The Blog @
Southern Virginia University
  1. Corps of Discovery

    August 20, 2014

    This week marks the 240th birthday of Meriwether Lewis, who along with William Clark, went on an expedition to explore the area west of the Mississippi River.

    President Thomas Jefferson charged Lewis and Clark to find out what lay in the West. “The expedition was meant to prepare the way for the extension of the American fur trade and to advance geographical knowledge.”

    That was 210 years ago.

    Lewis and Clark were both from Virginia — Lewis was born in Albemarle County and Clark in Caroline County. In 1793, Lewis graduated from Liberty Hall (now Washington and Lee University) in Lexington, Va. Clark was like most young people of the age — he was tutored at home.

    William Clark

    William Clark (

    meriwether Lewis

    Meriwether Lewis (student

    While fighting in the Northwest Indian War, Clark began the lifelong habit of keeping a diary. (Read his diary of the Corps of Discovery, along with other records of the journey.) He also served as Lewis’ commanding officer in the Army. When Lewis was tapped by Thomas Jefferson to lead the Corps of Discovery, Lewis appointed Clark as his co-commander.

    On May 14, 1804, Lewis and Clark and their company left Camp River Dubois, just north of St. Louis, at the Mississippi and Missouri rivers. The company consisted of “27 young, unmarried soldiers, a French-Indian interpreter, and Clark’s Black slave York.” They averaged 15 miles a day as they traveled up the strong Missouri River. By October, they had reached present-day North Dakota and built the over-winter Fort Mandan. It was here that Toussaint Charbonneau was hired, and he brought his Shoshoni Indian wife, Sacagawea, and her baby son, Jean Baptiste.


    NC Wyeth painting

    After crossing Montana, the Corps was stuck at Great Falls for over a month. They crossed the Bitterroots and arrived “nearly starved” at the Clearwater River in Idaho. From there, the Corps floated down the Clearwater, Snake and Columbia rivers, reaching the Pacific Ocean in November 1805.

    “Lewis and Clark made significant additions to the zoological and botanical knowledge of the continent, providing the first scientific descriptions of many new species of animals, including the grizzly bear, prairie dog, pronghorn antelope, and mountain goat.” Lewis and Clark traveled over 8,000 miles in less than 2 1/2 years, for a cost to the taxpayer of $40,000.

    National Park Service Interactive Lewis and Clark Map

    After the expedition, Clark returned to Fincastle in Botetourt County and married Miss Julia Hancock of Santillane. He served as Missouri Territorial Governor. Lewis served as governor of the Louisiana Territory.



    “Lewis and Clark” they are now known — almost inseparable in our history. Many things are named after them — banks, libraries, a university. But what the Corps of Discovery really gave us was an understanding of the enormity of the new Louisiana Purchase.

    Some Von Canon Library resources about Lewis and Clark:

    Jefferson’s West : a journey with Lewis and Clark by†James P. Ronda

    F 592.7 .R655 2000

    Undaunted courage : Meriwether Lewis, Thomas Jefferson, and the opening of the American West by Stephen E. Ambrose

    F 592.7 .A49 1996

    Lewis and Clarksí Tempest: The ëperfect stormí of November 1805, Oregon, USA.

    by: Knapp, Paul A.

    Holocene. Jun2011

    The Northern Great Plains as Viewed by the Lewis and Clark Expedition

    by: Kirby, Don

    Rangelands, 10/1/2010

    Sett Out Verry Eairly Wensdy’: The Spelling and Grammar in the Lewis and Clark Journals

    by: Davis, Lawrence M.

    American Speech. 2000.

    (Post by Melissa Davis.)

  2. Highlights from Last Year’s Speeches

    August 14, 2014

    One of the great opportunities at Southern Virginia is to attend the awesome weekly forums and devotionals. Some of these speeches are super inspirational and I’m excited to attend them during the upcoming semester. In the meantime, I thought I’d share some highlights from last year. Here are short snippets from just four speeches. You can, of course, always listen to all the speeches at

    Orson Scott Card

    Professor of Writing and Literature, Southern Virginia University

    “Literature, Logic, and the Scientific Method”

    Devotional | October 18, 2013

    “God says over and over again: Prove me! Test me! Perform this experiment! … But Korihor always wants to get the results without performing the experiment. Korihor always says, ‘Show me a sign.’ And you go, ‘You’ll have your sign if you live the law.’ That’s all. That’s all you have to do. Perform the experiment in your own life. Obey these commandments, live your life according to this pattern, and you will find that everything is proven and borne out to you. You cannot falsify this hypothesis as long as you follow this methodology, because it’s true. We embrace the scientific method.”

