The bulk of construction work on the Bietz Center recently transitioned from exterior to interior projects, just in time for cooler weather. This beautiful new hub of activity on campus, fully funded by gifts from alumni and friends of Southern, is scheduled for completion in late spring with employees moving into their Bietz Center offices over the summer.

Bietz Center

Staff and contractors working on the building continue to benefit from proactive planning by Southern’s leadership team that has minimized logistical disruptions brought on by the pandemic.

“We ordered many of our supplies before COVID-19 hit last year, including lighting, furnishings, and flooring,” said Marty Hamilton, associate vice president for Financial Administration, “so we have everything on hand to finish the building.”

Interior progress includes:
- Brickwork finished for The Hub (bookstore) and CK2 (eatery)
- Ceramic walls and floors tiled in restrooms
- Elevators installed
- Freezers and refrigerators installed for CK2
- Interior glass installed
- Millwork and cabinets installed (first and second floors)
- Walls painted (first and second floors)

To stay current on construction progress, visit Southern’s online photo gallery or construction webcam.

-Staff Report 

Campus Life
David Jimenez, ’75 business alum, serves on Southern’s Board of Trustees. In December 2020, Jimenez was appointed by the board as chair of the search committee leading the process of selecting Southern’s next president. He recently shared the following update on the process and expected timeline.

David Jiminez

What has been your involvement on Southern’s Board of Trustees?
“I have served on the board in two, non-consecutive decades, first in the ’90s and again starting in 2014. I presently serve as chair of the Governance Committee and as a member of the Finance Committee.”

What is the structure of this committee?
“The 10-member committee, all of whom are members of the Board of Trustees, has a diverse make-up of educators, church leaders, and business people, including female and minority representation.”

What process has the search committee followed?
“The committee’s first decision was to hire a professional search firm, Faith Search Partners, to assist with the search process. Faith Search is owned by Seventh-day Adventists and is involved in conducting searches for the denomination and other Christian organizations throughout the United States. We felt this firm would help Southern find a leader who was dedicated to our mission and core values and who is committed to the Adventist faith and its tenets. Faith Search spent several weeks in October and November interviewing Southern’s many stakeholders to understand the type of leader and the important characteristics needed in the next president of the university. Included in those interviews were university leadership and professors, student leaders, alumni, and community members. From the interviews, a detailed assessment report was developed and shared with the search committee and the board.”

According to Jimenez, the assessment included these characteristics and skills determined to be important for consideration in the selection of the next president:

1) Spirituality and the ability to instill a strong spiritual character in the culture of the university 
2) Innovation
3) Be the face of the university to the broader Chattanooga community
4) Provide leadership to fundraising activities
5) Business acumen

After determining the characteristics and skills needed, what were the next steps in the process?
“Faith Search then sent more than 800 inquiries to Adventist colleges and universities within the United States and internationally. Inquiries were also sent to non-denominational colleges and universities where Adventist educational leaders were known to be engaged. Forty resumes were received and processed. From this group, 15 candidates were interviewed and evaluated by the experts at Faith Search. Résumés for seven candidates were then presented to the search committee. Finally, five of these candidates were selected for interviews with the committee, which took place in early February.”

When will the new president be announced and begin to assume responsibilities at Southern?
“The search committee’s intent is to present a final candidate to the Board of Trustees at its regularly scheduled meeting at the end of February. If all goes according to our prayers and plans, the board’s final choice will be announced publicly sometime early to mid-spring. The new president will begin work at Southern toward the end of May.”

-Staff Report 

Three students at Southern Adventist University were awarded the 2020-2021 Rita Vital Endowed Scholarship for Faith and Service-Learning in November. Chosen for demonstrating a deep desire to serve others during their time in college, this year’s honorees are biology majors Kevin Singh and Nicole Pustea and music major Angelyn Edwards.

