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My Top 10 Moments of the 2019-2020 Academic Year

President Ellis speaking at Chapel

By: SAU President Dr. Brent Ellis

Recognizing any attempt to recall memorable moments within a year undoubtedly will exclude many significantly important occurrences, I will attempt to provide you with my 10 favorite moments of the year. 

10. Community Gathering & Discussion of Life Together by Dietrich Bonhoeffer — As our community has grown, with faculty and staff now living across the country, each opportunity we have to gather together in person is significant. The opportunity to read and as a community reflect upon one of my all time favorite books was truly enjoyable. 

9. New Student Move-In Day & Ice Cream with the Prez — While these are two separate events, I am taking an executive privilege and combining them into one. The opportunity to welcome new students into our community of learners and then gather with them for a more intimate event in which Christy and I can begin to get to know them personally is always a favorite time each year. 

The Presidential Couple welcome new students during Ice Cream with the Prez.

8. Homecoming — Every Homecoming is special, but what I particularly appreciated this Homecoming weekend was the opportunity to express thankfulness and give recognition to Coach Deb Thompson as we dedicated the renovated softball complex.

President Ellis offers thanks to softball coach Deb Thompson during Homecoming 2019.

7. FIRST Robotics Competition — Hosting the FIRST Robotics Competition in the MAC this spring truly surprised me. I had never attended such a competition, but witnessing the energy, ingenuity and commitment of those teams and having the opportunity to host many federal, state and local leaders on campus provided a great opportunity to share our incredible university.

Students from across the region were excited to compete in the FIRST Robotics competition hosted at SAU.

6. Chapel with Speaker Lee Hampton — All of our Chapel services are wonderful, and I always enjoy speaking when I am provided the opportunity, but Lee Hampton’s Chapel message, which encouraged our community to strive for holiness in our lives and tied in our denominational and university history, was incredible. Our student response and prayerful consideration of his message was also extremely meaningful to me. 

5. Alumni Reunion in Lakeland, Florida — This reunion was particularly special, as a dozen or so SAU students joined the reunion and spoke to the 100+ alumni and friends gathered. We learned that several students who were participating in the School of Education’s J-Term course in Florida had accepted Christ as their Lord and Savior. 

4. Cougar Madness — As a basketball fan, I’m never disappointed by this event. The energy of our student body, the opportunity to see our men’s and women’s basketball teams display elements of their skill and the victory of the faculty/staff team over the defending national champion men’s team made for a great time!

President Ellis competes on the faculty/staff basketball team during Cougar Madness.

3. Hanging of the Greens — Again, this is always one of my favorite events. This year, our choir’s performance of the song, “Is He Worthy?” stood out to me as they led us in worship of our Lord and Savior, answering the question raised in the song with a profound and enthusiastic, “YES!”

SAU’s University Singers perform during Hanging of the Greens 2019.

2. Alumni & Friends Israel Trip & the Garden of Gethsemane — Each location our group visited during our trip to Israel profoundly impacted me, but none more significantly than the Garden of Gethsemane. Kneeling in the garden and reflecting upon the suffering Christ endured in order to accomplish the will of God the Father overwhelmed me.

1. Senior Gathering at McKenna Tower — My heart broke as it became clear that we needed to send our students home and strip away the last several weeks of our academic year from our residential students. As students were preparing to head home, many seniors gathered on the plaza at the foot of the McKenna Carillon Tower to pray together. It was a powerful reminder of how special our community is and the impact that SAU faculty, staff and students have on each SAU graduate. To our graduating seniors, we love and miss you and can’t wait for an opportunity to recognize your achievements and celebrate with you in person!