A Crossroads in Adventist Education: Our Next Steps

Higher education is in tumult across the nation, and Adventist universities are no exception. They face troubling enrollment numbers, financial turmoil, critics, and doubters. Andrea Luxton, former president of Andrews University, has recently taken on roles within the North American Division as the associate director for higher education and the executive director of the Association of Adventist Colleges and Universities. She discussed some of these challenges, as well as some of the possible roads forward, in a recent conversation with Spectrum.

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at https://spectrummagazine.org/interviews/2023/crossroads-adventist-education-our-next-steps
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Lots of talk about the financial aspects, collaboration between colleges, attracting great staff. But attracting more students to what, exactly? Education done the same old, same old? Nothing here about looking at successful schools and what they are doing educationally to provide a superior experience and outcome for the students. If a school provides what parents and students want, there will be waiting lists and eager competition to get in, from the kindergarten level to the post-grad level. Do some “comparison shopping” and find out what is bringing kids in - these are simple, basic business practices. Adventist schools can’t rely on the loyalty feeder system any more.

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Perhaps because, by definition-and short of the 2nd Coming-there is no way to determine if there are any “successful” Adventist schools.

IOW, it was my understanding (and to an even greater degree the belief of my parents who were footing the bill) that Adventist schools were all prep schools. Not necessarily for a higher education but the objective was preparing the student for the compulsory final examination which all Adventists assume must be passed in order to obtain entry into heaven.

Whether or not any SDA school adequately and repeatedly achieved that goal will only be answered by Jesus upon his immediate-or at least relatively soon-return to this planet.


BTW, there is another metric for measuring how well an Adventist school is doing. That is to tally the number of students expelled on a routine basis, the assumption being that higher numbers are better, even if a “good” rating is obviously and necessarily “bad” from a business plan POV.

I know this is about improving revenue for all participating higher educational institution. In any case, regarding collaboration, would it be possible for religion and theology faculty of participating schools to form a consortium of sorts so that their respective majors (students) could have a choice of supplementing their academic experience by means of cross-mentorship in partnership with faculty from the other campuses? There are several ways such collaboration could be implemented. Such as, among other things, students writing their thesis (at the AU seminary) could possibly benefit from the expertise of other faculty from participating schools, by invitation from the school or department, to assist or even direct the completion of the student’s research project.

Emphasize holistic education key to Adventist education - Intellectual and spiritual. Knowledge, discipline and moral compass for life… Maintain the key metrics to measure success - Employment on graduation. … WAU is currently very affordable. Church members be more supportive of Adventist education in their words - even if they are unable to support it financially and prefer to send their children elsewhere. Education moved many Adventists from poverty to become leaders and contributors to society.

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