News Release

Southern Virginia to Host 17th Annual Education Conference June 7-8

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The 17th Annual Southern Virginia University Education Conference, with presenters including Elder Marlin K. Jensen, a member of the First Quorum of the Seventy of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and Julie B. Beck, former general president of the Relief Society of the Church, will be held Friday and Saturday, June 7–8, on the university’s campus in Buena Vista, Va.

The conference will feature two days of presentations on the theme, “Rejoice, the Heavens are Open.” Held in the historic Shenandoah Valley, the annual conference also features other activities and entertainment, including the Southern Virginia Theatre Program’s production of the musical “Babes in Arms.”

“It was incredible,” said a previous attendee of the conference on an anonymous survey. “I feel totally blessed for being [at Southern Virginia] the past two days, especially to be able to attend with my wonderful eternal companion of 40 years. I wish we had this knowledge and understanding many years ago.“

In addition to Elder Jensen and Julie B. Beck, this year’s presenters include Lee Donaldson, manager of proselyting services in the Church’s Missionary Department, who previously served as president of the California San Diego Mission and global director of Leadership Development for the Church. Donaldson also has 26 years of experience as a teacher and administrator in the Church Educational System. Two full-time Institute of Religion instructors, Dr. Ronald E Bartholomew and Dr. Matthew Rasmussen also will give presentations on topics associated with the conference’s theme.

“I can’t think of a topic that excites me more than the topic of the heavens being open, angels ministering, and the Holy Ghost bearing witness of the Father and the Son,” said Kathleen Knight, who has organized the conference since its inception in 1997. “Each presenter in their own way will talk about revelation. One will be talking about how missionaries teach by the power of inspiration and one about how we do our callings, another will talk about parenting with revelation. Receiving revelation is critical in our time and it’s such a blessing to know that is available to us.”

Other presenters will include Todd Brotherson, assistant professor of business at Southern Virginia; Dr. Kaye T. Hanson, a retired management communications professor at Brigham Young University; Glade M. Knight, founder, chairman, and CEO of the Apple REIT companies and chair of the Southern Virginia board of trustees; and Paul K. Sybrowsky, president of Southern Virginia and former member of the Second Quorum of the Seventy of the Church.

“I would love to see more people coming to take advantage of this conference,” said another conference attendee. “This conference has provided answers to my prayers and great food for thought. I’m 28 and single and have a renewed sense of purpose and direction in strengthening and supporting families and preparing for my own someday.”

The conference will feature fine and performing artists including James Oneil Miner, a popular pianist, composer and entertainer; Mark Taylor, a violinist and assistant professor of music at Southern Virginia; and Leslie Graff, an artist whose work is characterized by organic themes, repeating patterns and expressive color.

In addition to the entertainment provided, many conference attendees take advantage of highlights in the area including scenic views at the Blue Ridge Parkway, historic sites in nearby Lexington, Va., and Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello — located one hour away from the university’s campus.

Full biographies of each presenter and registration information are available at