    Tito Momen & Jeff Benedict

    Authors of “My Name Used to Be Muhammad: The True Story of a Muslim Who Became a Christian”

    “Tito’s Story”

    Devotional | February 21, 2014

    “When he gave me the place to read, I read and I was just silent for some time because I was really hit hard. What I wanted to see was [some] kind of Islamic commandments or Ten Commandments: ‘Thou shalt not drink!’ … But this was something completely different. To me … this is a loving and kind Father counseling His own children that alcohol and hot drinks are not for the body. So, I really feel touched, and instead of me challenging him, now I just ask him. I wanted to know more from him about the Church.”

    Bill Bolling

    Lieutenant Governor of Virginia

    “Painting the Picture of Your Life”

    Forum | October 25, 2013

    “I would challenge each of you today, as you begin painting this picture of your life, to set lofty goals and dream big dreams for your life, and then work hard every day to achieve those goals and live those dreams. Don’t limit yourself because the only one that can put limitations upon you is you. The truth is, if your mind can conceive it and you can believe it, you can achieve it if you simply work hard every day to achieve those goals and live those dreams. … I want you to be masters of your destiny not victims of your circumstances.”

    Terryl Givens

    James A. Bostwick Chair in English, University of Richmond

    “Why We Know More than We Think (but Less than We Want)”

    Devotional | November 1, 2013

    “You may ask, ‘But what am I objectively?’ My point is that the qualifier is meaningless. Does a camera, a DNA sequencer, and a full spectrum lab report provide the truest, the richest account of who I am? Or do my spouse and children? Love does not blur the reality behind the appearances, it reveals it. … The human impulse towards the sublime and the artist’s revelation of the beautiful, love’s power to unlock the full splendor of the other, its blinding revelation of the infinite worth of the individual, and conscience with its unwavering response to moral imperatives, its blaring protest against evil and gentle enticement to recognize the good—all of these are living proofs that different ways of knowing exist. We employ them. We rely upon them. And we should.”

    (Post by Alec Johnson ’14.)

  3. Zion’s Camp 2014: Week Two

    August 5, 2014

    This past week, about forty young men and women attended another session of Zion’s Camp, a high adventure mission preparation camp held every summer by Southern Virginia University. These youth taught progressing investigators, attended district and zone meetings, participated in activities like hiking into the Blue Ridge Mountains, read a lot of scriptures, and got to develop useful skills like cooking their own meals and sewing on their own buttons. Everything they did, of course, they did in companionships just like full-time missionaries. All of these activities helped them to prepare for missionary service by helping them feel the Spirit and teaching them that they could do hard things.

    These were great young men and women and they learned a lot. The future of missionary work is in superb hands.

    (Post by Alec Johnson ’14. Photos by Bryce Rothlisberger ’15 and Jordan Wunderlich ’16.)

  4. Alumni Association Fundraiser and Essay Contest

    August 1, 2014

    The Southern Virginia University Alumni Association (SVUAA) is sponsoring a fundraiser in the form of an essay contest for all Southern Virginia alumni. By participating in this contest, alumni have the opportunity to give back to their alma mater, share about some of their most meaningful experiences at Southern Virginia, and enter to win an all-expense-paid trip for two to Homecoming this year.

    The Fundraiser

    In order to enter the essay contest, alumni must do one of the following:

    • Contribute a one-time donation of $50 (be sure to enter “SVUAA Essay Contest” in the comments section)
    • Sign up for the Alumni Association’s 5-Buck-a-Month program (select “Alumni Association,” then “5 buck (or more) a month program,” then indicate the amount — at least $5 — that you would like to have debited from your account each month)

    Alumni who already participate in the 5-Buck-a-Month program will not be required to make any additional donations. All funds raised through this essay contest will go toward improving Southern Virginia’s classrooms. These improvements could include installing new whiteboards, purchasing and installing projectors, painting, and other physical improvements that will help the university better meet the needs of all current and future students.