Rita Vital ScholarshipIn 2017, Southern alum Greg Vital, president and CEO of Morning Pointe Senior Living and Independent Healthcare Properties, established the fund to honor his mother, Rita Vital, and her lifelong pursuit of service and support for Christian education.

“I am humbled that my son made this endowment in my name,” Rita said. “True joy comes from a life of service. I am proud of these young people, and I would like for them to experience the same happiness that I have felt while spreading love and truth to others.”

“Service fills that void in your life,” Greg said. “Education is not only about furthering your own achievements but also should focus on bettering the lives of others. Recipients are chosen based on their history of service along with their potential to impact the lives of others in the future. I expect that these recipients will continue to give back in many ways; I am inspired by all three.”

Service is an integral part of Southern’s mission, with opportunities provided throughout the year for students to get involved in the local community, as well as internationally. The university’s goal is for students to make serving others a life-long habit.

“I would encourage others not to be afraid to serve,” Edwards said. “Service connects me to God and to others. I have seen how God can use any talent, even if not in the most typical fashion.”

-Madison Reinschmidt, junior mass communication major

Southern is excited to invite alumni and other friends of the university to participate in virtual events on February 25 that highlight the intersections of faith and art. Makoto Fujimura—an artist, writer, and speaker recognized worldwide as a cultural influencer—will present two live sessions with the extended campus family via interactive Zoom webinars.

ArtistGiselle Hasel, ’04, MFA, associate professor in the School of Visual Art and Design, is spearheading the collaborative event with support from Student Development and the Lynn Wood Archaeological Museum.

“Fujimura uses the Bible as his source for inspiration and has become accepted and well received in the New York, Los Angeles, and international gallery scene,” Hasel said. “This tells me that if you are a good artist, you can express your Christianity in a secular world without being apologetic.”

Fujimura’s two presentations for Southern include:
“The Theology of Making” (11 a.m. EST)
What Fujimura does in the studio is a theological work as much as an aesthetic one. While pouring pulverized minerals onto handmade paper to create prismatic, refractive surfaces, he finds quiet space that fosters awareness, patience, prayer, and praise.

“Culture Care” (3:30 p.m. EST)
Fujimura’s afternoon discussion is intended for Christian art students and creative professionals. He will lead participants in the consideration of how their work can be a spiritual calling to uplift culture through the integration of thoughtful aesthetics and beauty into common life.

As part of each presentation, Southern faculty and pastoral staff will join Fujimura for panel discussions. The webinar format allows participants to type in questions for the speaker and panelists to address, as time allows.

Both presentations are free for alumni and friends of the university. Register online at southern.edu/faithandart.

“Our goal for these presentations is to further empower students and alumni to express their Christianity in ways that give us new conversational and theological possibilities,” Hasel said. “I hope they can feel inspired to think deeply about their understanding of God and express that in ways that will be not only attractive but also compelling to a world that is looking for answers.”

-Staff Report 


 alumni highlights

Love must be in the air! The Alumni Relations team is excited to recognize more than 3,500 alumni married couples. For Valentine’s Day, Southern alumni couples were invited to share how their alma mater played a part in their life-long journey together. 

Southern Sweethearts

From walks on the Promenade, to first dates at the Campus Kitchen, to even reconnecting after leaving campus, every couple’s story is an ode to “Southern Matrimonial College” and their journey together. 

More than 50 stories have been submitted so far! Many alumni shared heartwarming and funny stories about how they met—some going back more than 70 years and highlighting multiple generations of alumni, current students, and future alumni! 

“We’ve enjoyed reading these unique and special stories,” said Evonne Crook, ’79, director of Alumni Relations. “We’d love for you to share your story along with a photo or two!”

To tell your story, visit southern.edu/sweethearts.  

This celebration of love also marks the launch of the Southern Sweethearts program. Through this initiative, newlywed alumni couples who complete this form before their first wedding anniversary will receive a gift from the Alumni Association to celebrate their new journey together.

A Southern Sweetheart couple is defined as an attendee/graduate married to another Southern attendee/graduate.

