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Gordon Bietz

Southern Adventist University President Gordon Bietz has announced his plans to retire in May 2016.

The month will mark the conclusion of his 19th year leading the private, Christian school in Collegedale. 

"There is never a right time to transition away from a place you love this much," Bietz said in a news release. "But I also want to leave at a time when the university is in a strong position."

Under Bietz's guidance, both enrollment and the university's budget have doubled, a release from the university stated. Nearly $80 million in construction projects were completed during his tenure.

Plans are underway for $28 million student center, and Bietz said he would like to witness the groundbreaking on that project before his retirement.

Before accepting the position as president at Southern, Bietz pastored the Collegedale Church of Seventh-day Adventists and served as president of the Georgia-Cumberland Conference.

"When students ask me for advice I have just three words: love your neighbor. I don't think we have begun to grasp the depth of those words and put them into practical application in our everyday lives," Bietz said in the release. "If we loved as Jesus loved, and sought what was best for others rather than ourselves, we could truly change the world!"

The university's Board of Trustees reportedly has a committee dedicated to the nationwide search for Southern's next president and expects that process to be completed before Bietz retires.

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