After its founding as Graysville Academy in 1892, this educational institution evolved and expanded, changed its name twice, and moved in 1916 to what later became the town of Collegedale in Hamilton County. On its new one-thousand-acre campus the school, then known as Southern Junior College, continued to grow, and by 1944 its academic offerings included a four-year program and “Missionary” replaced “Junior” in its name. Four decades later its name shifted to Southern College of Seventh-day Adventists. In 1996, when the institution initiated two Master of Science degrees in Education and in Community Counseling, it became Southern Adventist University. The institution’s twenty-third president, Gordon Bietz, was installed in 1997.
The present study body numbers more than sixteen hundred and comes from forty-seven foreign countries as well as from across the United States. The majority of students are from the Southeast and most take classes in Collegedale, but B.S. nursing classes are also available in three locations in Florida. Besides the new graduate program, the twenty-one departments at Southern Adventist University offer a range of majors for baccalaureate degrees, associate degrees, and four different one-year technology certificates. The university is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. Its radio station, WSMC-FM, broadcasts from the campus throughout the Chattanooga area, and McKee Foods Corporation has its headquarters there. The Seventh-day Adventist Church, central to the institution’s identity, provides it with the mission to instill students with a sense of service to others.