In 1892—130 years ago this month—George Colcord and his wife, Ada, opened a small school in Graysville, Tennessee, with 23 students enrolled the first year. Since that opening day in February, Southern has faced many challenges, including fire, diseases, the Great Depression, and world wars. Yet through God’s leading and thanks to the determination of men and women of faith, Southern Adventist University continues strong in its mission today with approximately 2,700 current students and more than 40,000 individuals who have attended the institution during this time.

1892 DayOn Thursday, February 17, following Student Association election speeches at convocation, President Ken Shaw, ’80, and the Alumni Relations team celebrated this milestone with students by passing out cupcakes to mark Southern’s founding month. Click here to view photos of the event.

Click here to learn more about Southern’s history or read A Century of Challenge, by Dennis Pettibone, professor emeritus of history.

-Ashley Fox, ’15, assistant director of Alumni Relations

During the Fall 2020 semester, Southern’s Alumni Association leadership and the School of Business developed a partnership for piloting a new alumni-student mentoring program. Seven business alumni applied that August for the opportunity to mentor eight business students over a four to six-week period.

Designed and implemented by Moses Maier, ’17 finance management alumnus and past president of the Alumni Association, and Michelle Doucoumes, ’05 and ’11, assistant business professor, the program launched successfully and was continued in Fall 2021 with nine alumni mentoring nine business students.

“Our vision with this program was to establish a way for current students to learn about their fields of interest from alumni who have experience in those fields,” Maier said. “Mentorship can help students develop their career path, build a professional network, improve important life skills, and encourage their spiritual growth. These are just a few ways mentorship can have a lasting and invaluable impact on the life of a student.”

Collin Petty, ’11 and ’14, is a business management alum who has participated in the program as a mentor.

“My mentee, Andrew, and I went over interviewing skills, common strategies and questions, and a couple of mock interviews before working together on brushing up his résumé for a summer internship,” Petty said. “I’m reaching out to my professional network to see what I might be able to turn up as a lead for him to follow up with.”

Alumni MentorsPetty values the opportunities provided to alumni for mentoring students.

“I’ve enjoyed meeting with Andrew and it has been a blessing to be able to share some experiences I’ve had, and to hear about his ideas and goals for the future. It gives me great hope to know that God continues to utilize the people of my alma mater to prepare the next generation for the joy of service.”

Student participants in the program, such as Alyson Zapara, senior business major, have also expressed appreciation for their experiences with alumni mentors.

“I gained new insight about how to view and decide on my future career,” Zapara said. My mentor challenged my thoughts about a career, and I always left our meetings feeling encouraged and validated to move forward in a way that is outside of the box. He provided excellent ideas to help me with personal projects and professional struggles. He is passionate about personal growth, psychology, mindsets, and helping others, and I greatly appreciated his time and help.”

The School of Business mentorship program will continue to grow and evolve to ensure meaningful experiences for students in this field. It also may serve as a model for other academic departments on campus that are interested in hosting alumni-student mentoring activities.

Alumni interested in mentoring students in the future may register here or email Alumni Relations.

-Evonne Crook, ’79, director of Alumni Relations

This year, Southern expanded a tradition it began in 1993, moving from one day of service honoring the memory of Martin Luther King Jr. on MLK Day to spending the entire weekend serving the community. Southern students and employees helped at assisted living facilities, schools, animal shelters, and much more. In fact, approximately 900 volunteers participated in more than 60 service projects over four days.

“We are so excited to serve the surrounding area in this way and to expand on a tradition that has had a big impact over the years,” said Melissa Moore, ’09 and ’13, director of Humanitarian Engagement at Southern. “Martin Luther King Jr. is an inspiration in countless ways, and it is a privilege to honor him as we turn our words into actions.”

One project involved collecting and distributing groceries for those facing food insecurity in the area around Southern. As an ongoing partnership between Southern and the Chattanooga Food Bank, community members in need are invited to campus twice a month to receive groceries. Over the MLK weekend, volunteers gathered more than 6,000 food items from community members, packed bags of groceries, and distributed them to those in need at a drive-through location on campus. 

MLK Day Service“The most impactful part for me was talking to the people who came for groceries,” said Bailey Krall, senior music major, who helped coordinate the project. “Several of them opened up about their challenges, such as job loss, health problems, and debilitating accidents. Everyone was so gracious, and their kindness left an impression on me. This experience helped me recognize our shared humanity.”

This weekend of service aligns with Southern’s ongoing mission of helping students form a lifelong habit of serving others and engaging with their community.

“It is my great desire for Southern students to know without a doubt that they are uniquely called to serve,” Moore said. “It is the privilege of my office to walk alongside students in that calling. We want to create opportunities where students can get excited to continue this kind of service after they graduate.”

-Staff Writer


Three senior animation majors in Southern’s School of Visual Art and Design received the Best Undergraduate Student Film Award during the Windrider Summit & the Sundance Film Festival Experience 2022. The Windrider Summit, which was held virtually this year, is an official partner of the Sundance Institute. Christian students and leaders from around the world come together for screenings and thoughtful conversations around faith and film.

Mugi Kinoshita, Avery Kroll, and Ruth Perez were recognized for their short animated film “Knock Knock,” which they created during the 2020-2021 school year. It tells the story of two masked elementary students who communicate by knocking on the plexiglass that divides them and writing sticky notes to each other.

“It is beyond my imagination that ‘Knock Knock’ won this award,” Kinoshita said. “I’m amazed to see how God can use any talent to reach out to more people in the world.”

The film previously won “Best Animated Short,” “Best in Festival,” and “Audience Choice Award” at the 2021 Sonscreen Film Festival, an annual event for Christian filmmakers.

