In 1892, Professor George Colcord and his wife, Ada, started Graysville Academy in Graysville, Tennessee. Twenty-three students enrolled that first year.
In November 1897, the school's name was changed to Southern Industrial School, and in 1901, it was changed again to Southern Training School.
In 1915, the women's dorm burned. While no lives were lost, school officials decided to move, and the following year, the school board bought a piece of property called Thatcher Switch and named it Collegedale.
Laying the Foundation
The new location also brought a new name: Southern Junior College. On October 18, 1916, 57 students arrived for classes, with more than 200 turned away for lack of living space.
The new college needed a church, so the Collegedale congregation organized with 50 members.
In 1921, the school ran into financial difficulties and President Lynn Wood volunteered to reduce his pay to that of a department head. Other faculty members followed his example, helping the school survive.
In 1924, after the financial situation improved, the school built a new administration and classroom building. The building was known as College Hall until 1945, when it was renamed Lynn Wood Hall in honor of President Wood.
Building an Educational Community
In 1942, Kenneth A. Wright became president of the school. During Wright's administration, Southern Junior College became accredited as a four-year institution and adopted the new name Southern Missionary College in 1944. Two men and four women received Southern's first baccalaureate degrees two years later.
In the spring of 1944, the board announced a $300,000 expansion program, which included science (Hackman Hall) and music (Miller Hall) buildings and a library (Daniells Memorial Library).
In 1956, the school's largest industry for working students, a furniture factory, burned to the ground. The insurance money was used to build a new plant that was leased to McKee Baking Company. McKee Foods is now the largest manufacturing employer in Hamilton County. Approximately 3,200 employees, including many Southern students, work at four Collegedale plants.
In 1958 Conard N. Rees became president. New buildings began to dot the campus, including Talge Hall, the Collegedale Church, the Iles P.E. Center, an industrial education building, and a shopping plaza. The enrollment shot from 500 to more than 1,200 students, and the school introduced a new campus radio station, WSMC-FM.
In 1967, Wilbert Schneider replaced Rees. During his administration, construction on Wright Hall was completed, providing offices for administration, a new cafeteria, and the student center. The men's dorm was demolished for the planned McKee Library, and the new home economics building (now occupied by the School of Education and Psychology) and Thatcher Hall were completed.
In 1982, Southern Missionary College again changed its name, becoming Southern College of Seventh-day Adventists. Brock Hall was added in 1983, and the music building, known as Miller Hall, was refurbished and became the home of the religion department.
In 1996, trustees voted to move the college toward university status, and later that year, they voted on a new name: Southern Adventist University. A double dedication was held the following February for the university and for the Hickman Science Center. The first graduate classes began in the summer of 1996.
In 1997, Gordon Bietz became the president of Southern Adventist University, which began a period of rapid expansion, both in enrollment and academics. The first graduate degrees were awarded in 1998, along with the addition of the master's in business administration, counseling, and software engineering. A degree in visual art and design was added in the late 1990s.
The New Millennium
In 2001, an undergraduate enrollment of 2,098 eclipsed the previous record of 2,091
set in 1980, and Southern became the largest Seventh-day Adventist undergraduate institution
in the North American Division. A nationwide emphasis on marketing affordability,
value, Christian peers and professors, and the spiritual environment of the campus
led to a steadily increasing enrollment. In the fall of 2010, enrollment broke the
3,000 mark, with 3,053 students receiving a Christian education at the university.
Growth brought many facility expansions, including Southern Village, a new community of student apartment complexes built across from the Collegedale Church. A new wing was added onto Talge Hall in 2004, providing 260 additional student beds. The university maintains its residential nature, with a majority of the students living on campus.
The $9.5 million Campaign for Health and Healing produced two expansions on campus—the new Hulsey Wellness Center and a new nursing building.
In the new millennium, academic excellence continues:
- The School of Nursing nurse practitioner program has a 100 percent pass rate for certification exams.
- The School of Religion operates the Lynn H. Wood Archaeological Museum with the largest teaching collection of Near East artifacts in the United States.
- The School of Visual Art and Design won the Crystal Heart Award at the Heartland Film Festival for its Christian feature film, Secret of the Cave.
- The School of Business and Management offers the MBA degree completely online.
- The Social Work program received $500,000 in state grant funds to train Tennessee caseworkers from the Tennessee Department of Children's Services.
- The university has achieved a top tier ranking for nine consecutive years in the U.S. News and World Report.
- In 2010, Hans van Walter became the first Southern student to appear on Jeopardy!, coming in third (out of 10,000 who had applied) in the show’s annual college tournament.
