Coronavirus Update Archive

This archive documents some of the important messages that Southern has sent out to campus as the coronavirus situation evolves. While this page is not comprehensive, Southern continues to send announcements to students and employees as more information becomes available.

July 30, 2020 - Fall 2020 Housing and Meal Plan Information

July 30, 2020

Campus Family,

We are looking forward to the start of the fall semester and are excited to see our campus full of life again! I wanted to take a minute to share some changes to meal plans and rent charges for the fall semester. Due to the shortened length of on-campus instruction for the semester, we are reducing the cost of the required meal plan as well as the cost of rent for Thatcher, Thatcher South, Talge, and Southern Village. The new rates for F20 are as follows:

Housing Charges

Residence Halls:  $1,915 (reduced by $445)
Southern Village: $2,080 (reduced by $480)

Residence Hall Meal Plans

Bronze = $1,075  
Silver = $1,275 
Gold = $1,475 
Food Service Fee: $365 

Each meal plan has been reduced by $250 and the Food Service Fee has been reduced by $85.

Non-residence hall meal plans are available beginning at $250.

As always, if you have any questions or concerns please reach out to the Student Finance Office by calling 423.236.2535 or emailing We are also available for Zoom meetings. Please visit to submit an appointment request. We look forward to serving you. 

Thanks and God Bless,

Paula K. Walters

Director of Student Finance
Southern Adventist University
O 423.236.2535 |F 423.236.1894

July 22, 2020 - A ribbon is up for YOU!

July 22, 2020

Southern isn’t Southern without students! We’re excited to see you on campus. If you’ve registered, we’ve tied a ribbon for you, and if you haven’t, we will as soon as you register—and we’ll keep it up until you get here (watch the video). You can start the registration process or check your progress by visiting

See you soon!

Ribbon Video

July 21, 2020 - Fall 2020: Student Life Updates

July 21, 2020

Dear Students,
As we prepare for Fall 2020 on campus, we are excited! You are the heart of life at Southern, and we’ve missed you. As you are already aware, in order to ensure this semester is as safe as possible, we are implementing quite a few adjustments and want to make sure you know what to expect. Below are some key points from Student Development:
Process for Returning to Campus
New Students

  • Main Event (REQUIRED)
    • Arrival on campus is BY APPOINTMENT ONLY on August 14 or 16. If you do not already have an appointment, contact
    • If you need transportation to campus, contact before you leave home and reserve a ride from the airport, Groome Transportation, or bus depot.
    • The Main Event is your easy-access gateway to campus and will be in Iles P.E. Center.
    • You may have no more than two people accompany you to the Main Event. All participants will go through a quick health screening and must wear a face mask.
  • Residence Halls
    • If you will be living in one of the residence halls, please head there immediately after completing the Main Event.
    • You may have no more than two people (who have gone through the health screening) accompany you inside. All participants must wear a face mask.
    • Our team of volunteers will be on hand to help with move-in. You may have one volunteer helper, who will be in addition to your two allowed guests.
    • You will have a two-hour block of time during which your two allowed guests can help move you into a room. You may remain longer, but your guests will need to leave to allow for others to move in.
  • Orientation (REQUIRED)
    • From August 17-21, we have a special line-up of activities scheduled to help you learn about the free resources available to you, give you a taste of campus culture, introduce you to a few new friends, and much more.

Returning Students Living in Residence Halls

  • Moving into Talge Hall, Thatcher Hall, and Thatcher South will be BY APPOINTMENT ONLY Tuesday, August 18, through Sunday, August 23 (no check-ins will be available during the Sabbath hours). To schedule an appointment before July 31, log in to and click “Move-In Appointment,” then choose your time.
  • You may have no more than two people accompany you inside. All participants will go through a quick health screening and must wear a face mask.
  • Those moving into Talge Hall, Thatcher Hall, and Thatcher South will have a two-hour block of time during which your two allowed guests can help move you into a room. You may remain longer, but your guests will need to leave to allow for others to move in.
  • If you need transportation to campus, contact

Changes to Enrichment Credits and Convocations
All Thursday convocations have been canceled for the Fall 2020 semester and the number of required enrichment credits has been reduced to reflect this change (more details available here). In place of convocations, we will host a series of voluntary Critical Conversations on topics such as mental wellness, race, and COVID-19 preparedness. These will be held in Thatcher Hall Chapel during the 11 a.m. Thursday time slot, and attendees will earn enrichment credit.
Safety Precautions
It will take everyone on campus working together to keep campus safe this fall. If you haven’t yet seen it, please watch this short video outlining some of the precautions we are taking. You can find more at
Quarantine Plan
Our goal is to keep everyone healthy and coronavirus-free this fall! However, we realize that given the current pandemic, there is potential for some in our campus community to become infected with COVID-19. If that happens, we are prepared to offer the care and support that is needed. Here are a few highlights from our quarantine/isolation plan; you can read the full plan here.

  • If you have any potential cold, flu, or COVID-19 symptoms, DO NOT GO TO CLASS OR WORK. Call the University Health Center at 423.236.2713 for assessment and directions specific to your case. The University Health Center will be offering free COVID-19 testing for all students and employees when needed.
  • A section of each residence hall has been set aside for quarantine, which is where someone who has had close contact with an infected individual or who is waiting on test results will stay.
  • Anyone who tests positive will be transferred to isolation in the Upper Stateside Apartments. His or her roommate/housemates will automatically be quarantined. The University Health Center will work with the infected student and the local health department to identify anyone with whom the student may have had close contact.
  • Everyone in both quarantine and isolation will have meals delivered and receive regular medical visits. The Chaplain’s Office, Counseling Services, and Residential Life will also provide support via Zoom and other virtual platforms.
  • Because of HIPAA regulations, students in quarantine and isolation will be responsible for contacting their professors to receive accommodation while they are unable to attend classes.
  • Anyone traveling from outside of the country will need to quarantine for two weeks before entering routine life on campus. International students should contact Arleny Weddle ( with any questions. Residents of the United States who travel internationally should contact the University Health Center (423.236.2713) for instructions.