    The Essay

    Entrants for this essay will have 500 words or fewer to write on one of the topics below:

    • Write about a specific Southern Virginia course or professor who made an unmistakable impact on your life.
    • Describe a memory you have that you feel is quintessentially Southern Virginia — that takes you back to all you love and remember about your time spent there.
    • Southern Virginia has experienced amazing growth in the past 18 years. How do you picture the school 20 years from now? What do you think will change? What do you hope will stay the same?

    Please email your completed essay to by Aug. 22, 2014. All essays must be written in English. Include with the essay: your full name, your graduation year, your state or providence of residence, and a current photo of yourself. Entries will be judged by the Alumni Association Executive Council and the winner will be announced on September 5, 2014.

    The Prize

    The author of the winning essay, as determined by the Alumni Association Executive Council, will receive the following:

    • Two roundtrip plane tickets to this year’s Homecoming (Oct. 10-12, 2014)
    • Lodging for the duration of Homecoming
    • A rental car for use during Homecoming
    • A $300 gift card for food and miscellaneous expenses
    • The winning essay published on the official Southern Virginia University blog and social media platforms

    Authors of the second and third place essays will receive:

    • Gift cards to the Southern Virginia Campus Bookstore ($50 for second, $20 for third)
    • Their essays published on the official Southern Virginia University blog

    The Fine Print

    • Alumni who elect to participate in the 5-Buck-a-Month program agree to remain in the program for at least ten months, or until $50 of donations have been contributed.
    • Southern Virginia University is a Section 501(c)3 nonprofit and your gift may qualify as a charitable deduction for federal income tax purposes. Please consult a tax adviser or the IRS to determine the how much of your contribution is deductible.
    • All submitted essays become the property of the Southern Virginia University Alumni Association. By submitting an essay in this contest, entrants give the Alumni Association permission to use, alter, distribute, publish, broadcast, and display the submitted essay, the entrant’s name, and the submitted photo and residential information on the Southern Virginia University website or blog, elsewhere on the Internet, in advertising and promotional materials, and in any other format for purposes related to the Alumni Association.
    • The first-place winner will receive two tickets to and from an airport near Buena Vista, Va. We will make every effort to accommodate anyone who wins, no matter where in the world he or she lives. However, winners in remote locations  may be required to provide their own transportation to and from a major international airport. Should any major complicating circumstances arise (e.g. war, major strikes, natural disasters) in or near any locations the winner may need to travel through, we may not be able to complete travel arrangements as expected. However, we promise to make every reasonable effort to get the winner here, at our expense, no matter where his or her journey may start or end.
    • Plane tickets will be purchased to bring the winner in on Friday, Oct. 10, 2014 and fly the winner back home on Sunday, October 12, 2014. If necessary, we might be able to accommodate winners who would like to fly in earlier or stay longer; however, we cannot guarantee this as an option. No matter what the final dates are for the plane tickets, lodging and a rental car will be provided only during the duration of Homecoming.
    • In the event that the winning entrant lives close enough to Buena Vista that a plane ticket is not necessary, the winner has the option to forego the plane ticket and accept in its place a $50 gift card to the Southern Virginia University bookstore. All other prizes would remain as listed above.

    (Post by the Alumni Association Executive Council.)

  5. Travel Study in Italy

    July 28, 2014

    This summer, a group of students set off from Buena Vista and traveled to Italy to study the Renaissance in a ten-day academic adventure. The group, led by Professor Crawford, visited not only the bustling cities of Rome, Florence, Venice and Milan, but also small country towns such as Spello, giving students first hand exposure to both the vivacious life and architecture of ancient Italian cities and the quiet culture of the Italian countryside.

    Along with the range of cultural experiences that the Italian adventurers gained, they saw in person some of the most revered and iconic pieces of art in the world, ranging from sculptures by Bernini and Michelangelo to Brunelleschi’s Duomo in Florence.

    (Post by Tamsin Himes. Photos by Travel Study participants.)