Southern Adventist University continues to move forward and expand its influence and educate with strong Christian beliefs and a Christ-centered worldview. History is still being written.
You may also enjoy "A Century of Change".
|1892||School is founded in Graysville.
Tuition is $4 per month for its 23 students.
|1893||Graysville Academy administration building is constructed. Enrollment reaches 120.|
|1915||Women's dormitory burns in February.|
|1916||School moves to Thatcher farm.
Male students live in tents first three winters.
|1919||Electricity installed on campus.|
|1924||Lynn Wood Hall is built.|
|1931||Tornado does $3,000 in damage in July.|
|1934||Tabernacle is built on site now occupied by Hickman Science Center.|
|1936||Southern Junior College gains accreditation with Southern Association.|
|1940||First Ph.D. faculty member is hired.|
|1941||First Southern student is drafted in July.|
|1946||A.G. Daniells Memorial library is built.
Southern Missionary College awards first baccalaureate in May.
|1950||Hackman Hall is built to hold sciences.
Southern is accredited as a four-year college.
|1954||Harold Miller Hall is built for music.|
|1955||Student Park is created.|
|1957||McKee Bakery moves to Collegedale to provide student employment.|
|1959||WSMC is issued FM license.|
|1961||New Talge Hall is built as women's dorm.|
|1963||Committee of 100 is founded.|
|1964||Enrollment exceeds 1,000.|
|1965||Collegedale church is built.
Physical Education Center opens.
|1967||Wright Hall is built.|
|1968||New Thatcher Hall is built.|
|1970||McKee Library is opened.|
|1971||Summerour Hall is built.|
|1973||New cafeteria/student center opens.|
|1976||Herin Hall is built to house nursing.|
|1979||First Strawberry Festival slideshow is held.
Destiny Drama Company begins.
|1980||Enrollment peaks at 2,079.|
|1981||Southern Scholars honors program starts.
Mabel Wood Hall opens.
|1983||First endowed chair is established.|
|1984||Brock Hall is dedicated.|
|1985||Garden of Prayer is dedicated.|
|1986||24-hour broadcasting begins at WSMC.
Church organ is dedicated.
|1987||Promenade is finished.|
|1990||Lynn Wood Hall is renovated.|
|1991||New science center fund raising begins.|
|1992||Centennial is celebrated, including mention on NBC'sToday Show.|
|1994||Internet access becomes available at more than 150 workstations.|
|1995||Employee wellness program gets gold Well Workplace Award.|
|1996||Southern Adventist University becomes school's new name.
Master of science in education classes begin.
Level III accreditation is granted.
|1997||Hickman Science Center is dedicated.
Center for Learning Success is established.
Master's in religion and counseling is added.
|1998||First graduate degrees awarded.
Masters of business administration, counseling, software engineering added.
Social work program accredited by Council on Social Work Education.
New Motor Pool finished, old service station razed.
|1999||University of Arizona Centennial Archaeology Collection is donated to Southern.|
|2000||Master's in nursing is added.
Undergraduate enrollment increases by 12 percent, the largest increase in 54 years.
Ground is broken for the first three Southern Village student apartment buildings.
|2001||Largest undergraduate enrollment in 109-year history, 2,098 students.|
|2002||Two additional Southern Village apartments are constructed to handle increased enrollment.|
|2003||SACS reaffirms 10-year accreditation.
New addition to Talge Hall is under construction.
The College Press is sold.
|2004||Southern Carton industry closes.
Southern is ranked Top Tier.
Grand opening of the Lynn H. Wood Archaeological Museum.
|2005||Student Park cave reopens to public, managed by the outdoor education program.
A fire in a kitchenette/lobby area on the third floor of Thatcher Hall claims the life of one female student.
|2006||Two hundred thousand fossils are donated to Southern biology department.
New online courses are offered by the Virtual Campus.
|2007||School of Business is accredited by the International Assembly for Collegiate Business
JumpStart summer program for conditional students debuts.
The two-story administration building was built in 1893. After a dormitory burned in 1915, the decision was made to move the campus to a location with more room for expansion.
Lynn Wood Hall in the ’20s
The original administration building on the Collegedale campus.
Campus in the ’40s
A busy noon hour in the 1940s finds students walking along the area where the K.R. Davis Promenade now links campus buildings. At that time, a road paralleled the walkway. Old Talge Hall, Lynn Wood Hall, and Jones Hall are seen to the right of the flagpole.
The tree-lined street passing through the campus was located west of the present University Drive. If it still existed where it was, the residence halls would be to the right or east of it.
Since this photo was taken, the look of the sanctuary has changed considerably with the addition of the Anton Heiller Memorial Organ, dedicated in April 1986.