Individuals at Higher-Risk
We care about our students, so if you plan to attend classes on campus during the Fall 2020 semester and the CDC guidelines indicate that you may be at higher risk for serious complications from COVID-19, please communicate with your professors and housing dean as soon as possible to see what accommodations might be made.
Stay Informed
This is a fluid situation, so I encourage you to continue frequently checking your Southern email account, which is the official method for university communications. Additionally, you can find much of this information and other updates at, the Communication Archive, and the Student FAQ.
We’re here for you, so if you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact my office, 423.236.2814 or Looking forward to seeing you soon!
Dennis Negrón
Vice President for Student Development

Safety Video

July 13, 2020 - Fall 2020: Updated Procedures for Residence Halls

July 13, 2020

Dear Students, 

We miss you! In fact, we’re counting down the days until you’ll be back on campus. All across campus, we’re preparing for the Fall 2020 semester, and we’re excited that it’s going to be a good one! As you know, we are making some adjustments to help make Southern as safe as possible in the midst of the pandemic. Here are some important points regarding Residence Life:

  • New Move-In Procedures for Returning Students
    • Moving into Talge Hall, Thatcher Hall, and Thatcher South will be BY APPOINTMENT ONLY Tuesday, August 18, through Sunday, August 23 (no check-ins will be available during the Sabbath hours). To schedule an appointment before July 31, log in to and click “Move-In Appointment,” then choose your time.
  • Additional Move-in Procedures for All Residence Hall Students
    • You may have no more than two people accompany you inside. All participants will go through a quick health screening and must wear a face covering.
    • Those moving into Talge Hall, Thatcher Hall, and Thatcher South will have a two-hour block of time during which your two allowed guests can help move you into a room. You may remain longer, but your guests will need to leave to allow for others to move in. For new students, this window of time follows your completion of the Main Event.
  • Intensive Cleaning
    • Needlepoint bipolar ionization air filtration units have been installed in each residence hall room and in common areas. This will not only help us in the fight against the coronavirus but will also reduce allergens, mold, and unpleasant odors. For more details about this technology, you can read this news story.
    • The common areas of the residence halls will be thoroughly cleaned twice a day and disinfected with electrostatic sprayers multiple times per day.
    • High-touch surfaces will be disinfected with an EPA approved disinfectant multiple times per day.
    • Community bathrooms will be cleaned twice a day, with high-touch areas being disinfected multiple times a day.
    • Cleaning staff will wear personal protective equipment during the cleaning process and handling of trash.
    • To help reduce potential transmission of the coronavirus, we encourage all residents to be diligent in keeping their rooms clean.
  • Restricted Access to Residence Halls
    • Outside guests will not be allowed to come inside the residence halls.
    • Students will enter and exit through the residence hall front doors, swiping in with their ID cards.
    • Residents of Talge Hall, Thatcher Hall, Thatcher South, and Southern Village will be allowed inside each other’s building, but the number of occupants will be monitored.
  • Common Areas in the Residence Halls
    • We are installing plexiglass around front desk areas.
    • The number of students in the main lobbies will be limited.
    • Masks will be required in common areas; while students are in their own rooms, it will be optional.
    • In order to maintain social distancing, seating in the chapels will be marked to indicate where people can sit.
    • The exercise rooms in each residence hall will be rearranged based on the CDC’s guidelines. The number of individuals allowed to work out at one time will be reduced, and equipment will be disinfected after each use.
  • Personal Hygiene
    • Cleanliness is an important component of reducing infection, so we have posted signs with tips and reminders about good hygiene, washing hands frequently, etc.
    • Hand sanitizer stations will be available in each lobby.
  • Protocol for Sickness
    • All students, employees, and campus visitors will be required to participate in a quick health check each day, which involves completing a short online form and having your temperature taken. There will be multiple temperature check stations across campus, and as individuals complete the health screening, they will receive a color-coded wristband indicating that they are cleared to enter campus buildings for the day. As a convenience to students, screening stations will be set up in the main lobbies of the residence halls in the late evenings, giving students the option to be cleared for the following day.
    • If you have any potential cold, flu, or COVID-19 symptoms, DO NOT GO TO CLASS OR WORK. Call the University Health Center at 423.236.2713 for assessment and direction specific to your case.
    • In each residence hall, we will have a designated quarantine hall where students will stay if they have been exposed to someone with COVID-19 or have symptoms and are waiting on their test results. Students who test positive for COVID-19 will stay in a designated isolation area in the Upper Stateside apartments. More details will be sent out soon.
  • Curfews and Overnight Leaves
    • Curfews will remain unchanged. Likewise, overnight leaves will follow the same policies as in previous years.
  • Transportation
    • Residence halls will no longer be providing transportation. Instead, we encourage you to plan ahead and contact Southern’s Transportation Department at
  • Thanksgiving Break
    • While in-person instruction ends at Thanksgiving Break and you will need to leave campus by November 22, you will NOT need to move your things out of your room unless you do not plan to return for the second semester.

We will continue to monitor the situation and work closely with local authorities, making adjustments to protocols and procedures as needed, so please continue to check your Southern email account regularly. In case you’ve missed any important messages relating to the current circumstances, visit, the Communication Archive, and the Student FAQ. For an overview of the top safety precautions for this semester, visit

If you have any questions, please reach out to (Southern Village residents can contact

Together with you, we anticipate making this an unforgettable year!

Lisa Hall
Dean of Students and Director of Residential Life

July 1, 2020 - Fall 2020: Academic Calendar and Graduation Update

July 1, 2020

In our eagerness to have all of the campus family back together safely, Southern Adventist University’s administration continues to study and make adjustments with your well-being in mind. We look forward to providing the academic quality and learning opportunities that we know you expect, and to that end, I’m pleased to share the following changes to the Fall 2020 academic schedule. This should be helpful as you make plans for the coming months.

