Campus Life
The Southern Adventist University Board of Trustees voted unanimously on February 28 for Ken Shaw, EdD, to become the 27th president of the university. He will assume office on June 1.

Shaw graduated from Southern in 1980 with a Bachelor of Arts in Mathematics and will be the university’s first alum to return as president. In fact, his entire family graduated from Southern: his wife, Ann (Kennedy), earned her nursing degree in 1979; their daughter, Kate Myers, earned her associate and bachelor’s degrees in nursing in 2008 and 2009; and their son, Martin, earned his pastoral care degree in 2012.

Shaw“Ann and I cherish our memories from Southern,” Shaw said. “Returning to campus is like coming home for us, and we’re delighted to be part of this institution. I really admire that Southern is still fundamentally centered on its mission and on the core values that the institution has been about for 129 years.”

For the past seven years, Shaw has served as president of Southwestern Adventist University in Keene, Texas. Previously he worked at Florida State University for 25 years in various capacities, from assistant professor of mathematics education to campus dean of Florida State University Panama City and academic dean of the College of Applied Studies. His track record as a leader in higher education includes increasing enrollment, establishing new academic programs, and improving institutional financial stability.

“I am pleased that Dr. Ken Shaw has accepted our invitation to be the next president of Southern Adventist University,” said Ron Smith, PhD, DMin, chairman of Southern’s Board of Trustees and president of the Southern Union Conference of Seventh-day Adventists. “The unanimous decision of the board is strong evidence that the will of God has been executed. We thank the Lord for His providential leading and anticipate His blessing in the Southern community as a result of Dr. Shaw’s acceptance.”

Shaw will succeed David Smith, PhD, who announced in October 2020 that he will retire at the end of May after five years as president and 22 years of total service at Southern Adventist University.

-Staff Report

Nearly 80 Southern students worked together to surprise Southern’s University Health Center (UHC) personnel with flower arrangements, handmade cards, and goodie bags this February. Junior chemistry major Jared Freeman, who is a resident assistant in Talge Hall and a Freshman Experience mentor, came up with the idea after hearing President David Smith explain that the UHC staff were working extra-long hours to keep the campus safe.

“I had just gotten out of quarantine at the time, and I saw how hard the health center employees were working for me,” Freeman said. “The highlight of my days in quarantine was when I got to interact with the nurse who checked on me every day. So, when I heard the president’s message, I wanted to do something special for them.” 

Freeman began by talking to the students living on his hall, as well as his Freshman Experience mentees, about raising money to buy flowers for the UHC staff. His girlfriend, Emily Meadows, junior nursing major, is also a Freshman Experience mentor and rallied her mentees, too. They created goodie bags filled with chocolates, lotion, tea, and lip balm, along with handmade cards to go with the flowers.  

UHCTogether, the students raised nearly $400 for the project. Freeman then called Blluum Floral and Event Design in Ooltewah to purchase the flower arrangements. Shop owner Christine Waldrop, ’92 and ’14, a Southern alum, parent of a current student, and member of the university’s Board of Trustees, was touched by Freeman’s kindness, and she donated additional flowers to the cause. 

“I was blown away that a university student would want to do this,” Waldrop said. “I love seeing other people spreading kindness, especially in a time that is difficult for many people. What these students did was so personalized and intentional.”

Freeman, Meadows, and Waldrop, met at the University Health Center on Monday, February 15, to distribute the flowers and care packages. 

The message included with each gift said: “We want to say thank you. Thank you for the long hours that you have put in. Thank you for keeping us safe. Thank you for allowing us to be on campus through the hard work that you do. The words ‘thank you’ do not even begin to express how much your dedication and commitment to our campus means to us. These flowers are just a small token of our appreciation. We hope you have a blessed week. – Students at SAU”  

“I am so grateful for the gift and hope they all know how special they made me feel,” said UHC Receptionist Mari Oskins, ’01. “Sometimes it feels as though our work is done in vain. This has been a frustrating year for all of us, and it’s nice to know that some people understand why we are doing what needs to be done.”

“This experience has shown me that there are so many people who are helping on a daily basis who are not always appreciated,” Freeman said. “I encourage others to fill a need when they see it. Ultimately, we all want to help others, it just takes someone willing to initiate the first step.”

-by Madison Reinschmidt, junior mass communications major

Southern Adventist University’s School of Journalism and Communication is upgrading its broadcast studio and recently donated its old TV news set to an academy to help inspire future journalists.

