BUENA VISTA, VIRGINIADuring the week of October 10-17, Southern Virginia University will hold its 2005 Homecoming ceremonies, celebrating the beginning of the tenth  anniversary of the school’s reorganization.

Then & Now

Southern Virginia was first established in 1867 as a social polishing seminary for girls.  Through the 1900’s it was a two-year college for women called Southern Seminary, or “Sem” for short. In 1996 it became a four-year coeducational university, primarily serving members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Since that transition, SVU has grown remarkably in student enrollment, academics, campus social life, and athletics. SVU is committed to providing students with a quality education and opportunities for personal development, in a wholesome environment based on the standards of The Church of Jesus Christ.

In the past ten years, attendance at Southern Virginia has increased ten-fold. Approximately seventy students enrolled in 1996, and this fall the university welcomed just over seven hundred students to campus. SVU students have come to Buena Vista from all fifty states and from more than twenty foreign countries.

Community Support

Southern Virginia University is located in the city of Buena Vista in Rockbridge County. This small town, rich in community spirit, is home to roughly six thousand citizens and has remained stable since its establishment at the turn of the last century.

The comparatively rapid influx of seven hundred young people to the city’s population has presented a challenge for the physical and cultural adaptation of the community. University President, Dr. Rodney K. Smith, sympathizes with local apprehension. “It’s like were the new family in town, and we have seven hundred kids,” he said. “That’s a big adjustment for any  community to make, but we have come to feel very much at home in Buena Vista.” He continued, “Many of our neighbors have indicated that SVU has had a positive impact on the community in an economic, cultural, and social sense.”

One of the unique characteristics of the university is its mission “to prepare leader-servants.” SVU trains students to become citizens with interest and investment in their communities, people who give of their time and talents to help others around them. With this goal in mind, a special service-learning requirement is included in the university’s academic curriculum. Students receive credit for participating in community outreach programs and projects. Every year, Southern Virginia University students give thousands of hours of service to various community causes. Projects include tutoring and mentoring at local grade schools, helping at hospitals and veterinarian clinics, visiting and performing at retirement homes and senior centers, constructing and renovating community facilities, and many others.

Naturally, community support is necessary for these endeavors to take place.  “Without the graciousness of the local citizens, Southern Virginia would fail in its mission to prepare students to be leader-servants,” said university spokesperson Yvonne Carpenter. “We are grateful for their willingness to work with our employees and students.”

Community members have opened their homes and properties for students to rent, local business provide discounts, welcoming atmospheres, and employment for students, and people reach out to help Southern Virginia teach and train their students.

Homecoming Events

A series of events is scheduled next week to celebrate Southern Virginia University’s tenth Homecoming. Among them is the dedication of the Stoddard Activities Center — a new facility on campus adjacent to Knight Arena. The ribbon-cutting ceremony will begin at 11:00am on Thursday, Oct. 13. Press and community are invited to attend.

The Knight Scramble Golf Tournament will take place on Friday, Oct. 14 at 1:00pm, at the Vista Links Golf Course in Buena Vista. The participation fee is $30.00. For more information, please contact SVU’s Head Golf Coach, Kevin Parks, at (540) 261-2732.

The Alumni Dinner will be held in the Ballroom of Main Hall at 5:30pm on Friday, Oct 14, and will be followed by the Fall Choral Concert (7:30 p.m., Chandler Hall), the Pep Rally (9:00 p.m., Knight Arena). At this special pep rally, the university will honor its athletes who have participated in sports at Southern Virginia for four consecutive years.

Saturday’s traditional football game will start at 1:00pm at Parry McCluer High School Field, where the Knights will face off against Atlantic College.  Throughout the afternoon the Knights will also be competing at Washington & Lee University (volleyball tri-match at 1:30 p.m. & 4:00 p.m.), and Glen Maury Park (men’s soccer vs. Warren Wilson at 3:00 p.m.). The annual Homecoming formal dance will begin at 8:00pm in the newly completed Stoddard Activities Center.