Fall 2020 Academic Calendar

  • In-person instruction will last from August 24 until Thanksgiving break. Students will leave campus for the break (November 23-29), and then remote learning will continue for two weeks after the break.Fall 2020 Adjusted Calendar
  • The two-day mid-term break that typically occurs in October will be eliminated this year to lessen travel away from the local area and to accommodate the necessary instruction time.
  • The traditional schedule for exams will be removed; however, this does not mean that exams are eliminated. Professors may choose to offer a face-to-face exam during regularly scheduled class time before Thanksgiving break or an online exam after the break.

December Graduation

  • An in-person commencement ceremony will be held on campus on Sunday, December 13. Safety precautions will be in place for all who choose to attend. Graduates will also have the option to participate in the May 2021 ceremony OR in a virtual graduation ceremony, if they choose.
  • Graduates who are unable to leave campus for the break and return for the December graduation may receive an exception to stay on campus from Thanksgiving Break through graduation weekend.

Please direct any undergraduate questions to Dionne Felix at and graduate questions to Tyson Hall at

All of us here at Southern are looking forward to a great semester and to seeing you back on campus soon!

David Smith, president
Southern Adventist University

June 15, 2020 - Fall 2020 Safety Precautions

June 15, 2020

Dear Students,

While the COVID-19 pandemic has changed many things, something it hasn’t changed is how much we care about you. Our students are the heart of Southern Adventist University, and we can’t wait to have you on campus this fall. 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!

We do need to address some of the things that will be different for the Fall 2020 semester. Because of the coronavirus, we are implementing new safety features and policies aimed at providing protection for students and employees alike. Through it all, our goal is still to offer a positive, Christ-centered experience as we face uncharted territory together.

Here are the top 10 ways we are working to make Southern safer this fall:

1. Enhanced Air Filtration
Because the coronavirus can spread through the air, we have taken the special precaution of installing high-tech filtration systems in all buildings on campus. These needlepoint bipolar ionization systems provide hospital-level air filtration in all classrooms, offices, meeting areas, and residence halls. It works by emitting charged ions that bind to airborne particles and remove pathogens such as the coronavirus from the air.

2. Electrostatic Cleaning
In addition to increasing their cleaning frequency, our 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. 

3. Daily Screening
All employees and students will be required to participate in daily temperature checks and symptom surveys to help quickly identify individuals who may be infected.

4. Masks
To help protect others from infection, employees will be wearing face coverings in most indoor spaces where close interactions occur. Students will be provided with two washable face masks and will be encouraged to wear one whenever social distancing is not possible. In certain campus spaces, such as classrooms, face coverings will be required.

5. Revised Calendar
Subject to approval by Southern’s Board of Trustees, we will adjust the Fall 2020 semester schedule. We would eliminate the mid-term break and end in-person instruction at Thanksgiving break, followed by two weeks of distance coursework through various methods to complete the semester on December 11. This plan reduces travel to and from campus and sends students home during the predicted increase of COVID-19 cases. We will communicate about the final academic calendar as soon as possible. 

6. Classroom Capacity
To allow for safer in-person instruction, classroom capacity has been decreased by 50%, putting more space between students while still benefiting from face-to-face interaction. 

7. Hand Sanitizer
Good hand hygiene is critical in reducing the spread of disease, so we are increasing the number of hand-sanitizing stations available throughout campus.

8. Plexiglas
To further reduce possible transmission, Plexiglas barriers are being installed at key interaction points such as reception desks and cash registers.

9. Adjusted Social Activities
Social activities are an important part of campus life, so we will continue to find ways to get together for fun, learning, and worship. However, we will make some adjustments for increased safety, such as holding larger gatherings in a big, open-air tent and canceling convocations.

10. Streamlined Food Service
Pandemic or not, everyone needs to eat! Southern’s Food Service personnel are always committed to exceptional food safety. Additionally, the team has restructured food delivery methods to minimize wait times, eliminate self-service buffets, offer online payment, and provide more grab-and-go options.

The most important factor of our multi-pronged approach to safety is you. These efforts require the cooperation of every employee and student to ensure the safety of our campus. As Christians, God calls us to demonstrate a level of love for each other that is impossible through human effort alone, one that puts others above our own desires and interests. As a campus, we are committed to living out that kind of love, and one way we can do that is by taking these safety precautions to heart and protecting each other through our actions. We’re all in this together! 

We know that when you choose to attend Southern, you’re putting your trust in our hands, and that’s a responsibility we take very seriously. These 10 points have been developed in collaboration with the University Health Center to meet or exceed state and Center for Disease Control health guidelines for higher education. They are only part of our overall efforts, which you will be hearing more about over the next weeks and months.

If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to reach out to or 423.236.2801.

We look forward to seeing you at Southern soon!

God bless,
David Smith

June 3, 2020 - Employee Return to Work Plan

June 3, 2020

We are happy to announce the following plan for Southern Adventist University employees who are working from home to transition back into the workplace. This plan has been created with the utmost concern for the safety of employees, students, and others who interact with us.

The transition process will involve a staggered, three-phase reentry plan on the dates of June 15, June 29, and July 13. Work supervisors will recommend to their vice president those employees who should return to work on campus for each of the three phases. In response to the work supervisors’ recommendations, the vice presidents will make the final decisions regarding who will return to work in each phase.

Once the vice presidents make these decisions and communicate them to their work supervisors, the work supervisors will notify employees of their reentry date. All employees who are not currently working on campus are to continue working at home until notified by their work supervisor of their on-campus transition date.

We will continue to be flexible with implementing the following plan as circumstances change or new information becomes available. It is possible that more employees will be transitioned back into the workplace in the later phases of the plan.

