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Conard N. Rees

Photo courtesy of Southern Adventist University.

Rees, Conard N. (1908–1976)

By Dennis Pettibone


Dennis Pettibone, Ph.D. (University of California, Riverside), is professor emeritus of history at Southern Adventist University. He and his first wife, Carol Jean Nelson Pettibone (now deceased) have two grown daughters. He is now married to the former Rebecca Aufderhar. His published writings include A Century of Challenge: the Story of Southern College and the second half of His Story in Our Time.

First Published: October 4, 2020

Conard N. Rees was a coach, dean, professor, school superintendent, high school principal, and college president. He was born in Mount Vernon, Ohio on September 12, 1908.1 At that time, his father, David Dee Rees2 (1871-1949), was head of the English department at Mount Vernon College.3 Conrad's mother was Anna Miller Rees.4

Conard Rees graduated from Union College with an English major in 1931 and later received an M.A. and then a Ph.D. from the University of Nebraska. His doctorate was in school administration. Before he started working in the Seventh-day Adventist educational system, this sports-loving young adult was employed by the Nebraska public school system as an athletic coach, a high school principal and a school superintendent. At one time he was the city of Lincoln's tennis champion.5

In 1937 he married Fae Cowin.6 Conard and Fae Rees had one son, David Rees.7

Denominational Service

The record of his denominational service begins when he was dean of boys8 and social studies teacher at Shenandoah Valley Academy.9 His next position was principal and social studies teacher at Takoma Academy10 from 1941 to 1945. At this time Takoma Academy classes met in the basement of Columbia Hall on the campus of Washington Missionary College (WMC), now Washington Adventist University.11 Then he moved across campus12 to head the WMC education department.13 In 1952  became the academic dean of the college and moved back into Columbia Hall, "the seat of government" where the WMC administrative offices were located.14

In 1954 Rees became president of Southwestern Junior College,15 now Southwestern Adventist University. At the Texas camp meeting that summer, he was ordained to the gospel ministry.16 A major achievement of his administration was accreditation by the regional accrediting body,17 the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.

Southern Missionary College

Rees accepted what would turn out to be his last position in 1958 when he became president of Southern Missionary College (SMC),18 now Southern Adventist University. During the Rees administration, the size of the SMC student body more than doubled.19 An exploding student population necessitated a massive campus building program. Several existing buildings were enlarged and a brand new dormitory, gymnasium, industrial arts building, and shopping center were constructed, along with a trailer park for married students and two subdivisions for faculty housing.20 A new administration building was also undertaken.21

Rees endeavored to upgrade the academic qualifications of the faculty.22 By 1966 more than one quarter of the faculty had doctoral degrees.23 SMC's regional accreditation was renewed during the Rees administration, and the nursing program received its initial accreditation. The college radio station, WSMC, increased its power to 60,000 watts,24 augmenting its influence in the Chattanooga community.25

Rees suffered a stroke in December 1966 which left him gravely ill. He retired in February 1967. The Collegedale community responded to his illness with an outpouring of sympathy. The 1967 SMC annual, Southern Memories, was dedicated to the ailing former president.26 He passed away on June 13, 1976.27

Reporting on his death, Bill May, executive secretary of the Southwestern Union Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, said, "His quiet, courteous manner and his peace loving approach to the challenges of life endeared him to [Southwestern Junior College] students, faculty and the people of the community."28 Students and faculty of Southern Missionary College had a similar evaluation. They described him as unassuming, kind, pleasant, approachable, and supportive. It was reported that he had "brought peace to a troubled campus and was beloved by students" and "appreciated by teachers." One faculty member described him as "more of a diplomat or compromiser than a dictator." It was said that he was just what he wanted his faculty to be: humble, meek, and peaceable.29


'Brief Current News." ARH, September 30, 1954.

Cossentine, E. E. "Changes in Educational Personnel." ARH, July 24, 1958.

"Deaths." ARH, September 2, 1976.

Gardner, Elva B. Southern Missionary College: A School of His Planning. Revised by J. Mable Wood. Collegedale, TN: Southern Missionary College Board of Trustees, 1975.

"Fire Changes Everything." Handbook (2014). Accessed July 11, 2021.

May, Bill. "A Report to the People." Southwestern Union Record, July 24, 1976.

"New Administration Building Announced." Southern Tidings, March 4, 1966.

Obituary, Southern Tidings, July 1976.

Pettibone, Dennis. A Century of Challenge: The Story of Southern College, 1892-1992. Collegedale, TN: The College Press, 1992.

Riley, Sabrina. "Rees, David Dee (1871-1949)." Accessed July 18, 2021.

Seventh-day Adventist Encyclopedia. Second revised edition. Hagerstown, MD: Review and Herald Publishing Association, 1996. S.v. "Columbia Union College" and “Takoma Academy.”

Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook, 1940, 1941.

"Southern Union." ARH, April 17, 1967, 18, July 6, 1967.

"Southern Missionary College." Southern Tidings, December 9, 1966.

Washington Missionary College, Golden Memories, 1940.

Wearner, R.G. "Texas Camp Meeting." ARH, August 12, 1954.


  1. Obituary, Southern Tidings, July 1976, 31

  2. Elva B. Gardner, Southern Missionary College: A School of His Planning, revised by J. Mabel Wood (Collegedale Tennessee: Southern Missionary College Board of Trustees, 1975), 266.

  3. Seventh-day Adventist Encyclopedia (1996), s.v. “Rees, David Dee."

  4. Sabrina Riley, "Rees, David Dee (1871-1949)," accessed July 18, 2021,

  5. Dennis Pettibone, A Century of Challenge: The Story of Southern College, 1892-1992 (Collegedale TN: The College Press, 1992), 211-212; Obituary, Southern Tidings, loc. cit.

  6. Gardner, 266.

  7. Obituary, Southern Tidings.

  8. Ibid.

  9. Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook (1940), 284.

  10. Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook (1941), 292.

  11. Seventh-day Adventist Encyclopedia (1996), s.v. "Takoma Academy."

  12. Ibid., s.v. "Columbia Union College."

  13. Obituary, Southern Tidings.

  14. Ibid.; Washington Missionary College, Golden Memories, 1940, 10; Seventh-day Adventist Encyclopedia (1996), s.v. "Columbia Union College."

  15. "Brief Current News," ARH, September 30, 1954, 20.

  16. R. G. Wearner, "Texas Camp Meeting," ARH, August 12, 1954, 19.

  17. Bill May, "A Report to the People," Southwestern Union Record, July 24, 1976, 6.

  18. E. E. Cossentine, "Changes in Educational Personnel," ARH, July 24, 1958, 32.

  19. "Fire Changes Everything," accessed July 11, 2021,

  20. Pettibone, 205-209.

  21. "New Administration Building Announced," Southern Tidings, March 4, 1966, 15.

  22. Gardner, 212.

  23. "Southern Missionary College," Southern Tidings, December 9, 1966, 10.

  24. Obituary, Southern Tidings.

  25. Pettibone, 276.

  26. Ibid., 212; "Southern Union," ARH, April 17, 1967, 18 and July 6, 1967, 23.

  27. "Deaths," ARH, September 2, 1976, 31.

  28. May, 6.

  29. Pettibone, 212.


Pettibone, Dennis. "Rees, Conard N. (1908–1976)." Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists. October 04, 2020. Accessed June 18, 2024.

Pettibone, Dennis. "Rees, Conard N. (1908–1976)." Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists. October 04, 2020. Date of access June 18, 2024,

Pettibone, Dennis (2020, October 04). Rees, Conard N. (1908–1976). Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists. Retrieved June 18, 2024,