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Southern Virginia University
Motto Learn that Life is Service
Established 1867
Type Private college
Religious affiliation The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (unofficially)[1]
Endowment US $300,000 [2]
President Rodney K. Smith
Faculty ~100
Students 752 [3]
Location Buena Vista, Virginia, USA
Campus Rural, 155 acres (0.63 km2)
Colors Hunter Green, Black and White               
Nickname Knights
Athletics NAIA, USCAA, 20 varsity teams

Southern Virginia University (SVU) is a liberal arts college located in Buena Vista, Virginia that promotes standards and values of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church) while not being owned nor operated by the Church. Founded as Southern Seminary in 1867, it is now a private, 4-year coeducational institution.

Due to SVU's promotion of LDS standards and ideals, 96% of students are Church members.[4] The University is accredited by the American Academy for Liberal Education, and the campus consists of more than 155 acres (0.63 km2).



The school was founded as a for-profit institution in 1867 as the Home School for Girls by Alice Scott Chandler. [5] In 1900 the school was moved to Buena Vista and renamed Southern Seminary. In 1922 the school became a junior college and was renamed Southern Seminary and Junior College. [6] In 1959 it became a non-profit college under the control of trustees. In 1961 the school ended its high school program and became Southern Seminary Junior College.[6][7]

The financial health of the college began to decline in the 1980s, and by 1996 the school was at the point of closing. Late name changes were to Southern Virginia College for Women in 1993 and simply Southern Virginia College when the school began accepting male students in 1994.

In 1996, Southern Virginia College's board of trustees transferred the school's assets and liabilities to a new board, most of whom were members of LDS Church. They reorganized the school to put forth standards, values, and beliefs of the LDS Church. In 2000 the school was accepted into pre-accreditation status by the American Academy for Liberal Education (AALE), which is separate from regional accreditation bodies[8][9] and was renamed Southern Virginia University.[10] In 2003 it was granted full accreditation by the AALE.

Main Hall
Durham Hall


Southern Virginia University offers thirteen different majors: Art, Biology, Business Management and Leadership, Computer Science, English, Family and Child Development, History, Liberal Arts, Music, Philosophy, Politics, Spanish, and Theatre.[11]

Incoming students have averaged a 3.2 high school GPA with ACT and SAT test scores averaging about 23 and 1050, respectively.[4]

The cost of tuition at this college as of 2009 is roughly $16,000 annually.

The retention rate at SVU is around 37% (after Freshman year) and the graduation rate is 28%.[12]


The University's campus currently consists of twelve major buildings, including Main Hall (the most visible building at SVU, serving as administrative offices and as a residence hall), the Student Union, the Knight Sports Arena, the Stoddard Activities Center, the Von Canon Library, Landrum Hall (currently used as an Institute of Religion building), Craton Hall and Robey Hall (men's residence halls), The Lofts, (women's residence hall) Durham Hall (the main academic building), Chandler Hall (theatre and music), and over 16 homes which are used for additional student housing and office space. The University owns approximately 155 acres (0.63 km2), most of which is slated for future development.

The University is nestled in the midst of the Blue Ridge Mountains, a scenic area of Virginia. The Knight Statue, placed in front of Main Hall, was a gift to the University from Glade Knight, chairman of the board of trustees.

On March 6, 2008, members of the Buena Vista, Virginia city council and administrators from the University met to discuss a ten year master plan.[13] A study[13] conducted in 2007 denoted that the University has a $17 million impact in Buena Vista and in the surrounding community. Additionally, the University plans to build a new library, performing arts center, facilities maintenance building, academic classroom building, an addition to the Stoddard Activities Center and a renovated Student Union.[citation needed]

Performing arts

SVU offers several performing arts sections to its students. For choir, students may choose from Chamber Choir, a Women's Choir (Bella Voce), a show choir (ENCORE), and an a cappella choir (Fading Point). There is also the Southern Virginia University Dance Company, which performs many different styles of dance at different functions throughout the year, including ballet, jazz, lyrical, and hip-hop. Music programs consist of an Orchestra, Pep Band, Wind Ensemble, and Woodwind Ensemble. The theater program has performed The Diary of Anne Frank, The Sound of Music, The Importance of Being Earnest, Seeking Higher Ground, and Beauty and the Beast, among many others. Other options for participation in the Theater program include the Shenanigans Improv Comedy Group, student directed one act plays, pageant wagon, and participation in the SVU Film Festival.[14]

Students and faculty

SVU's stated mission is to "prepare leader-servants in the workplace and the world, in the community and the church, and in the home." It primarily serves faithful members of the LDS Church but also invites all who will adhere to its values (delineated in its honor code) to participate.[15]

Religious activity

LDS Church principles and activities are fully integrated into life and education at SVU. An LDS Church Institute of Religion is operated on an on-campus church. Also, once each semester the University organizes a trip to the Church's Washington D.C. Temple.[citation needed]

Honor code

SVU requires all students and faculty to adhere to a strict honor code[16], similar to the Brigham Young University Honor Code. The SVU honor code includes the following guidelines:

  • Honesty in academic and personal behavior
  • Living a chaste and virtuous lifestyle
  • Abstinence from alcohol, tobacco, tea, coffee, and illicit drugs
  • Respect for the rights and property of others
  • Obedience to law and University policies
  • Observation of University dress and grooming standards

An ecclesiastical endorsement to live the honor code is part of the application process. This consists of students signing a compact in conjunction with their bishop if they are LDS, or with their respective ecclesiastical leader if they are of another faith.[16]

Notable alumni


  1. ^ Not owned by or officially affiliated with the LDS Church
  2. ^ "The Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS)". National Center for Education Statistics. Retrieved 2007-03-12. 
  3. ^ "About SVU & Enrollment Statistics". Southern Virginia University. Retrieved 2007-04-09. 
  4. ^ a b Admissions - New Freshman
  5. ^ "SVU Scholarships". Southern Virginia University. Retrieved 2006-07-11. 
  6. ^ a b "History of Southern Virginia University". Southern Virginia University. Retrieved 2006-07-11.  Additional copy of history.
  7. ^ Southern Virginia University (2000-02-23). "Utah Family Donates Prime Real Estate to Southern Virginia College". Press release. Retrieved 2006-07-11. 
  8. ^ Southern Virginia University (2000-05-15). "SVC Receives Preaccreditation Status". Press release. Retrieved 2006-07-11. 
  9. ^ current SVU accreditation information from the school
  10. ^ Southern Virginia University (2000-04-17). "SVC changes name to SVU". Press release. Retrieved 2006-07-11. 
  11. ^ SVU Catalog - Graduation Requirements
  12. ^ Southern Virginia University Review from American School Search
  13. ^ a b Southern Virginia University (March 6, 2008). "SVU Announces 10-Year Master Plan". Press release. Retrieved 2008-03-10. 
  14. ^
  15. ^ SVU Catalog - Mission
  16. ^ a b "Application Process". Southern Virginia University. Retrieved 2006-07-11.  See Part C of application (PDF) for full text of the pledge.

External links

Coordinates: 37°44′27″N 79°21′01″W / 37.740771°N 79.350343°W / 37.740771; -79.350343

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