A Taste of Southern, the first event of its kind hosted by Southern Adventist University, debuted October 2, 2022, in downtown Chattanooga, Tennessee, United States. The event featured music ensembles, works of art, and a farm-to-table dinner provided in part by the university’s own Thatcher Farm. Held at the alumni-owned Westin hotel on Pine Street, the invitation-only evening provided more than 200 local business and organization professionals in attendance a glimpse of what students and employees enjoy every day on the Collegedale, Tennessee, campus.
The event raised more than US$88,000, with proceeds going to establish an endowment scholarship for first-generation college students. As early as fall 2023, students whose parents do not have four-year degrees will benefit from the new funds. The program included stories from a current first-generation student as well as from a first-generation alum who is now impacting the Chattanooga community as director of video at McCallie School.
Several elected officials attended, including Congressman Chuck Fleischmann, who offered the invocation. District Attorney Coty Wamp shared glowing praise for the event: “Chattanooga has a few gems, and Southern is one of them. Anytime we can rally around one of our schools in this community, I’m happy to be here,” she said.
Sponsors for the event included San Sebastián Development, Southern Union Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, Blluum, DeFoor Brothers, Morning Pointe Senior Living, and nearly 20 other community partners.
Southern has been part of the region for 130 years, and Greg Vital of Morning Pointe noted, “The unique factors of the campus and the contributions its students are now making as part of the business and professional community are quite amazing, and it was nice to see that highlighted.”
Don Howe of Howe Farms, an alum who started what is now the largest wedding venue business in Tennessee, said he was pleased “to see our university doing so well and being involved in the community and so many programs. It made me proud.”
In addition to performances by the School of Music’s Steel Band and I Cantori, the evening featured an art gallery curated by the School of Visual Art and Design with works by faculty, alumni, and friends of the university.