"Knock Knock" Animation“Here at Southern, I’ve learned how powerful a good story can be,” Kroll said. “By reflecting the situation we are all facing due to the pandemic, our story was able to connect with people in a meaningful way. Our animation professors have been extremely helpful throughout this process.” 

“We wanted to find a way to show that there can be a connection even when there are certain limitations,” Perez said. “I know the connections I’ve made here at Southern will play a major part in my future goals.”

The School of Visual Art and Design professors aim to teach their students a balance of artistic perspectives while firmly grounding them in their faith.

“Animation is a powerful medium for communication,” said Hendel Butoy, Disney veteran and the animation professor who oversaw the project. “We encourage our students and give them the opportunity to combine excellence of craft with the higher calling of uplifting others through the talents they’ve been given. ‘Knock Knock’ is an excellent example of that vision coming to fruition.”

To view “Knock Knock” and other student projects, visit

-Staff Writer

Throughout February, Southern students, employees, and alumni have shared on social media about Black individuals who inspire them, along with why Black Christian Union (BCU) is an important part of campus life. Below are excerpts about BCU from three of these posts honoring Black History Month. To view more profiles, visit Humans of Southern on Instagram or Facebook and the Southern Celebrates website.

Tahkai MartinTahkai Martin, senior psychology major and Black Christian Union president:

“Black Christian Union (BCU) is a cornerstone of our campus in terms of our three major ethnic groups. It’s given us the opportunity to really express our culture and find people who can really understand the same struggle and the same life and expectations of life that we have. BCU for me was a sort of very quick rescue. I came from public school so I only knew one person when I came to Southern. I wasn’t like the others students who came in from Adventist academies with 10 or 15 friends. BCU provided that 'in' for me; it helped me find people I could play basketball with and study with, it connected me with professors, and it helped me learn about different service opportunities.” 


Alva JohnsonAlva Johnson, assistant professor in the School of Journalism and Communication:

“I think it’s important to celebrate all cultures. Through @_bcu_ [Black Christian Union], we have an opportunity to celebrate Black culture. We also have an opportunity to share it with others who may not fully know the history. It’s important for all of us to learn from each other’s experiences because it is all a common history—it’s just different aspects of history. I consider it a great opportunity to celebrate Black culture, to share Black culture, and to preserve Black culture. We live in a time when people don’t even want to teach this type of history in the schools. Organizations like BCU play a significant role in our society and help us to remember that history is important, and context is important, and we all have a lot to offer. The more we learn about one other, the better off we will be as a society.”


Jason MerrymanJason Merryman, ’98, vice president for Enrollment Management:

“Black people come from all walks of life and different parts of the world. I myself am from the Caribbean region. Black Christian Union is important to our campus because it brings that diverse lens to people of color. While we may share similar traits and characteristics, we are all very different in how we view life. Having a group where we can learn from each other and learn to appreciate our backgrounds and different upbringings is important. I hope that’s something that continues to grow, so we can share our stories with each other. We have a lot to learn and appreciate from one another.”

-Staff Writer


It is with deep sadness that we share the passing of Mark Peach, PhD, professor in the History and Political Studies Department, who served at Southern for more than 35 years.

Peach received his bachelor’s degree from Walla Walla College, his master’s degree from Washington State University, and then his doctoral degree from the University of Chicago. He later spent 1996-1997 in Berlin, Germany, on a Fulbright Research Grant. While at Southern, a considerable portion of his time was dedicated to serving as program director of Southern Scholars, Southern’s honors program.

Mark Peach, PhD“He cared deeply about the humanities and interdisciplinary thinking, and his legacy with the Southern Scholars Honors program is one of his greatest gifts to our campus,” said Lisa Diller, '96, PhD, chair of the History and Political Studies Department. “He initiated an on campus Classic Film Series in the 1990s, was a Fulbright Scholar, and connected his love for hiking the Appalachian Trail to new classes on Environmental History and Appalachian History. We will miss his humor, gentleness, and intellectual curiosity.”

Please join us in remembering Mark Peach’s family, students, and colleagues in your prayers. Memories may be shared here. All are welcome to attend a memorial service on Sunday, March 6, at 10 a.m. in Lynn Wood Hall Chapel. Click here to view a livestream of the service.

“He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away” (Revelation 21:4).

-Staff Writer

Upcoming Events
March 11-20 – Spring Break – University offices closed for business March 17-18

(Calendar and live streaming links)

Tuesday, March 1 – “A Celebration of the Life of Dwain Glass,” Nathan Laube, guest recital, organ; Collegedale Church of Seventh-day Adventists, 7:30 p.m.

Saturday, March 5 – Evensong: organ students of Judy Glass; Collegedale Church of Seventh-day Adventists, 6 p.m.

Sunday, March 6 – Weiyi Li, senior piano recital; Ackerman Auditorium, Mabel Wood Hall, 3 p.m.

Sunday, March 6 – Symphony Orchestra–with conductor Laurie Redmer Cadwallader; Collegedale Church of Seventh-day Adventists, 7:30 p.m.

Monday, March 7 – Faculty recital by Kristen Holritz, flute, and Kaitlyn Vest, cello; Ackerman Auditorium, Mabel Wood Hall, 7:30 p.m.

Wednesday, March 9 – Cameron Wilcox, senior violin recital; Ackerman Auditorium, Mabel Wood Hall, 7:30 p.m.

Saturday, March 26 – Evensong: organ students of Judy Glass; Collegedale Church of Seventh-day Adventists, 7:30 p.m.


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