Southern Adventist University Responds To Open Letter

Last Friday, Fulcrum7 published an open letter to Southern Adventist University, from a concerned parent of a student. Here is their response, sent to Fulcrum7 editors today:

“Southern Adventist University’s Response to Concerns Regarding the Lumina Foundation Grant and Vice President for Unity and Inclusion Job Posting.

In all its efforts, practices, values, and mission Southern Adventist University makes it clear that it is unequivocally committed to following the teachings of the Bible and the beliefs of the Seventh-day Adventist Church.  Our faithfulness to God’s teaching remains our highest priority, and we hope the following information will correct some recent misconceptions.

 VP for Unity and Inclusion

This position is being created specifically to assist Southern in maintaining a campus environment that exemplifies the highest ideals of biblical community as presented in Jesus' life and described in Scripture. There are many forces in the world working against a biblical model. This new vice president will provide focused attention on applying Scripture to our challenges, such as LGBTQ+ issues, and continuing to uphold GC and NAD policies.  The full job description on our website illustrates that the work of this position is to be fully in line with the teachings of the Bible and the Adventist church. Confirmation of that can be found in the following excerpts from the job description:

 Job Summary

Within the context of the mission and values of the University, the Seventh-day Adventist Church, and Scripture, the vice president contributes to creating a strategic direction for the University. 

 Duties and Responsibilities

  • Help all members of the campus community to unite around university, church and biblical values—to build a supportive, accepting, inclusive, Christ-centered campus environment

  • Help create a Southern Adventist University philosophy of diversity and inclusiveness that is fully reflective of the gospel.


  • Active, committed Seventh-day Adventist Christian

  • Commitment to Biblical worldview and high view of Scripture

Christ calls us to love one another, yet we recognize that this is a sinful world filled with flawed individuals who struggle to walk in His footsteps. By welcoming a vice president for unity and inclusion to Southern’s administration, we acknowledge the need to go the extra mile to make sure that every student on our campus is treated as a true Child of God.

 Lumina Foundation Grant

The work of this grant is completely in line with traditional teachings of the Bible and the Adventist church and supports our ongoing desire to grow in our love and understanding of each other. The projects this grant will fund are:

1) a lecture series with speakers selected by Southern;

2) the collection of oral histories from Southern’s community;

3) an event at which students create solutions to resolve racial barriers that may exist on campus; and

4) research into racial attitudes and perceptions. There are no requirements for the grant, other than that Southern use the funds for our projects during this school year.

 Continuing the Conversation

We long to help our students learn how to live in Christian community where each individual is valued as an image bearer of God and whose intrinsic value is determined by the price Jesus Christ paid. This is not easy work, but it is important. It is appropriate to share concerns and listen to one another.  It is only through open-hearted, honest dialogue that the people of God can overcome misunderstandings and reach a place of accord. If you would like to continue this conversation with President David Smith, we encourage you to contact his assistant at 423.236.2801 to schedule a time to call and speak with Dr. Smith.

 “Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.” —  Galatians 6:2 NKJV”