Bonnie H. Cordon named new president of Southern Virginia University

The former Young Women general president, who finished her general Church service on Aug. 1, will serve as the university’s 10th president

Bonnie H. Cordon, former Young Women general president for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, will serve as Southern Virginia University’s 10th president effective immediately, university officials announced Friday, Oct. 13.

Sister Cordon, who completed seven years of service as a general officer for the Church on Aug. 1, succeeds Reed N. Wilcox — the university’s longest-tenured president — who has served at the university since 2014.

In the press release accompanying the announcement, Sister Cordon shared that she is “thrilled with the honor and privilege” of serving as the university’s next president.  

“With its rich history of outstanding leadership, I am committed to building upon this university’s legacy with faith in Christ and wholehearted enthusiasm for the future,” she said.

Bonnie H. Cordon, former Young Women general president, poses for a photo on the Southern Virginia University campus in Buena Vista, Virginia.
Bonnie H. Cordon, former Young Women general president, poses for a photo on the Southern Virginia University campus in Buena Vista, Virginia. Sister Cordon was named the university’s 10th president on Oct. 13, 2023. | Southern Virginia University

Located in Buena Vista, Virginia, in the Shenandoah Valley, Southern Virginia University is a private four-year liberal arts college. Although not owned by the Church, the university strives to align with the Church’s values and teachings. “We gather faithful Latter-day Saints and like-minded students,” the website states.

Sustained as a counselor in the Primary general presidency in 2016 and then as Young Women general president in 2018, Sister Cordon served through a significant season for the Church, including responding to the COVID-19 pandemic, the implementation of the Children and Youth program and the creation of a new Young Women theme, as well as the updated “For the Strength of Youth” standards guide.

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University Chairman L. Hugh Redd said Sister Cordon comes to the position at a pivotal time in the history of Southern Virginia University. “Her unique experience, along with her insight and understanding of the needs of today’s rising generation, particularly qualify her for this role. We are fortunate to have President Cordon leading us at this time and we are thrilled about this next chapter in our university’s legacy,” he said in the press release.

Although Sister Cordon is admittedly “just getting my toes wet,” she told the Church News she’s been amazed by the “miracle journey” the university has been on and the unique education the university provides to students. “This university is a hidden gem,” she said.

The rigorous academics, competitive sports teams and “world-class professors” have all impressed her, in addition to its location. “You’re in the shadow of some of our country’s greatest events,” she commented.

What has really tugged at her heartstrings, however, has been the students and their desire to learn within the light of the gospel of Jesus Christ. “What has been most remarkable is that the faculty, the staff and all of the students have deep faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and are studying with that light and knowledge,” she said.

A portrait of Young Women General President Bonnie H. Cordon.
Young Women General President Bonnie H. Cordon. | The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

In 2018, President Russell M. Nelson told the youth they have the capacity to be smarter and wiser than any previous generation (“Hope of Israel,” Worldwide Youth Devotional, June 3, 2018). “That’s a remarkable statement from a Prophet,” Sister Cordon said, “but those young people he was talking about are the same young people that are walking the halls of Southern Virginia University.” 

To observe students have an impact and share the light of the gospel of Jesus Christ into professions, careers, family and community, “I’m excited to watch that. And so for me, I just am grateful to continue to be part of their miracles,” Sister Cordon said.

Laura Whiteley, trustee and chair of the university’s presidential search committee, said committee members felt help from heaven in searching out the right candidate.

Redd expressed his appreciation to outgoing President Wilcox and the interim president, Eric Denna. “Building on the foundation and vision of her predecessors, we look forward to following and supporting President Cordon as she leads us into the future.” 

Besides serving as both a first and second counselor in the Primary general presidency and as Young Women general president, Sister Cordon served with her husband, Derek Cordon, as mission leaders in Curitiba, Brazil. Sister Cordon graduated from Brigham Young University with a bachelor’s degree in education, pursued a management career in the software industry and started her own business. She is a mother of four and grandmother of seven.

A presidential inauguration will be planned and announced at a future date, according to the press release.

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