Factors that will help determine employee reentry dates
Work supervisors and vice presidents will consider the following when determining who may return to work in each phase:

  1. The safety and functionality of the work space—private offices versus open work areas with cubicles and public use areas.
  2. The existing or needed preparation by Plant Service, Service Department, and University Health Service to protect work spaces, such as: signs installed for traffic flow, Plexiglas barriers for public reception areas, current and ongoing plan for cleaning and disinfecting of work areas, personal protection equipment availability, daily symptom check process, etc.
  3. The degree the employee provides an essential role in relation to starting school on August 24.
  4. Implementing a numerically staggered workplace transition, bringing back only 30 to 40% of shelter-in-place employees for each reentry phase: June 15, June 29, and July 13.
  5. Employees who can continue to be effectively productive working at home may continue to do so if agreed to by work supervisors and vice presidents. Some work functions may remain virtual.
  6. Employees who are in a COVID-19 high risk category according to age, medical condition, or unique family circumstances (e.g. caring for an elderly parent in the home) may request an exception. Each employee’s personal situation will be addressed by their work supervisor and vice president. Administration may not be able to accommodate every request or circumstance.

Expectations of employees upon returning to work on campus
Beginning June 15, all employees must meet certain expectations at the time that they reenter the workplace. This includes employees who have been working in the workplace prior to June 15.

While we recognize that there are many ways to view the current COVID-19 pandemic, we also recognize our responsibility as a university to provide as safe an environment as possible for our students and employees by following the best guidance available. It will take all of us working together in a united way to accomplish this. The following guidelines, policies, and processes are based on recommendations from a variety of official organizations. Out of an abundance of caution and in an effort to meet the expectations of parents, students, health officials, and others, we are asking employees, regardless of their personal opinions and political viewpoints, to support all university strategies related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Support of these policies and strategies is a condition of employment and noncompliance may jeopardize a person’s employment status.

Here are the expected employee behaviors:

  1. Follow all guidelines provided by Human Resources and the University Health Center.
  2. Receive and implement COVID-19 training provided by the University Health Center.
  3. Wear a mask in all public spaces and in office spaces where multiple people work. The university will provide employees with an initial supply of masks. These masks will be available in the Campus Shop. Specifically while faculty are teaching in the classroom, there may be other official safety measures that will be permitted rather than wearing a mask (that exact equipment or approach is yet to be determined).
  4. Maintain social distancing at all times (minimum six feet).
  5. As much as possible, continue to meet virtually for committee or department meetings, even when all employees are back on campus.
  6. Avoid office gatherings in hallways and break rooms and avoid unnecessary visitors in the workplace.
  7. Participate in daily temperature checks and symptom screening.
  8. When an employee is feeling ill, report any suspected COVID-19 symptoms to the University Health Center. If an employee is sick, HE OR SHE SHOULD NOT COME TO WORK.
  9. If prescribed by the University Health Center or the state and county health departments, employees should quarantine or isolate for the recommended time period and cooperate with contact tracing.

Employees will not be subject to COVID-19 testing prior to returning to work on campus. We will be pursuing aggressive testing of employees and students who, once they are on campus, exhibit COVID-19 symptoms. Pretesting, however, is not a requirement.

Implementation of safety measures in facilities across campus
For the campus to be as safe as possible in the current environment, the following actions will be applied in each building where employees work. The Service Department, Plant Services, and University Health Services will oversee the following strategies along with training employees on how to maintain good sanitation and cleaning practices in their work areas. The Service Department will order all cleaning and sanitizing supplies. Work supervisors should inform the Service Department of the cleaning and sanitation supplies employees need in their work areas.

  1. Provide hand sanitizer stations at all entrances to buildings and restrooms.
  2. Provide signage throughout campus for good handwashing, mask use, proper cough/sneeze etiquette, and physical distancing.
  3. Provide all employees access to sanitizing supplies for their own workspace.
  4. Install Plexiglas barriers where close contact is unavoidable and at frequently visited areas—front desk, cashier, ID card desk, Dining Hall serving bars, and other check in points.
  5. Minimize use of all items that are frequently touched—clipboards, pens, magazines, etc. If items are necessary, clean frequently between customers.
  6. Provide signage for the best traffic flow within each building.
  7. Map classrooms and large meeting areas for appropriate distancing.
  8. Monitor and maintain personal protection equipment (PPE), hand sanitizer, hand soap, cleaning products and sanitizing wipes.
  9. Enhance education for those cleaning and provide appropriate PPE.

May 10, 2020 - Announcing New Graduation Date

May 10, 2020

Dear Class of 2020,

I am excited to announce that commencement exercises for Spring and Summer 2020 graduates will be held Sunday, August 9, 2020. We know each of you have worked hard to accomplish much in your time here at Southern. We hope you will be able to attend this special graduation event with your loved ones to recognize and celebrate your achievements. 

While we don’t yet have the complete schedule for that day, we expect activities to be held in the Iles P.E. Center. Keep checking your Southern email account for more details, including plans for maintaining safety for all attendees.
Once again, congratulations, and we can’t wait to honor you on August 9!
God bless,
David Smith

May 4, 2020 - Fall 2020 Update

May 4, 2020

Dear Students,

We miss you! Which is why I am so happy to announce that we will have classes open on campus for the Fall 2020 semester. Your safety will remain a top priority while we stay fully dedicated to providing you with a quality, Christ-centered education in an Adventist environment. 

We will continue to offer courses online through the summer, and we have formed a special task force to explore and evaluate what the new semester will look like, including any special precautions that will be necessary to maintain everyone’s safety. We will share more details in the coming weeks. Please continue to regularly check your Southern email account as well as visiting and our COVID-19 FAQ.

I am proud of each of you for completing this unusual semester. Now more than ever, we recognize the necessity of preparing the next generation of leaders and thinkers. God has a plan for each of you, and Southern is here to help you reach your full potential. We will continue to keep you in prayer and eagerly anticipate your return to campus this fall!

God bless,

David Smith

April 27, 2020 - Video Message From the President

April 27, 2020

The following video is a home-recorded message from Southern Adventist University president, David Smith, to the Southern community.

Message from David Smith

April 22, 2020 - Update Regarding Winter 2020 Grading Policy (Pass/Fail)

April 22, 2020

Dear Students,

Thank you for continuing to meet the challenges of this semester. Please know that we continue to lift you up in prayer, relying on God’s faithfulness amidst so many challenges.