-Staff Report 


Campus Life
For many college students, including those at Southern Adventist University, COVID-19’s effects came in the form of cancelled internships, postponed summers abroad, delayed graduations, and a crippled job market. Just as millennials graduated into a recession in 2008, Gen Z’ers graduated into a volatile job market in 2020. However, as digital natives, this generation of college students not only craves independence from the 9-to-5 grind but has the creativity and digital savviness to pull it off. 

423 Night Market

Kenneth Bautista, sophomore management major, was undergoing strenuous chemotherapy treatments during the COVID-19 lockdown and was limited to his house. He and his brother brainstormed ways to make money from home. During the summer of 2020, they decided to take everything they had stored in their garage and sell it online via Facebook Marketplace, Craigslist, and Ebay. Within two weeks, all of it sold. 

The brothers then began scouting for items to purchase and refurbish. Their father found a store that sold Amazon returns, so they started there. Ultimately, though, to raise their profit, they looked for ways to shop local and purchase what they needed directly from the source. Soon, Bautista found a warehouse that sold pallets of damaged or returned goods, and the brothers began buying, refurbishing and selling them. 

As fall semester began at Southern, Bautista rerouted his business, Markdown Mart, to selling dorm essentials—laundry detergent, multipurpose cleaners, and shampoo, among many other things—to Southern students at discounted rates. While Bautista launched his business from a need to keep busy, he now uses the earnings to cover his tuition.

Darcie Denton, senior fine arts major, has amassed an Instagram following of 36.2K from commissioned work and selling original art pieces, prints, stickers, shirts, and sweatshirts. She uses her platform, @thatoneartist, to promote her work and occasionally post sponsored content. After graduating, she eventually wants to run her business full-time.

The spike in entrepreneurial growth among Southern students culminated in a new student tradition in 2019 when Southern’s Student Association president at the time, Rhidge Garcia, ’19, led his team in hosting the university’s first ever 423 Night Market. Held regularly since then, students are able to keep 100% of their earnings. Last semester, more than 75 vendors participated.

“423 Night Market has helped grow my confidence in my business and, most importantly, connected me to many around the area and those enrolled at Southern,” says Laiza Fuhrmann, senior fine arts major and founder of Lai Ceramics, where she sells her handmade pieces. “My studio professors have also helped me forge connections with other artists and people in the art community, for which I am so grateful.”

With tools developed while at Southern, students are experiencing success by discovering ways to deepen their creativity, launching small businesses on the side, and paving their way into a future more uncertain than it has been for other graduates in recent years.

-Staff Adaptation. Read the complete article and follow-up written by Natalia Perez, ’19, marketing and communications intern at Trend magazine in Chattanooga, Tennessee.


Upcoming Events
Thursday, February 25. Open to alumni, university friends, and current students. 

• “The Theology of Making” | 11 a.m. (EST) Register here
• “Culture Care” | 3:30 p.m. (EST). Register here

Thursday, March 4 | 12-5 p.m. (EST). Open to alumni and current students, hosted through Handshake

Alumni and friends are invited to livestream Evensong and concerts each week during the winter semester. View upcoming performances here

Alumni Relations is pleased to offer Southern alumni and friends access to a range of live webinars and online events as a new, complimentary service. Visit southern.edu/alumni-webinars to learn and register for upcoming events.


When you use AmazonSmile, you can also support Southern students. It provides the same products, prices, and shopping features as Amazon.com. The difference is that when you shop on AmazonSmile and select Southern as the charitable organization of your choice, the AmazonSmile Foundation will donate 0.5% of the purchase price of eligible products to Southern.

AmazonSmile works on your computer browser and Amazon Shopping phone app (available for IOS and Google Play for Android). In the phone app, find “Settings” in the main menu (☰), then tap on “AmazonSmile” and follow the on-screen instructions to enable the service on your phone.

Support Southern when you shop at AmazonSmile!  

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