New Southern Adventist University Student Center Receives Design Awards


The new Bietz Center for Student Life at Southern Adventist University has won four awards from the Association of University Interior Designers (AUID), a national organization. Most notably, wall art in the Bietz Center’s Jack Blanco Chapel won “Best in Show.” Entries were submitted by universities across the country and were independently judged by professionals in architecture and interior design. 

“The ‘Best in Show’ almost put me in tears,” said Becky Djernes, interior design and real estate coordinator at Southern. “Never in my wildest dreams would I have expected that a spiritual project would win. When it did, I just smiled and said, ‘God, you win. You always win.’”

The chapel was named in honor of Jack Blanco, PhD, a retired dean of the university’s School of Religion. In planning the winning wall art, Djernes had asked Blanco: “If you had only four Bible verses to share the gospel with someone, what would they be?” His answers (Jeremiah 29:11, John 3:16-17, John 14:1-3, and Revelation 22:1-3) are printed in their entirety on large panels. Additionally, the backlit panels showcase copies of Blanco’s hand written Bible study notes that eventually became The Clear Word paraphrase.  

The Blanco Chapel wall art also won first place in the “Specialty” category. Additional Bietz Center awards included second place in the “Specialty” category for metal wall art in The Hangout, and third place in the “Renovations $50,000-$150,000” category for the Southern Shoppe. 

The awards were announced during this year’s AUID annual conference, which was held in Chattanooga, Tennessee, not far from Southern. As part of the conference, more than 20 AUID members toured the university’s campus. Attendees expressed appreciation for Southern’s beautiful grounds and cohesive architectural theme. Djernes was thrilled by the response, saying, “What really made me happy was having several people say, ‘You can see evidence of God across your campus.’”