Southern Adventist University Launches $50 Million Campaign For Excellence In Faith And Learning; President Bietz Retires

  • Thursday, April 28, 2016

Southern Adventist University on Thursday announced a $50 million Campaign for Excellence in Faith and Learning, while also announcing that President Gordon Bietz is retiring.

The SAU president for the past 19 years, he is retiring in May.

More than 1,000 people, including government officials and Chattanooga business leaders, were in attendance for the Bietz Legacy Event at 11 a.m. in Iles P.E. Center on campus.

School officials said, "Under Bietz’s guidance, both enrollment and the university’s budget have doubled. Nearly $80 million in construction projects were completed during his tenure to accommodate that growth, including Southern Village apartment complex, Hulsey Wellness Center, and Florida Hospital Hall, home to the School of Nursing. Academics were also strengthened during the current presidency, as evidenced by accreditations for Southern’s professional schools and 14 consecutive years of a Top Tier ranking by U.S. News & World Report’s “Best Colleges” guide."

Before becoming Southern’s president, Gordon Bietz pastored the Collegedale Church of Seventh-day Adventists for 13 years and served as president for the Georgia-Cumberland Conference of Seventh-day Adventists as well. He was also a board member for a variety of Chattanooga non-profits.

Components of the $50 million Campaign for Excellence in Faith and Learning - nearly triple the amount of any previous campus campaign - include construction of a new student life center and other facility improvements, increased endowments for scholarships and research, the continued greening of campus, and annual giving. Nearly $32 million in cash and pledges has already been raised during the campaign’s leadership phase, which quietly began in 2013.

The student life center, projected to open in fall 2018, will be located between McKee Library and Hickman Science Center. Architectural renderings estimate the facility at more than 40,000 square feet and costing $13 million. Groundbreaking for this structure took place immediately following the Bietz Legacy Event.

Officials said, "The Bietz Legacy Event and campaign’s public launch have been intertwined since 2015 when the president announced his pending retirement and made known a strong desire to witness the new student center’s groundbreaking before he left office."

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