New leader of Southern Adventist University is first alumnus to return as president

Photo contributed by Southern Adventist University / Ken Shaw
photo Photo contributed by Southern Adventist University / Ken Shaw

Southern Adventist University in Collegedale will soon have a new president who graduated from the school with a degree in math in 1980.

Southwestern Adventist University President Ken Shaw will take on the role as 27th president of Southern Adventist University on June 1. David Smith, the current president of Southern, has been in that role since 2016. He will retire after 22 years at Southern, with five of those years as president.

"I am pleased that Dr. Ken Shaw has accepted our invitation to be the next president of Southern Adventist University," said Ron Smith, chairman of Southern's Board of Trustees and president of the Southern Union Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, in an announcement of the leadership change. "The unanimous decision of the board is strong evidence that the will of God has been executed. We thank the Lord for His providential leading and anticipate His blessing in the Southern community as a result of Dr. Shaw's acceptance."

Shaw has served as the 25th president of Southwestern Adventist University since 2014, when he moved to Texas from Florida where he served as the academic dean of the College of Applied Studies and campus dean of Florida State University Panama City, according to a release from Southern.

Shaw graduated from Southern in 1980 with a Bachelor of Arts in mathematics and will be the university's first graduate to return as president. Shaw's family also graduated from Southern: his wife, Ann (Kennedy), earned her nursing degree in 1979; their daughter, Kate Myers, earned her associate and bachelor's degrees in nursing in 2008 and 2009; and their son, Martin, earned his pastoral care degree in 2012.

"Ann and I cherish our memories from Southern," Shaw said. "Returning to campus is like coming home for us, and we're delighted to be part of this institution. I really admire that Southern is still fundamentally centered on its mission and on the core values that the institution has been about for 129 years."

For the past seven years, Shaw has served as president of Southwestern Adventist University in Keene, Texas. Previously he worked at Florida State University for 25 years in various capacities, from assistant professor of mathematics education to campus dean of Florida State University Panama City and academic dean of the College of Applied Studies. His track record as a leader in higher education includes increasing enrollment, establishing new academic programs, and improving institutional financial stability.

- Compiled by Staff Writer Mary Fortune