In recognition of the significant disruptions caused by both the pandemic and the recent tornado, Academic Administration has adjusted the grading policy for undergraduate students this semester to include a Pass/Fail option, which students will be able to choose on a class-by-class basis. This decision was made after further discussion with student leaders, Deans and Chairs, and University Senate.

Here is a summary of how the Pass/Fail policy will be implemented:

  1. At the end of the semester, faculty will calculate, assign, and submit letter grades through the normal online submission processes.
  2. Undergraduate students will review their final semester letter grades and, if desired, access an online form (available by May 18) on the Records and Advisement website,, to elect which classes they want converted to Pass/Fail grades. We strongly encourage students to speak with their academic advisers regarding this decision before electing this option, as it may affect placement in certain graduate and professional programs.
  3. The Records office (not individual faculty members) will then convert students’ selected letter grades to “P” or “F” grades based on the policy and any approved exceptions.
    Students have until May 22, 2020, to make this choice, and once an election has been made, students may not reverse their decision.
  4. A note will be added to all students’ transcripts indicating the semester was disrupted by a global pandemic.

Here are some important points for you to know:

  • This policy is effective only for the Winter 2020 semester. It is not a precedent for future, “normal” semesters.
  • Grading Standards: This does not lower Southern’s grading standards. The policy provides for a moving “pass” level based on the type of class being converted to P/F. For example, a “C-“ or better qualifies for a “P” grade in most major or minor classes; whereas, a “D-“ or better qualifies for a “P” grade in general education and elective classes, in keeping with our current academic policies.
  • Financial Aid: Under normal circumstances, students’ GPA is used in the determination of their Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP). However, we have received guidance that this semester accommodations will be made so that financial aid is not negatively impacted by a student’s election of P/F grades for one or more classes. However, if students have specific questions or concerns about the impact this decision will have on their scholarships or financial aid, they should contact their Student Finance counselor (
  • Potential Implications for Applying to Graduate and Professional Programs: Students planning to attend graduate or professional schools (either now or in the future) need to carefully consider the potential effects of selecting the P/F option. Many graduate and professional schools are making accommodations for students regarding this semester, but accommodations vary by institution. Some institutions may accept a “P” grade but will then use a more wholistic approach to determine admission eligibility. 
  • Incomplete/In-Progress Grades: For classes in which students receive I/IP grades, they will be able to elect the P/F grading option at the same time as their other classes, by the May 22 deadline. If students wish to defer their election for I/IP classes until a letter grade is finalized, they will be able to do so through an academic petition filed when the incomplete work is finished.

For more information, including the official policy and the form to request Pass/Fail grading, visit

Please remember, you are not in this alone! The faculty and staff at Southern are here for you, working diligently to support you and your success. Additionally, as you stretch to reach the end of this semester, we encourage you to “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or discouraged…[for] with us is the Lord our God to help us and to fight our battles” (2 Chronicles 32:7-8).  

David Smith, President
Dionne Felix, Associate Vice President for Academic Administration
Tyson Hall, Graduate Dean

April 15, 2020 - Video Message From the President

April 15, 2020

The following video is a home-recorded message from Southern Adventist University president, David Smith, to the Southern community.

Message from David Smith

April 14, 2020 - Message from the President with Financial Help for Southern Students

April 14, 2020

Dear Southern students,

These are challenging times for everyone, and we know that for some of you, finances have become an overwhelming source of stress and concern. We are aware that for many, the pandemic has led to job loss, unplanned travel expenses, and unexpected costs for food, housing, childcare, and access to online courses.

Because we care about each of you, I’m excited to let you know that Southern is pursuing two different ways for students who are experiencing financial hardship due to the pandemic to receive financial help:

1) With support from our alumni and donors, we have set up the COVID-19 Student Relief Fund, which demonstrates the strong support network within the Southern family.

2) Additionally, Southern has qualified to receive special funding through the U.S. Department of Education to help students impacted by the pandemic.

As we fundraise for the support fund and finalize the details for both initiatives, we will keep you updated with more information, including how to apply.

In the meantime, you can be preparing to get the most out of these opportunities. The application process will include providing documentation showing how you have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, which you can start gathering now. Our Student Finance team is looking forward to working with you to get you the assistance you need.

We miss every one of you and can’t wait until we can be together again as a campus family!

God bless,

David Smith

April 9, 2020 - Academics Update

April 9, 2020

Dear Southern Adventist University Students,

We miss you! Campus is eerily quiet with most students having returned home and employees largely working remotely, as well. Given the significant disruptions that we have all experienced, many of you are understandably anxious about completing the semester well. Please know that we hear you and are here to help you successfully complete this semester!

Please Check Your Email Regularly
During times of change and uncertainty, communication is extremely important. From university-wide statements to class announcements and offers of support and encouragement, we are using your Southern email addresses as the primary means of sending you information and reaching out to you for feedback. Please check your Southern email address at least daily and respond to requests for feedback in a timely manner.

Communicate Early if Challenges Arise
If you are facing challenging situations and unexpected obstacles this semester, please communicate with your professors and advisor. We care for you and want to hear from you! When unexpected circumstances occur, faculty are best able to make accommodations for students during the semester. Waiting until the end of semester or even after grades are turned in to ask for accommodations is too late. Now is the time to discuss your circumstances with your professors and seek the most successful path forward with them.

We have heard from many of you through direct communication and through careful review of the student petition found on We do understand that moving all instruction online, for some of you, may increase the “complexity and difficulty of the curriculum.” While all student support areas including tutoring, counseling, and other services are still available through Zoom meetings, this too may be less effective for some of you. It was also clear that one of the areas that has created anxiety for many of you is your GPA and the concern that the midterm shift to online delivery of courses and your changed learning environment will result in grades this semester that are lower than what you normally would have achieved.

