Andrews University Board Faces Presidential Choice

The Andrews University board of trustees votes on the Adventist institution’s next president this Tuesday, March 7. Eight sources representing students, faculty, staff, and alumni expressed worries about one of the candidates. Fearing retribution, most spoke on the condition of anonymity. They expressed concerns that the board, influenced by a deluge of email and online agita regarding a single departmental fight and anti-inclusion attacks on the current administration, could install an underqualified candidate.


This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at http://spectrummagazine.org/node/12236
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This is John Wesley Taylor V’s CV that I found online: Résumé for John Wesley Taylor V (adventist.education). Here’s another CV I found online that lists some of his publications: Curriculum Vitae. John Wesley Taylor V - PDF Free Download (docplayer.net).

This is one of his dissertations titled “Self-Concept in Home-Schooling Children,” in which he shares that he was home-schooled until he attended Weimar College. Self-Concept in Home-Schooling Children (andrews.edu).

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To my knowledge, prior to his election as the second president of AU, L. Richard Hammill served as a GC associate director of education. Did Dr Hammill hold any executive position before his appointment to the top post at Andrews?

Thank you for this article, Alex. It accurately describes the situation, and it is a dire one. The provost clearly is the most qualified for the position of president, in terms of education, relevant experience, and institutional knowledge. If he is not selected as president by the Board, it will be seen by many employees as the result of the vicious and defamatory campaign against him. Three other Black men have also been the subjects of attack by Von Maur and his supporters. A cloud of racism now hangs over this process, as does the scent of General Conference politicking. Wilson has been waiting for his moment to make a move on Andrews University and no doubt sees this as a last opportunity. I pray that men and women of sound judgment will prevail in Tuesday’s Board meeting.

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What is tough for me is that reading this is a lot like reading Fox News or CNN where the article is more or less factual, but badly skewed by omission. I find Ted Wilson’s candidate hard to swallow, but I am struck by the complete absence of the concerns about Christon Arthur. All we have is this:

“…he has become the target of an email and online attack that grows out of a departmental dispute around religion, diversity, and local church politics” which is not helpful at all.

What are the things he stands for those opposed to him are concerned about? What are his views?

To really understand what is going on requires a fuller picture than is being painted.

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From an Adventist Today article: With a master’s degree from the Seventh-day Adventist Seminary and a doctorate from the University of Chicago, Dr Hammill taught biblical languages and ancient history at Southern Missionary College, served as academic dean and for a time as acting president demonstrated the wisdom and skill of an able administrator. From 1963 to 1976 he was president of Andrews University.

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I could not find Christon Arthur’s CV online, but I found this overview of his background: Meet the Provost :: Andrews University.

Some people may be surprised to learn that the principal job of the president of Andrews University is to raise money. 25 to 50 percent of his or her time should be devoted to that task. All other concerns, while important to some degree, are secondary. It’s a hard job.

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This is tragedy no matter the decision because of the train wreck brought on by the combination of forces (voices) involved. Wilson’s power grab combined withe the village churches extremism could destroy Andrew’s standing as a University. I shake my head and pray cooler heads prevail and trustees be willing to oppose such destructive ideas.

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It has been my hope for some time that progressive SDA educational institutions and the SDA healthcare systems would serve as a boundary to the further encroachment of radical conservative elements in the church toward theological, administrative control. A wrong vote here would be a definitive step backwards. As far as I’m concerned, anybody previously associated with Weimar should have been rejected out of hand. This just demonstrates, once more, Ted Wilson’s overreach and continued attempts to power-grab. Recall, that recently, he was instrumental in replacing educators with church administrators on the denomination’s credentialing board…a complete travesty.

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This is a train wreck. GC leadership does not need another branding beside misogyny–racial insensitivity. Do we want Andrews to be Liberty University? Incredible.

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@gford1 Thanks for the additional info on Dr Hammill.

