Southern Virginia University held convocation ceremonies to ring in the tenth academic year since its inception in 1996. Students, faculty, and staff gathered to hear remarks from Glade Knight (Chair of SVU’s Board of Trustees), Dr. Rodney Smith (SVU President), and Dr. Paul Edwards (SVU’s Executive Vice President & Provost). The audience also heard a musical performance by Professor Mark Taylor (violin) and Tracey Bradshaw (piano).

Mr. Knight advised students to learn who they are inside – their strengths, weaknesses, beliefs, and values. A persons strengths and talents are “God-given gifts,” through which God intends us to help and teach other people. Weaknesses give an individual the opportunity to learn from others. He also counseled students to work above and beyond what is required of them. “If you only do what you’re asked, you’ll never be more than average.” Mr. Knight reminded students that Southern Virginia University was not a place where they came to prepare to be average people, but to prepare to be leader-servants.

President Smith spoke to students about his college years, and the adjustment he underwent after transferring from a large state-run university to a small liberal arts school. He recounted instances when his perceptions were expanded and refined because of the learning he experienced – particularly in subjects he was not previously interested in studying. President Smith encouraged students to round out their educations, and to study rigorously. “Every day, when you walk into class,” he began. “I want you to ask yourselves: How am I going to be transformed? How am I going to be changed as a result of what I learn in this class today?” Lifelong learners are people who are always improving their quality of life, and the lives of those around them.

Vice President Edwards assumed his position at SVU this summer, after serving as an educator and president of George Mason University’s Mercatus Center. He was also the Vice President of Academic Affairs at George Mason University’s Institute for Humane Studies, and was a professor of Political Science at Brigham Young Universit

This morning, Vice President Edwards spoke with the audience regarding several desiderata he had for the university. Foremost among his desires was that the university family would “sanctify” itself and its practices. He reasoned that if each student, staff, and, faculty member would live according to the honor code and devote their lives and efforts to the Lord, that the Lord would bless the institution and people’s efforts to support it. Vice President Edwards stressed the importance of “learning by study and also by faith.” He encouraged all present to seek diligently to learn and teach each other, to become experts in all of academia. He also made it clear that knowledge and expertise do not justify pride and discrimination. Knowledge, like Mr. Knight’s view of talents, is a divine gift intended for helping others. Vice President Edwards summarized SVU’s mission by saying, “the core purpose of Southern Virginia University is to prepare leader-servants, and develop scholar-disciples.”

This year, SVU will celebrate its tenth anniversary with a series of special events, commemorating the school’s rebirth in 1996. Today’s Convocation ceremonies were among the first of such events. Please check back for upcoming activities and presentations, including Homecoming celebrations, athletic games, fine arts performances, and community open houses. More information is available online at