energy, filled with fresh ideas, and up to date on the latest social media trends,” said Jon Fish, vice president of marketing for Heritage Health Food. “And on top of that, they seek to make a meaningful difference.”

The company’s engagement with students extends beyond internships. Employees have visited campus as guest speakers and offered cases of Worthington products, such as the new XBurger, at no cost to the Student Association for certain fundraising events. As sales of plant-based meats continue to skyrocket—2019 realized nearly 20% growth in the market—opportunities abound both for Heritage Health Food and the students who take advantage of its connection to Southern.

-by Lucas Patterson, QuickNotes editor

alumni highlights

With Florida emerging as a COVID-19 hotspot, the national media called upon a prominent Southern alum to address medical readiness in the state. CBS recently broadcast a 6-minute interview with AdventHealth president and CEO Terry Shaw, ’84, on its Face the Nation program.

Terry ShawAdventHealth is the largest hospital system headquartered in Florida, making Shaw uniquely qualified to address questions regarding the availability of sufficient ICU beds, ventilators, personal protection equipment, and medical staff. Without minimizing the pandemic’s impact, he shared positive news about COVID-19 cases being treated within AdventHealth facilities; the length of stay, number of patients requiring ventilators, and death rate are all down. Instead of requesting federal help or other bureaucratic assistance to further fight the virus, Shaw made an appeal to the public for improved mask wearing and social distancing, saying: “We can all do a better job making sure we’re caring for one another.”

-Staff Report

ABC World News Tonight recently interviewed Southern attendee and Harvard Law School graduate Ray Halbritter for a television segment about Washington, D.C.’s professional football team adopting a new, more racially sensitive name and mascot.

Ray HalbritterHalbritter, Oneida Indian Nation Representative and chief executive officer of its enterprises, is a longtime advocate for an improved understanding of Native American history and culture. Nearly a decade ago, he launched the “Change the Mascot” campaign which brought together leading tribal, civil rights, religious, and elected officials in an effort to get Washington to change its team name—which was a dictionary-defined slur. Over the years, Halbritter met with President Barack Obama and other high-profile officials while sharing his passion for the cause.

In addition, Halbritter works to provide learning opportunities both about and for Native Americans. Under his leadership, the Oneida Nation endowed a professorship at Harvard for teaching American Indian law, and he initiated the Native American Scholarship Fund at Southern in 2013, where his support provides thousands of dollars in tuition relief to students each year.

Additional gifts to the Native American Scholarship Fund may be made online (choose “other” from the pull-down menu) or by calling 423.236.2829.

-Staff Report

Virtual Homecoming Weekend 2020. October 29 to November 1. Many exciting activities are being planned for you to celebrate meaningful milestones and connections with former classmates and professors. The Alumni Golf Tournament is the only in-person event scheduled as part of the festivities. For more information, visit or call 423.236.2830.


We are excited to offer an experience for our alumni and friends called Southern Community Online. Create an account which will grant you access to our alumni directory, event calendar and registration, your giving history, and more.
Southern Community

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