Not Moving to Pass/Fail Option
As the petition suggested, some colleges and universities are addressing students’ GPA concerns by expanded use of Pass/Fail and Pass/No-Pass grading options, the implementation of which varies widely. Academic Administration and the Deans and Chairs Advisory committee have spent time considering this option, and we have decided not to use this particular strategy, because there are a number of potential downsides to students including:

  • Pass/Fail grades may have a negative effect on student admission to graduate school, professional schools (such as medical, dental, and law schools), and professional licensure;
  • a Pass grade has no impact on a student’s GPA, while a Fail grade has the full effect of a regular F grade on their GPA, so students who are currently on academic probation or dismissal will not have an ability to raise their GPA to regain good academic standing;
  • once a grade has been converted to Pass/Fail, it cannot be converted back to a letter grade in the future even if a student determines that the original letter grade is needed; and
  • a change such as this has the potential to negatively interact with programmatic and institutional accreditations.

Other institution-wide policy changes such as fractional credits (awarding mid-term grades as final grades and reducing course credit hours proportionally) have also been discussed in the wider higher education arena; however, most of these across-the-board changes have significant negative consequences to students such as delaying the completion of degree requirements for all graduating seniors and thus delaying the graduation date of all seniors. Inevitably, these approaches will benefit some students, while disadvantaging others.

Flexibility and Accommodation
Recognizing the negative effects of institution-wide policy changes, we are instead diligently working with academic schools, departments, and faculty members to find appropriate and meaningful accommodations for students that fit each discipline and student situation. Students affected by temporary policy changes at the school or department level will receive communication directly from their school or department.

At the individual student level, we are encouraging each faculty member, in consultation with their school dean or department chair, to make accommodations that best fit their students and courses. Here are a few examples of our expectations:

  • Professors are being encouraged to be flexible as they adapt their classroom policies to our new online context, recognizing that students are now located in different time zones around the world and are facing varying challenges and environments.
  • We anticipate that Incomplete grades will be more widely used when students’ specific circumstances make completing their coursework by the end of the semester impractical. While Incomplete grades can be helpful in the short term, they can be difficult for students to complete outside of the regular semester when new courses and responsibilities demand students’ attention. If you believe an Incomplete grade is appropriate for you in a particular class, please discuss your circumstances with your professor and ensure that this is the best option for you. Also, please keep in mind that Incomplete grades are temporary grades. Any incomplete which is not removed by the end of the following term (December 2020) will expire and automatically convert to an F grade. A student may petition for an incomplete grade to extend up to one year. After a year a grade must be issued. If you receive an incomplete grade, we urge you to complete all outstanding assignments as soon as you can.
  • As professors compute final semester grades, they are going to proactively look for significant irregularities in their course grade distributions when compared to grades in previous semesters. Although we do not anticipate wide-scale discrepancies on final course grades, professors will monitor this data and will take appropriate action if needed.

This approach gives professors the flexibility to meet each student’s specific needs without disadvantaging other students whose needs and circumstances are different. The academic leadership team believes this approach will yield a more favorable long-term outcome for you than other across-the-board options would. 

Extended Deadlines
In addition to these approaches, the university has extended the deadline to receive a 40% tuition refund for a full withdrawal to April 13 and the last day to drop an individual class and receive a “W” to April 30. These extended deadlines will give you an opportunity to experience the change to online delivery and decide whether or not you want to continue in one or more classes. Most colleges and universities, including Southern, will annotate students’ academic transcripts for the winter 2020 semester to indicate that the grades may have been affected by the disruption of the semester by COVID-19.

If a situation arises in a class that you believe has disadvantaged you, be assured that the university’s academic grievance process is still available to you. If you have a concern about something within a specific course, your first step is always to discuss your concern directly with your professor. If you are not satisfied with the resolution achieved with your professor, you may appeal to the appropriate school dean or department chair. Finally, if you are not satisfied with the resolution achieved with the school dean or department chair, undergraduate students can appeal to Dr. Dionne Felix, Associate Vice President for Academic Administration, via email at, and graduate students can appeal to Dr. Tyson Hall, Graduate Dean, via email at

In our combined years of higher education experience, across nine institutions, we have never seen a semester like this, and the unique challenges students and faculty are facing demand unique solutions. Thank you for your patience and adaptability as the university transitioned to an online learning environment. Please know that administrators, faculty, and staff are working together to help you complete this semester successfully. We urge you to continue communicating with us so we can more effectively support you during this time of change.

Dr. Bob Young, Senior Vice President for Academic Administration
Dr. Dionne Felix, Associate Vice President for Academic Administration
Dr. Tyson Hall, Graduate Dean

April 6, 2020 - Video Conversation with President David Smith and SA President Mark Galvez

April 6, 2020

The following video is a conversation between Southern Adventist University president, David Smith, and Student Association president, Mark Galvez, addressing a few questions from students.

Message from David Smith

March 30, 2020 - Welcome Back and Video Message From the President

March 30, 2020

Dear Students,

I hope you are well and feeling refreshed after our extended Spring Break! As we embark together on this second half of the semester, I expect that you are facing many uncertainties. In addition to rapid changes all around us in society, what will it be like to have all of your classes online? How will we all stay connected, so far away from friends and professors? When can we get back to normal?

I don’t have all the answers, but let me make a clear commitment on behalf of our professors, the Online Campus staff, the student support team, and all the rest of us at Southern that we are here to help you through this new experience. I’ve seen some pretty amazing efforts already underway to make this a positive experience for you, and I have faith that with God’s help, this will be a wonderful semester, despite the challenges.

I encourage you to take a few minutes to watch this brief video message of encouragement as you begin this new chapter.

God bless,

David Smith

Message from David Smith

March 17, 2020 - Graduation Postponed (Not Canceled)

March 17, 2020

This message was sent yesterday to all of the students who we know plan to graduate in May. If you did not receive the message but plan to graduate at the end of the semester, please contact Karon Powell, director of Records and Advising, at to fill out a graduation contract.

