Brett Hadley is a professor and the Communication Chair at Southwestern Adventist University (SWAU). The former communication chairman, as well as all professors, left or retired at the end of the 2020 school year, putting the department in a critical and frantic transition. SWAU wanted to find a suitable candidate for the chair, and the school officials saw Hadley's enthusiasm and love for theater and filmmaking, and this lead them to offer him the job, which he gladly accepted.
Hadley began his career as a teacher, then went on to become an ordained minister and pastor before returning to teaching in the art department. Hadley has directed over 20 shows and worked on a crew that designed the ship's sets featured in multiple Pirates of the Caribbean films, providing him skills that he continues to use. Before coming to SWAU, Hadley worked for seven years at Union College in Lincoln, Nebraska, where he was a professor of theater and emerging media.
COVID-19 brought a decline in enrollment and a loss of 200 students resulted in the elimination of the theater department which accounted for two-thirds of Hadley’s job. “I was two years without a job. It was one of those situations where you know you’re called to be a teacher, you know you’re called to educational ministry but, you decide to take a job at Walmart,” Hadley shared.
Most of his ministry experiences have been in theater, which inspired him to pursue an M.F.A. Hadley has lost jobs due to schools closing, but every time, right when it was about to happen, the next job opened up. He now has a profession that he enjoys and can teach what he loves.
“It sounds so cheesy, but my proudest accomplishment is the next group of students I am working with. Forever my life is different because I talk to my students, and we would have never met if I would’ve never come here. This is eternal,” Hadley said.
Hadley's hobbies include model rocketry, sketching, photography, guitar playing, and sign language. Most people are unaware that he used to play professional miniature golf. He came close to winning the nationals but had to withdraw because the games were held on Sabbath.
Hadley constantly tries his best to analyze his students' requirements and then modify things to match those needs to help them develop their skills. “Mr. Hadley is willing to try new things and is conventional. He is open to doing things outside of the box,” said Allison Hill, communication professor at SWAU.
Valerie Pichot, a senior communication major, works with Hadley as a student worker for the communication department. She assures us that Hadley is committed to expand and develop the SWAU Communication program. He spends time and effort building a new agenda based on a practical assessment of student and department needs.
“He wants to build the program in a way that prepares students for the real world and meets the students where they’re at,” Pichot stated. Pichot affirms that Hadley is one of the greatest individuals she has ever worked for. He is always entertaining and honest, and when work needs to be done, he will not hesitate to delegate tasks to her.
“Hadley is regarded as a visionary and a go-getter, which is an unusual yet potent combination,” Pichot commented.