It is not very often you have an opportunity to work with someone who checks pretty much all the boxes in terms of their work ethic and love for the Lord.

For 10 years I have had the opportunity to work with Dr. Vinita Sauder as president of Union College in Lincoln, Nebraska.

She has a brilliant mind, incredible work ethic, is a visionary, is gracious and kind, and above all, loves the Lord and the Seventh-day Adventist Church. She has led us through some of the most difficult years for our school, as it has had to deal with Covid 19 and a demographic which shows fewer young people are out there to attend higher education.

But despite all this, she has led our school with excellence and a heart of gold.

As a result of her leadership, we have a new fitness center for our students, several new graduate programs, and a new name as of May 5, 2024—Union Adventist University—just to share a few highlights.

We have been unbelievably blessed to have her as our college president.

As she has chosen to retire, we needed to begin a new search last year for a new leader for our school. As we began our search, many, many people prayed throughout the whole process of selecting our next leader for Union Adventist University.

We prayed for someone

who foremost loves the Lord and is excited to be a part of the Adventist Church and its mission. We needed someone who had experience with higher education, who could articulate the beauty of and need for Adventist education, and someone who loved our young people and wanted to help them know our Savior and prepare them for a life of service.

We believe the Lord has answered our prayers as our search led us to Dr. Yami Bazan, who is currently the associate dean for the school of medicine at Loma Linda University in California.

Dr. Bazan comes to us with a rich background of working with young adults in a church setting, as a conference youth director, and in two separate higher education settings as well.

She is known as someone who is a visionary and works well even in difficult situations.

I ask that we all pray for Dr. Sauder as she begins a new chapter in her life and Dr. Bazan as she will soon be with us as the next president of Union Adventist University.


Gary Thurber is president of the Mid-America Union Conference headquartered in Lincoln, Nebraska, and chair of the Union College/Union Adventist University Board of Trustees.