University Hires Furloughed Alum During Government Shutdown

The partial government shutdown this winter brought about an unexpected, mutual blessing to Southern Adventist University and a furloughed alum.

Lonnie Maize,’78, is a certified arborist and historic preservationist who currently works for the Channel Island National Park in Ventura, California. During the shutdown, Maize used frequent flyer miles to visit his mother and sister, Pam (Maize) Harris, professor in Southern’s School of Journalism and Communication, in Collegedale.

While in the area, Southern reached out to Maize and asked if he would use his expertise to help the university short-term. He agreed, and Southern hired him to identify hazardous trees along the Sabbath Trail as well as offer training on correct chainsaw techniques. He also planted dozens of dogwood trees along the trail.

“My experience here was kind of surreal, to be back at Southern working on trails I had hiked 41 years ago,” Maize said. “It brought back memories I hadn't thought of for years. One part that was pleasing to me was imagining that some dogwoods I planted may provide beauty to individuals walking life’s path behind me.”

Marty Hamilton, associate vice president for Financial Administration, helped coordinate the details, using allocated donor contributions to fund the work done by Maize.

“I think the Lord impressed me to see if Lonnie was willing to work for us,” Hamilton said. “It helped him out, it helped the university out, so it was a win-win for both of us. Landscape Services told me that it was an awesome experience to have him here.”

Even after the shutdown ended, Maize decided to stay for a few more days to finish up the work, using his personal vacation time.

“I always say, ‘you never know what a day brings,’” Maize said. “I never dreamed I would find work at my alma mater while being laid off from a government shutdown. Friends of mine who work at Southern saw an opportunity for me to use my special skills in areas where Southern needed help. I am extremely grateful for the opportunity.”

Tierra Hayes Story by Tierra Hayes Published: Last Edited:

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