Inaugural Founder’s Day Forum Celebrates Glade Knight and Southern Virginia University

Founders Forum at SVU
Glade & Kathleen Knight

Wearing crimson and white, the Southern Virginia University community gathered on Friday, March 8, for the inaugural Founder’s Day Forum to celebrate founder Glade Knight and the continued growth and impact of the university on students’ lives.

Addressing the university community, Knight recounted the events and spiritual experiences that led him to purchase Southern Virginia University to serve Latter-day Saints and like minded students. Sharing examples of the pivotal role that spiritual promptings had in launching the university in just two months, Knight encouraged students to look for the Spirit’s guidance in their own lives.

“Each individual matters, and you have no idea what you can accomplish. You have no idea what the Lord has in store for you,” said Knight. “So my request on this first Founder’s Day is that you become closer and closer to the Lord and Savior. And when you make a decision, don’t just do it intellectually, follow the Spirit, no matter how impossible it might seem.”

Glade Knight
Glade Knight

In celebration of Founder’s Day, Southern Virginia University hosted an essay contest prior to the event for students to share how the university had impacted their lives. The two winners then read their essays at the forum. Joanna Porter (‘24), a business and Spanish major with an economics minor and a finance concentration, shared her experience of learning to do hard things at the university through the support of professors and friends.

“To me, Southern Virginia is all of those little monumental moments,” Porter said. “Southern Virginia University isn’t just my school, it is the place where I learned who I am and who I want to be. It is the place that taught me that I can do hard things. It is the place that taught me how to be brave. It is a place that has changed me forever and has changed me for the better.” 

Founder's Forum
Joanna Porter (’24)

Psychology major Mikaera Puriri (‘25) shared how being at Southern Virginia provided him with support when his father unexpectedly passed away in December 2023, recounting several miracles that happened due to his roommate, President Cordon, friends, and coaches.

“For the last three months, I have seen Christ’s arms of mercy and love wrapped around me. I have felt that through the people here at Southern Virginia University,” Puriri said. “I’m grateful to know that I was in the right place, at the right time, with the right people. 

“It couldn’t have been anywhere else,” Puriri continued. “It had to be here. This is just one of the many experiences I’ve had here at this university that have strengthened my belief that Jesus Christ is my Savior and my Redeemer.”

Founder's Day Forum
Mikaera Puriri (’25)

Sharing the New Testament story of the apostles listening to Christ’s call to cast their fishing nets on the other side of the boat, President Cordon highlighted Glade Knight’s ability to listen to the Spirit and subsequently impact the campus community through his decision to follow his promptings and create the university. 

“Now we’re celebrating Founder’s Day today, and we all rejoice in the fact that Glade listened to the Spirit and bought a university, and as such we are here,” President Cordon said. “We can give opportunities to other people who want a place where they can come, learn, grow, and become more. We together as Knights will have the capacity to change the world for good.” 

The event featured a vocal solo of “The Impossible Dream” by Ezekiel Gonzales (‘26), accompanied by Julia Evans (‘24). At the conclusion of the event, a combined choir of the Chamber Singers, Bella Voce, and Men’s Chorus performed the American folk song “Oh Shenandoah,” directed by Associate Professor of Music Kyle Nielsen. 

To commemorate the event, President Cordon took a selfie with Glade and Kathleen Knight and their extended family members in attendance with the campus community.

Founder's Day Forum
Glade & Kathleen Knight and President Cordon together with the campus community