Dear May graduation candidate,
You are nearing the completion of a major milestone in your life, and we know you have been counting down the weeks and days until graduation. We also recognize that due to COVID-19, the last months of your senior year now look very different than what we all anticipated. The changes Southern has implemented for the remainder of the semester will take some adjustment, and we expect you have many questions regarding the effect on your graduation.
First, let us assure you that once you have completed your academic requirements, you will receive your degree even without a ceremony. Once your financial obligations are met, we will mail your diploma to you, and you will be able to request an official transcript.
However, we also believe that getting together and participating in the long-standing traditions of caps and gowns, Pomp and Circumstance, and in general, celebrating together as a university are important. It is always a memorable time with faculty and staff, friends, parents, siblings, and children. We are working to reschedule the commencement ceremony and will send out an announcement when the details are finalized.
If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to reach out to Karon Powell at
Completing your degree is a huge accomplishment, and we are proud of you for all the hard work you have put in up to this point. Hang in there and finish strong!
David Smith, president
Robert Young, senior vice president for Academic Administration

March 13, 2020 - Video Message From the President

March 13, 2020

The following video is a message from university president, David Smith, to students.

Message from David Smith

March 12, 2020 - Message From the President and FAQ

March 12, 2020

Dear Southern students,

I know that the decision to move classes online and close our residential facilities for the remainder of the semester came as a shock to many of you, and we want you to know that the decision was not made lightly. Your safety is of great importance, and we believe this is the best course of action given the current global and national situation.

Those of us who work in higher education do so because we love young people and learning together! We will deeply miss the presence of students on our campus over the next few months, and eagerly look forward to resuming normal campus life as soon as possible.

While we are closing the residential facilities and moving classes online, campus will remain operational. We will continue to be here, prioritizing your learning needs.

We have created a Frequently Asked Questions page where you can find the answers to many of the questions you probably have; this is a supplement to our COVID-19 page, Other details will be communicated in the days ahead, so continue to check your Southern email account regularly.

In all things, remember that we serve a God who is bigger than all of our challenges, who loves each one of us with an infinite love, and who knows the end from the beginning. Please join me in laying this situation at His feet and seeking His blessing and protection for each member of the Southern family during this challenging time.

David Smith, president

March 12, 2020 - Classes Moved Online

March 12, 2020

After careful consideration of the increasing spread of COVID-19 and out of concern for the wellbeing of our students, Southern Adventist University Administration has determined that we will move to online and/or video distance learning for the rest of the semester. Spring Break will be extended a week with classes resuming online on March 30, 2020.

As the University switches to distance delivery of its classes for the remainder of this semester, our residence halls and Southern Village are also being closed. Students are asked to completely move out by March 20 unless they receive prior permission to remain longer from the office of Residence Life.

As this is a rapidly changing situation, further information about online class delivery, campus services, and other considerations will be provided as available. Please continue to monitor for updates as well as your Southern email account.

Please join us in also praying for God’s leading as this situation continues to unfold. We continue to pray for each of you.

March 11, 2020 - Travel and Events Update


March 11, 2020

Southern Adventist University’s administration continues to work closely with the University Health Center’s medical staff to monitor the spread of COVID-19 in the United States. Currently we are not aware of any coronavirus cases on Southern’s campus or in the surrounding community. Southern Adventist University is also taking several preventative steps to minimize the risk of COVID-19 across campus.


  • Earlier today, all university-sponsored international mission trips and study tours over Spring Break were cancelled.
  • We anticipate classes continuing to operate as normal upon the return of our students from Spring Break.
  • Important: Students leaving campus for Spring Break should take textbooks and other course materials. While we do not anticipate closing campus, students should be prepared for the possibility of distance learning.
  • Any student or employee who has personal contact with or exposure to a known case of COVID-19 should self quarantine and contact the University Health Center before returning to campus.
  • Any student or employee who exhibits symptoms of COVID-19 during Spring Break should not return to campus until medically cleared. Documentation should be provided to University Health Center before returning to campus. Individuals on campus who exhibit symptoms should immediately call the University Health Center at 423.236.2713. (Do not visit the Health Center without first calling.)
  • Any student or employee who travels to a location that has a declared state of emergency due to COVID-19 (in the United States or overseas) should also contact the University Health Center to help Southern track possible exposure.
  • Absences due to illness, quarantine, or travel delays associated with COVID-19 will be accommodated. It is the student’s responsibility to communicate with their professors regarding making up coursework.


  • All public events on campus and gatherings of 50 or more have been cancelled through April 5. This includes concerts, vespers, residence hall worships, and convocations.
  • The previously scheduled Wind Symphony Orchestra at 4 p.m. on April 4 will instead be live streamed at
    Enrichment Credit requirements will be adjusted. (Click here for more Enrichment Credit details.)


  • Our Service Department’s cleaning routines have been increased as they disinfect and sanitize campus. High-use surfaces are regularly wiped down to protect campus health and minimize the risk of infection. Our cleaning supplies are rated to kill viruses, including the coronavirus.
  • Electrostatic sprayers have been deployed to augment these cleaning routines in classrooms, seating areas, and common areas. These sprayers are particularly effective in sanitizing difficult-to-reach areas.
  • Signs have been placed across campus in entryways, common areas, and bathrooms reminding the campus community to regularly wash their hands and practice good hygiene.


  • Continue to wash hands regularly, avoid close contact with people who are sick, and follow the CDC Guidelines to Prevent the Spread of Illness.
  • As you consider Spring Break travel, stay informed about developments and watch for official advisories that could impact when and where you can travel.
  • Monitor your university email and the university’s Coronavirus web page for updates.

Southern’s administration and the University Health Center medical staff will continue to monitor the situation and provide updates as needed. Please join us in lifting up our campus in prayer as we seek God’s continued protection and guidance.

March 6, 2020 - Spring Break Travel Update


March 6, 2020 - Update on Spring Break and International Considerations

With Spring Break right around the corner, we know many of you have questions regarding the impact of the new coronavirus, COVID-19. Let me share an important update, particularly as it relates to travel plans. 

Southern Adventist University has enacted the following guidelines that utilize the Center for Disease Control travel alert levels (available here) with respect to COVID-19. Other factors regarding travel may be taken into consideration beyond these guidelines. 

