We are so excited to welcome our extended Southern Adventist University family back to campus for Homecoming in person and virtually!

Homecoming 2021Theme: Celebrating His Blessings

Honor classes: 1940, ’41, ’50, ’51, ’60, ’61, ’70, ’71, ’75, ’76, ’80, ’81, ’90, ’91, ’00, ’01, ’10, ‘11

Highlights include:

• Don Keele Jr., ’81 – worship services speaker
• 50- and 25-year class reunions
• Bietz Center for Student Life tours
• Michael Hasel – archaeology presentation
• Evensong – Deep 6, alumni low brass ensemble
• Southern Shuffle – 5K run and 1-mile run/walk
• Golf Tournament  

Events and activities continue to be added to the weekend as more details are confirmed. View the updated schedule and register now at

-Staff Report

On September 23, more than 80 community members, Southern employees, and members of the university’s Board of Trustees gathered in downtown Chattanooga for a special come-and-go reception. This event provided President Ken Shaw, ’80, EdD; his wife, Ann (Kennedy) Shaw, ’79; and some of the city’s most prominent business and civic leaders an opportunity to connect one-on-one.

Ken Shaw ReceptionAs attendees congregated, the room buzzed with conversations; however, guests paused and listened attentively as President Shaw took to the podium and shared brief remarks highlighting the university’s commitment to serving alongside them in Chattanooga. He also reminded the group that Southern’s students and graduates are a wise investment for those looking for interns or employees. Several students from Southern’s Symphony Orchestra shared their skills during the event, performing as a string ensemble.

Additionally, the reception featured a drawing for two prizes: $1,000 worth of underwriting from Classical 90.5 WSMC and $300 worth of flowers from Blluum, a floral shop and event design company in Ooltewah, Tennessee, owned by trustee Christine (Jenkins) Waldrop, ’92. She wasn’t the only contributing alum. The Westin Chattanooga, a Marriott property owned by brothers Byron, ’77, and Ken, ’71, DeFoor, hosted the evening’s activities.

The reception was a whirlwind of activity but the Shaws enjoyed the individual conversations, which each held its own promise for future connection and collaboration.

“It was such an honor to meet so many community leaders,” the president said. “Southern Adventist University is honored to be part of Chattanooga and the surrounding community. I look forward to working together with and for this community in the years ahead.”

-Staff Report

This month, the dean of Southern’s School of Nursing was honored by the Champions of Health Care program for her volunteer efforts. Holly Gadd, PhD, Southern’s AdventHealth Chair of Nursing Education, was selected by the Chattanooga and Hamilton County Medical Society to receive the 2021 Health Care Volunteer Award. Recipients of this award have demonstrated commitment and passion for serving those in need. The Champions of Health Care program recognizes excellence, promotes innovation, and educates the community about best practices to enhance the value and quality of health care in the Chattanooga area.

“Dr. Gadd has a decades-long history of using her nurse practitioner training to serve the needs of others, both locally and abroad,” said Robert Young, PhD, senior vice president for Academic Administration at Southern. “Dr. Gadd is clearly a worthy recipient of this award.”

Holly GaddGadd has worked at Southern since 2000, and among other service projects, for 14 years she has volunteered as the lead nurse practitioner at Volunteers in Medicine Chattanooga. The organization meets the medical needs of people with no health insurance or access to health care. According to Joel Henderson, executive director, more than 70,000 patients have benefitted from the efforts of Gadd and her colleagues.

“Holly is incredibly compassionate and exudes Matthew 25—the biblical foundation on which our clinic was founded and continues to carry on today,” said Henderson, who is a 1994 graduate of Southern. “This embodies Holly’s ceaseless advocacy for the greater community in which she helps make a positive daily impact to the medically underserved and most vulnerable.”

Gadd is grateful for the volunteer work she has done over the years.

“I look forward to interacting with the patients, volunteers, and staff at the clinic; I love what I do there,” Gadd said. “When you’re giving of yourself, there’s a joy that you receive. It touches my heart that others recognize and appreciate that our community looks out for people.”

-Madison Reinschmidt, junior mass communication major

Southern is pleased to welcome Ellen Hostetler as the new vice president for Advancement. Hostetler, who began her responsibilities on September 13, is no stranger to Southern; since 2017, she has served as an adjunct instructor in the School of Business, teaching introduction to business and personal finance courses. She brings more than six years of fundraising experience to her new role, having most recently served as director of development for It Is Written, a faith-based media ministry headquartered in Ooltewah, Tennessee. Additionally, Hostetler holds a master’s degree in entrepreneurship from the University of Florida.

Ellen Hostetler“I’m thrilled that Ellen will be heading up our Advancement team and serving as an important member of Southern’s administration,” said President Ken Shaw, ’80, EdD. “As I have gotten to know her, I am impressed with Ellen’s passion and enthusiasm for growing the philanthropic support for Southern, building and nurturing strong and lasting relationships with our alumni and friends, and maximizing the potential of each member of the Advancement team.”
Originally from Minnesota, Hostetler enjoys snow skiing, mountain hiking in Colorado, baking sour dough bread, and she recently took up acrylic landscape painting. She describes herself as falling in love with Jesus every day.

“I’m excited to combine my passion for education and ministry as I partner with the friends, alumni, and investors of Southern Adventist University in reaching a world for Christ through Christian education,” Hostetler said. “It’s a wonderful honor to watch former students and friends of the university see their passion and initiatives realized as the next generation of leaders are trained and equipped through their generosity.”

-Staff Writer

On August 27, 1971, Mark (attended) met his future wife, Beverly (Stephens) Sorensen, ’73, following a vespers program at Southern. Fifty years later, on August 27, 2021—after 48 years of marriage—Mark surprised Beverly by taking her on a vespers date to celebrate this special milestone where it all began. They even sat in the same church pew where they first met.