For nearly 20 years, the department has used a news set that was acquired from Chattanooga’s WRCB Channel 3. It has served as a training ground for students to learn broadcast news skills, work behind the scenes, and use equipment such as teleprompters and cameras.

SJC“The TV news studio was becoming outdated and took up a lot of room,” said Stephen Ruf, associate professor of journalism and communication. “Our team saw the need for a new set that would be more flexible and lightweight and that could serve more purposes within the studio.”

Department leadership decided to offer the old set to Heritage Academy in Monterey, Tennessee, so that younger students could train to become missionary communicators. The academy team, which already taught some video production and communication classes, gladly accepted the offer.

“Last year, we only had a cloth backdrop and studio lights available to use for our weekly news,” said Bobby Mihaila, video production instructor at Heritage Academy. “We hope this new set will provide a more professional environment and give a better learning experience.”

Plans for Southern’s new TV news set are still underway, and completion is expected by May.

Additionally, the School of Journalism and Communication has installed a new interview set to expand hands-on training for future media professionals.

As part of Southern’s annual Giving Day held February 16-17, the School of Journalism and Communication raised $5,476 through direct gifts from supportive alumni and friends of Southern to help fund the renovation of the studio and new equipment costs. In addition, the department won $11,000 in Giving Day competition challenges, raising its total to $16,476 in newly available funds for the project. Total renovations cost approximately $25,000; gifts to help complete the new studio may be made online or by calling 423.236.2829.

-by Madison Reinschmidt, junior mass communications major

alumni highlights

“Every gift comes with a story, I suppose,” said Pastor Clyde Leeds, ’71. The story of Clyde and Carole (Perry) Leeds, ’87, and their gift begins in 1968 when Clyde left a full scholarship at a public university in his home state of Florida to attend Southern Missionary College and pursue a Christian education. Clyde had long desired to serve God as a minister, but business losses made it impossible for his parents to pay for a Christian education, so he (and later Carole) relied on grants, loans, and their earnings to pay tuition costs. 

Clyde worked in the cafeteria, eventually becoming an assistant chef making $1.55 an hour on the work study program. While working, he became acquainted with a lovely Christian farm girl from Georgia named Carole Perry. She had recently become a Seventh-day Adventist, and had also chosen Southern for a Christian education, studying home economics. 

LeedsDuring his senior year, Clyde and Carole were married. They spent 31 years serving the Lord together in pastoral ministry in the Kentucky-Tennessee and Georgia-Cumberland conferences. After their two sons began school, Carole returned to college to complete her degree in elementary education. In addition to pastoral ministry, the Leeds have worked as educators in both public and Christian schools. 

The Leeds had a strong desire to help more young people receive the quality Christian education that they had benefited from, and they began contributing to a worthy student scholarship fund at Southern. They also included Southern in their estate plan with a bequest of real estate in Florida; once sold, it would further help students. Recently, the couple decided that rather than waiting, they would like students to benefit from their gift now. They sold the property and donated the proceeds to the university’s Legacy Society Scholarship Fund. 

The Leeds stated, “We both want to take this opportunity to thank Southern Adventist University for the loans and grants we received that made it possible to receive this Christian education we value so much. Not only for us, but also our two sons who graduated from Southern.”

Learn more about giving opportunities and help change the lives of students attending Southern.

-by Kimberly Bobenhausen, director for Planned Giving

Upcoming Events
Webinar: Job Interview Advice. March 31 at 7 p.m. Southern alumni, students, and friends are invited to attend an upcoming webinar, sponsored by the Alumni Association: Mastering the Job Interview: Advice from an HR Professional. Jeni (Hasselbrack) Ingersoll, ’00 and ’06, serves as the vice president and regional human resource business partner for AdventHealth’s southeast region. During the webinar, Ingersoll will share tips and tricks on how to master interviews, whether in-person or virtually. To access the Zoom link, visit to register.

School of Music Performances. A variety of musical events this Spring are being offered live online:

March 27, 7:30 p.m. – Evensong: organ students
April 3, 7:30 p.m. – Evensong: choirs and brass quintet
April 10, 7:30 p.m. – Evensong: voice students
April 11, 7:30 p.m. – Wind Symphony
April 17, 7:30 p.m. – Evensong: organ students
April 18, 7:30 p.m. – Symphony Orchestra
April 19, 7:30 p.m. – Brass Quintet
April 24, 5:30 p.m. – Choral Ensembles
April 24, 9 p.m. – Jazz Ensemble
April 27, 7:30 p.m. – Steel Band


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