What an irresponsible article. It’s disappointing to see how this very serious issue has been characterized by Alex.
To be clear, this has nothing to do with race. It has everything to do with the administration inexplicably firing one their best faculty members and offering no justification for this decision. Andrew Von Maur is at the top of his profession, is loved by current and former students, and has found creative ways to weave faith/Adventism into every aspect of his lectures, studio classes, and tours.
Regarding Mark Moreno—I’m happy this was brought this up, although I’m once again disappointed in the framing Alex chose to use. The issue with Mark Moreno is he is openly hostile toward Adventism and has disparaged the teachings/beliefs of our denomination within his classroom. As parents, I think it’s only reasonable to ask that faculty at an Adventist university would support and affirm the beliefs of the Seventh-day Adventist Church. That doesn’t mean there isn’t room for a thoughtful discussion, but at a minimum Andrews University shouldn’t be employing full-time faculty members that hold distinctly different religious beliefs and then allow them to use their bully pulpit to attack Adventism.
Andrew Von Maur took the biblical approach as outlined in Matthew 18:15 to discus this issue with Mark Moreno and was subsequently labeled as being ‘uncollegial’ by the administration.
With that as context, it’s important to understand that the newly appointed chair of the architecture department then decided to remove Andrew Von Maur from the architecture tour he’s been leading in Europe for 15 years and give it to Mark Moreno. Under Andrew’s care, that tour not only celebrated meaningful architecture, but thoughtfully wove in themes of the Great Controversy into every aspect of the experience. As you can imagine, Mark Moreno has a very different approach—an approach that you might expect at any secular university.
I simply can’t understand how that decision is justifiable by Andrews University.
And finally, I want to leave a comment on Christon. I happen to live in the Berrien Springs area, and over the last 5 years I’ve heard of at least six good faculty members that were fired from Andrews University by Christon without cause. I even heard a former high-level administrator (who is now retired) say, “you don’t want to get on Christon’s bad side or your gone”. I don’t want to speculate on Christon’s agenda, but it’s clear that he doesn’t treat people in a Christ-like manner, and in my opinion he not only shouldn’t be made president, he should be let go from Andrews University in any capacity. And this has nothing to do with race. In fact, I didn’t even realize Christon wasn’t white until very recently and well after I reached out to the administration with my concerns.
For what it’s worth, my wife and I are alumni of Andrews University (we both loved our time there) and we are parents of two high-school aged students. We live 20 minutes from Andrews University and have always assumed that’s where our kids would go. Well, a few weeks ago we took a tour at Southern. My son is feeling certain that’s where he will go, and my daughter will more-than-likely do the same.
Let’s not let Andrews University off the hook by using simple platitudes and blaming racism for everything. I recognize racism is an issue and we still have a lot of work to do in this area, but it’s clear something else is broken when a faculty member like Andrew Von Maur is fired. He is the epitome of what our Adventist institutions should be looking for—people who are at the top of their profession, great teachers, love Jesus, and are passionate about the Adventist message.