Travel to CDC COVID-19 Warning Level 3 and Alert Level 2 countries
Southern Adventist University will not currently sponsor any study tours, mission trips, or other travel by Southern employees and students to the countries identified by the CDC at Warning Level 3 or Alert Level 2. 
Trip organizers will communicate directly to students and employees who are scheduled to travel to Warning Level 3 and Alert Level 2 countries to explore alternate plans.
Southern strongly discourages our students, faculty, and staff from personal travel to any Warning Level 3 and Alert Level 2 countries.

Returning to campus after travel to CDC Warning Level 3 and Alert Level 2 countries
Southern faculty and staff who travel to Warning Level 3 or Alert Level 2 countries, OR have airport transit through one of these countries, must email Human Resources.
Southern students who travel to Warning Level 3 or Alert Level 2 countries, OR have airport transit through one of these countries, must email Student Development.
These departments may refer individuals to the University Health Center to implement possible required protocols such as monitoring health indicators, social isolation, and/or quarantine.

Additional international study tour and mission trip information
If a student or employee scheduled to participate in university-sponsored international travel elects not to continue as a trip member due to personal concerns regarding COVID-19, they may work with trip organizers to receive the refundable portion of their trip expenses. (We cannot refund any tax-deductible donations made directly to the university on behalf of a student.)

Inviting international groups or individuals to campus
Employees who wish to bring any international groups or individuals to our campus should contact the senior vice president for Academic Administration before extending the invitation.
Any employee who has already invited a group or individual from a CDC Warning Level 3 or Alert Level 2 country should notify the senior vice president for Academic Administration.

At this point, a Spring Break mission trip to Haiti, a May mission trip to South Korea, and a summer European study tour have been canceled. All other scheduled trips are currently proceeding as planned. We are monitoring government health resources and will make appropriate decisions as necessary.

Everyone has a part in preventing the spread of disease, not only COVID-19 but also colds and flu. Please continue to wash your hands regularly, consider fist or elbow bumps instead of handshakes and hugs, don’t touch your face, avoid people if you are sick, and in general, follow the guidelines provided by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). I encourage you to regularly visit our COVID-19 page, where Southern will continue to post updates.

Please join us in praying for those affected by this virus around the world, the medical responders, and those researching better treatment. We also lift up each of you—our students and employees—in prayer, asking God for protection and guidance in every aspect of life.

David Smith, president

March 2, 2020 - Update on the Coronavirus

coronovirus instructions

Southern Adventist University Administration and Health Center continue to actively monitoring the information, protocols, and the recommendations being communicated by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

Situation in U.S.

The CDC reports that imported cases of COVID-19 in travelers have been detected in the U.S. Person-to-person spread of COVID-19 also has been reported among close contacts of returned travelers from Wuhan. On February 25, CDC confirmed COVID-19 in a person who reportedly did not have relevant travel history or exposure to another known patient with COVID-19 (unknown exposure). At this time, this virus is NOT currently spreading in the community in the United States.
There are NO reports of confirmed cases involving Coronavirus disease COVID-19 in Tennessee.

Spring Break Travel

With Spring Break only a few weeks away, we are recommending that all students, faculty, and staff planning to travel outside of the country, monitor travel advisories from the CDC and the State Department International travel is more difficult than usual as a result of the COVID-19. Due to public health measures, travelers may encounter delays or other difficulties at the US port of entry of another country.
We understand that this situation may be troubling to many. The counseling center is available for students who are looking for support at this time. They can be reached at 423-236-2782.

This is a rapidly developing situation. We will continue to monitor the status and update the campus on any new developments. Please continue to take all recommended precautions.

February 12, 2020 - Campus Health Notice: Novel Coronavirus

Southern Adventist University health officials have been closely following an emerging public health situation regarding an outbreak of pneumonia caused by a novel strain of coronavirus, “2019 Novel Coronavirus” (2019-nCoV), in Wuhan, China.
There have been five confirmed cases of 2019-nCoV in the United States. All cases have stemmed from individuals who have traveled to Wuhan City, China in the recent past.
There have been NO cases in this state or region yet. There is NO known contact with symptomatic individuals in this area. The TN state department of health is monitoring the situation and keeping the medical staff informed. The staff are monitoring the State Dept., CDC, as well as other resources for frequent updates.
Travel Precautions
Currently, the only travel restriction from the State and CDC are to avoid travel to Wuhan City/Hubei Province and avoid unnecessary travel to China. There are currently no recommendations for evacuations of other world regions. Any student, faculty, or staff that is considering travel to Wuhan City, or other areas where there is an active outbreak of the 2019-nCoV virus, or any other destination in China are urged to follow the CDC recommendations.

Health Precautions
There are no current recommendations for quarantine.

  • Because it is cold and flu season, and the symptoms of the 2019-nCoV can be similar those of other common viruses, SAU wants our campus to be vigilant in trying to prevent the spread by following these precautions:
  • Wash your hands regularly with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
  • If soap is not available, use an alcohol based hand sanitizer
  • Avoid touching your face with unwashed hands
  • Disinfect frequently touched surfaces regularly- especially your cell phone
  • Avoid close contact with someone who is sick
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with your elbow or a tissue, not your hands
  • Stay home if you are sick
    · Although facemasks are commonly worn in many countries, little evidence supports their use in a community setting. CDC does not currently recommend that the general public or travelers wear facemasks or respirators to prevent spread novel coronavirus if they are healthy. Notify the health center, dorm RN, or deans if history of travel to Wuhan (or known exposure to such travelers) AND fever AND cough/respiratory symptoms such as shortness of breath.
  • Please call the University Health Center with any questions or concerns at 423-236-2713.

For more information about the 2019-nCoV virus, see the links below:


FAQ for Southern Students

Center for Disease Control and Prevention – Coronavirus Disease 2019 
 How it Spreads
 Prevention and Treatment
 Frequently Asked Questions 
TN Department of Health