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Southern Adventist University Considers David C. Smith to Succeed President Gordon Bietz


Southern Adventist University’s Presidential Search Committee is vetting David C. Smith, the senior pastor of the Collegedale Seventh-day Adventist Church and former president of Union College, as its candidate for university president. The Southern Accent, the university’s student newspaper, broke the news on Friday, January 29. Southern is looking for a successor to President Gordon Bietz, who announced in April 2015 that he would retire this year after nineteen years as president.

Smith served as president of Union College in Lincoln, Nebraska from 1998 to 2011, when he accepted a call to Collegedale to serve as that church's senior pastor.

According to the Accent article, Southern's search committee selected Dave Smith on January 11th. Prior to that, Walla Walla University president John McVay had been selected as a candidate, but after visiting the campus and meeting with stakeholders, he declined the position.

According to sources familiar with Andrews University’s presidential search, McVay was also invited to consider Andrews, and also declined. Andrews University is searching for a replacement for outgoing president Niels-Erik Andreasen.

Southern Adventist University has contracted with faith-based search firm FaithSearch Partners, based in Houston, TX, to oversee the search process.

Following the committee’s selection of Dave Smith as its candidate, Smith visited the campus last Thursday and Friday to meet with stakeholders. According to Southern’s marketing department editorial manager Lucas Patterson, Smith spent two very full days talking with faculty members, department chairs, deans and students. Smith did not have to travel far for the campus visit. As pastor of the university’s church, Smith is already a familiar face on the Southern campus.

After Smith’s on-campus meetings, the search committee will collect written feedback from stakeholders before making a final recommendation to the Board of Trustees. The Board hopes to make a formal invitation by mid-February, Patterson said.

President Bietz plans to spend a transitional period working alongside his successor before moving to a new role as director of the Association of Adventist Colleges and Universities, the Accent reported.


Jared Wright is Managing Editor of

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