Since becoming Southern Adventist University’s 25th president in 1997, Gordon Bietz has followed an ambitious agenda to update facilities, grow the university’s academic offerings, and maintain the campus’ focus on spiritual development.
Under Bietz’s leadership, enrollment has increased by over 1,200 students, and facilities have experienced record renovations to accommodate that growth. Newly completed construction projects include Southern Village, the Hulsey Wellness Center, Florida Hospital Hall, and an addition on Talge Hall.
The academic programs on campus have been strengthened during the current presidency by earning top accreditations for Southern’s professional schools. The Graduate Studies program has grown from a handful of classes to 10 master’s degrees and numerous concentrations within those degrees.
Before accepting the position as president at Southern, Bietz pastored the Collegedale Church of Seventh-day Adventists and served as president of the Georgia-Cumberland Conference. So it’s no surprise that his nurturing instincts concerning spiritual development come quite naturally. To encourage Christian growth on a large campus, Bietz has overseen the creation of an increasing number of small-group studies. Students are encouraged to dig deep and improve their relationship with God by increased interaction and accountability among students on a similar path.
Bietz was also instrumental in developing Vision 20/20, a strategic plan outlining 16 specific initiatives designed to strengthen the campus in a variety of ways. Illustrating just one example of many successful initiatives, Southern’s first solar panels will be installed in the spring of 2012 to begin generating electricity and reducing costs. This bold move forward contributes to the goal of environmental sustainability and the campus’ green initiative.
Bietz has assumed a number of off-campus leadership roles as well, including membership on several boards for hospitals and non-profits in the greater Chattanooga area. He also serves as executive director of the Adventist Association for Colleges and Universities, a consortium of 14 Seventh-day Adventist institutions who collaborate on marketing and enrollment projects, career development initiatives, data sharing, and higher education mission conferences.
Due in part to his successful leadership at Southern, Bietz is in high demand as a speaker at workshops and seminars all across the country. But no matter where his travels take him, he always comes back home to Southern!