This week, vintage tractors, hayrides, and Cracker Jacks marked the beginning of Southern Adventist University’s official 125th anniversary celebration. While events will continue all year, January 25 (or 1/25) was chosen as the kickoff date, commemorating the school’s start in the spring of 1892.
Students and faculty piled on for the hayrides offered along the Promenade—a broad walkway stretching the full length of campus. Along the way, restored tractors from 1947 to 1960 lined the sidewalk, highlighting the humble farm machine that was actually invented the same year that Southern began. Troy DeWind, assistant director of Landscape Services, and his family provided the nine tractors and conducted the rides.
“We tried to give students a glimpse into the past, a reminder of a bygone era and what campus would have been like,” DeWind said. “We had a great time. The Lord blessed us with beautiful weather, especially for January.”
“There is a lot of nostalgia in the air,” said Stephen Lopez, sophomore social work major.
“I enjoyed the hayrides and seeing the tractors because it was like a blast from the past. I really appreciate the effort that has been put into planning this celebration.”
The Student Association joined the fun by handing out boxes of Cracker Jacks—a popular snack food since the 1890s.
“We had a great time celebrating,” said Moses Maier, Student Association president and senior finance major. “This was a fun reminder for everyone about a food that was around at Southern's beginning, and that, like this snack, Southern’s great experience is still here as well.”
“For 125 years, students have had similar experiences to mine as they’ve studied, laughed, and prayed here,” said Sheann Brandon, junior journalism major. “It’s crazy to think about how God has used Southern for more than a century to help people like me learn and grow. I am awestruck to be a part of this community.”
Southern is also using this anniversary to emphasize the university’s longstanding tradition of serving others. On Martin Luther King Day, which is Southern’s annual Community Service Day, the school launched a campaign to collect 125,000 hours of service by the end of 2017. Participants that day logged more than 4,000 hours. Students, employees, alumni, and friends of Southern are invited to enter their hours and check progress throughout the year at southern.edu/125.
“At Southern, we aspire to the highest ideals Jesus set forth during His time on earth,” said David Smith, PhD, president of Southern. “Just as He came to serve and not to be served, His followers are to live lives focused on serving others. For 125 years, Southern has challenged our students with this philosophy, and in turn, our alumni have impacted people for God in every corner of the globe. Moving forward, we will continue to motivate students to become all they can be with God’s help, dedicated to serving others.”
The university has many more celebratory plans for the year, including pop-up musical performances, commemorative pins, a new school song, and a time-capsule opening, to name a few.
“As we celebrate 125 years of providing Adventist education in the South, our goal is to create opportunities for everyone to celebrate with us,” said Evonne Crook, director of Alumni Relations. “As they do, we hope they’ll become better acquainted with Southern’s history and mission of preparing students for lives of service locally and globally in their communities, churches, and workplaces.”