“When people ask me where to find a soulmate, I say to find them in church,” Mark said.

Prior to arriving on campus to celebrate their 50th anniversary, Mark coordinated with the Alumni Relations office for yet another surprise. During the program that evening, Joseph Khabbaz, vice president for Spiritual Life, invited the couple on stage to share their story with students and concluded with a prayer of blessing for them.

Sorenson“It was a tremendous blessing to have Mark and Beverly celebrate with us during our first vespers of the school year,” Khabbaz said. “Their Christ-centered relationship inspired our students to seek God first, especially when choosing a spouse.”

As Mark tells the story, on that significant night 50 years ago, he spotted two lovely ladies—Beverly and her roommate—across the church. Mark convinced his friend that they should introduce themselves. Two days later, Mark asked Beverly on a date. She turned him down twice before finally agreeing to go out with him. Twenty-two months later, the two were married, and they now have three children, all Southern graduates.

“As you can see, Southern has become a tradition where God can guide you,” Mark said.  

Southern is proud to recognize more than 3,500 married alumni couples! In February 2021, Alumni Relations launched Southern Sweethearts, a program designed to celebrate newlywed alumni couples with a special gift. Visit to enroll in this complimentary gift program.

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

-Ashley (Noonan) Fox, ’15, assistant director of Alumni Relations

Nearly 600 freshmen at Southern Adventist University started the year off by participating in Freshman Service Day, carrying out projects on campus and in the local community. According to Julie Devlin, local engagement coordinator in the Office of Ministry and Missions, the aim was to set a spiritual tone for freshmen as they began their Southern experience.

“We were called Southern Missionary College back in the day,” Devlin said. “So, we continue to exemplify what our school is all about and truly live the mission, which is to reflect Christ and to go out into the community and serve those who are in need.”

Freshmen ServiceSouthern partnered with 21 local organizations on a wide variety of projects, including cleaning animal stalls, packing blessing bags for those in need, constructing garden spaces, and much more.

Mandy Velez, freshman nursing major, helped build beds for underprivileged children and appreciated the experience, saying, “It makes you feel like you’re part of something, even if it’s something small.”

Devlin was blessed by the positive feedback from participants and is glad to be part of organizing this meaningful event.

“We want the freshmen to be reflecting on that experience,” Devlin said. “Our hope is that they will see the joy of giving their time and their talents to honor the Lord.”

-Amanda Blake, sophomore journalism major

I’m so sorry Carlos, it doesn’t look like we’ll be able to keep you at Southern. We will be there tonight to pick you up.”

Carlos Torres froze at his mom’s words. He had spent the last four weeks attending Southern’s SmartStart, working hard, making new friends, enjoying the beautiful campus, and looking forward to the fall semester. This couldn’t be happening! As he stood holding his phone in shock, Torres thought back to the first time he had visited Southern with his family. He was only seven years old, but he knew that one day he wanted to study here.

Inspired by that memory, Torres wasn’t ready to give up. Seeking help from his enrollment counselor, Stahl Comete, ’16, he explained that he didn’t have all the funds needed to register. Comete assured Torres that he would do everything he could to help. As Torres sat nervously in the Admissions office, texting goodbye messages to his friends, he silently pleaded with God.

“Lord, I know you’ve done miracles for other people,” he prayed. “This would be a really good time to do one for me.”

TorresTime was running out. Torres’ parents would soon arrive at Southern to pick him up, and still there was no resolution. With a heavy heart, he left the office fearing the worst. As he packed up his belongings and his broken dreams, his phone rang. He quickly answered the call and heard the words he had been longing for: “We found you a scholarship.”

Alumni and friends make scholarships possible for Southern students like Torres every day.  These stories are a testament to God’s faithfulness and the generosity of our Southern family.

For Torres, a freshman marketing and psychology double major, this scholarship means so much. Because of your gifts, he is at Southern today, fulfilling his dream and living out God’s calling.

“This scholarship has been life-changing for me,” he says with a smile. “Thank you, with all my heart.”

To help support students’ goals for obtaining a quality, Christian education at Southern, give here

-Staff Writer

Upcoming Events
Presidential Inauguration
September 30 – Join us virtually as Southern celebrates Ken Shaw, ’80, EdD, as the new university president! View the ceremony via live stream at 11 a.m., including a processional of alumni representatives from the last eight decades who will march in affirmation of continued loyalty and support of their alma mater.

Adult Degree Completion Open House
October 7 – Have you earned some college credits but not a four-year degree? Southern is providing an opportunity for you to fulfill lifelong goals and improve career opportunities. Learn more about the new Adult Degree Completion program during an in-person open house on Thursday, October 7, from 6-7 p.m. For more information and to RSVP, visit

School of Music Performances: Fall semester calendar and live streaming links
October 2 – Evensong: HymnSing, 7 p.m.
October 3 – Southern Symphony Orchestra, 7:30 p.m.
October 9 – Evensong: Janelle Glass, ’17, violin
October 10 – Southern Wind Symphony, 7:30 p.m.

Florence Oliver Anderson Lecture Series
October 19 – Nursing alumni and friends are invited to a virtual presentation by David Levy, MD, “Is Life Supposed to be This Difficult?” The cost for Southern alumni and guests is $30 per person. Continuing education units are available on request. To register, obtain the program link, or get more information, click here.

Homecoming Weekend
October 28-31 – view updates and register at
October 31 – Alumni Golf Tournament: view updates and register at


When you use AmazonSmile, you can also support Southern students. It provides the same products, prices, and shopping features as 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!  

amazon smile

                                                                            gfh   gh