News Release

Dryden Named Vice President of Advancement & Development

Deidra Dryden
Deidra Dryden

Buena Vista, Va. — President Bonnie H. Cordon has named Deidra Dryden Southern Virginia University’s new vice president of advancement and development, effective immediately.

“Deidra has been a pillar of Southern Virginia University since its re-establishment,” said President Cordon. “She has succeeded at so many things—teaching, coaching, leading, and developing—and has positively impacted so many lives. I’m grateful she is willing to dedicate her many talents to advancement and development as we strive to grow our university.”

While serving as the university’s athletics director for five years, Dryden has overseen significant growth and unparalleled success for Knight athletics, including securing back-to-back President’s Cups in the USA South Athletics Conference. As athletics director, Dryden has also helped advance several capital projects, including the university’s softball and tennis complexes. In this new role, Dryden will continue to serve on the President’s Council and supervise athletics. She will lead a national search committee for the university’s next athletics director in the coming weeks.  

Dryden with Gayle Smith
Deidra Dryden (left) with Gayle Smith (center) and Bill Braddy (right) at the dedication of the tennis courts

Dryden earned her bachelor’s in math education from Columbus State University and master’s in math education from James Madison University. She and her husband live in Buena Vista, Va.

“I’m so excited and grateful to build on what our previous development leads have done,” Dryden said. “When you give to something, that shows that you believe in it and its mission. We are so grateful to our donors who believe in us and this university, and I’m excited to help others understand who we are and what we do and help our university continue to grow and thrive.”

As VP of development, Dryden succeeds the university’s longest-tenured vice president, Brett Garcia, who recently accepted a management position with The Dixon Group and will depart the university in May 2024. During his tenure as VP of development, Garcia worked closely with three presidents to achieve record charitable contributions to Southern Virginia University. 

While leading development efforts, Garica also oversaw modernization efforts to the university’s giving operations, including the integration of multiple new software tools such as Salesforce—the department’s first CRM—the addition of new digital payment options, the development of a redesigned giving website, and an increased social media presence. He also led the creation of the university’s first board-of-trustees-sanctioned alumni association and conducted the three most successful annual fund campaigns in the university’s history. 

“It has been an incredible honor to work alongside my dedicated and skilled friends and colleagues at Southern Virginia University, who continue to inspire me daily,” said Garcia. “I am completely confident that Deidra is the right person to lead the development team to new levels of success going forward.”

During his nearly 15 years at Southern Virginia University, Garcia served in several leadership roles, including chief development officer, chief financial officer, chief of staff, and VP of strategy, and successfully led countless strategic university initiatives—perhaps most notably the university’s One-to-One partnership with Apple, which creates equitable access to technology by providing every student and professor with an iPad, Smart Keyboard, and Apple Pencil. Apple has recognized Southern Virginia University as an Apple Distinguished School for its adoption, implementation, and sustained excellence within this partnership.

“There are simply no words to express our undying gratitude to Brett and his family for all their countless contributions to Southern Virginia University,” said President Cordon. “Brett has been stalwart in strategically guiding the university and its growth over the past decade and a half.

“Brett has left a monumental impact on our institution that cannot be overstated, and we will feel his loss,” concluded President Cordon. “While we are certainly sad to lose him as an employee, this is not goodbye! Brett is a true Knight. He will always be part of our community and we expect him to stay involved at the university for decades to come!”