Regarding John Wesley Taylor V

1995-2002 Professor, Associate Dean, and Director of Doctoral Programs, School of Graduate Studies,Adventist International Institute of Advanced Studies (AIIAS), Philippines.
2003-2010 Professor and Dean, School of Education & Psychology, Southern Adventist University (SAU), USA

Mission service at AIIAS serves like a filter for our more traditionally oriented church administrators. When those who served in academia return to the U.S., following their stint at AIIAS, they may hope to be invited to come to Southern.

@JXLB75 During his stint at AIIAS, Dr Taylor was a frequent guest at the Adventist University of the Philippines. Our North America based alumni recently invited him to be their keynote speaker at an annual reunion/convention.

I dimly remember the story colported many decades ago, when a GC president flew into AU airport to attend the search committee for a new AU president - presented his man (someone not on the agenda). After this unlikely candidate was duly voted the GC president flew off with his plane again, leaving AU faculty rather puzzled as to what just happened. I am sure TW will have learned … and linger a little longer to celebrate with AU staff.

Two candidates is a rather short list, actually. Praying for AU. Lord, have mercy …

And read on the AU website that John Wesley Taylor V has been elected.

Ted, Ted, Ted, and his network of mini Teds…

Indeed, Lord have mercy.

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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.

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Dear Editor,
Thank you for affording me to be seen through my own words vs attempting to characterize my “open letter” sentiments. Your article does address a perception some may have of the underlying issues at play (dog whistle, racial bias, misinformation…). Selection of various facts and omission of counter truths may not present the full picture of issues. For many, there may be a broader matter of concern.
AU ranks at the top of U.S. News’ Most Diverse Universities, however, where does it rank among their most Spiritually Focused Universities? Is the present reformation of SDA beliefs a needed focus in contemporary times? Does the recent petition by AU students to the chaplaincy office for more spiritual emphasis vs a presentation on “The Religion of Whiteness” a pattern of concerns? Is the growing choice by students (including minorities) to choose Southern over AU due to campus culture, indicative of greater issues? Is the anemic enrollment, lack of operational funding, and stagnant (far below market) wages, a natural occurrence, or a failure in leadership? Some may realize that the issues in consideration today are far greater than summary text.

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Oh no…this is terrible news!

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Do you have any actual examples or proof for this? It’s hard to take vague, handwaving accusations in a comments section seriously. (I mean, I’m allowed to leave comments, so there’s the biggest red flag ever.)

Frankly, I can’t see what either professor of architecture has to do with the provost, either positively or negatively. Seriously, what does any of this have to do with Christon Arthur? He’s still a blank slate to me, as Steve said above. Not that it matters, since the selection is already made, but still.

This article has misleading information. Mark Cook has stated many of the facts more accurately than the author of this article.

The article seemingly try’s to paint Moreno in a positive light due to his Harvard degree. However, Marino has openly opposed Adventist beliefs on more than one occasion, in front of the students.

The article seemingly portrays supporters of Andrew Von Maur, as being against diversity and inclusion. This is not true. The supporters of Andrew Von Maur are a voice in support of Adventist education and committed Adventist educators. Andrew Von Maur is widely recognized within the profession of architecture in the United States, while at the same time, a devoted Adventist professor. Andrew is the essence of what Adventist institutions should be seeking in a professor. The fact that Andrews University administration is trying to get rid of him his appalling. If Christon Arthur is successful in getting rid of dedicated professionals such as Andrew von Maur and Rhonda Root, it will be a disaster for SAID.

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Please know: The Board Chair, Dr. Arthur Stele, shared in the Board’s report to University employees that the Board’s review found sufficient evidence of “insubordination” on Andrew Von Maur’s part to warrant the non-renewal of his contract. They dismissed all grievances lodged against the University and its officers. So, this selection is in no way to be seen as a vindication of Von Maur’s conduct or claims. Stele further indicated that the only appropriate channel for contacting the Board was through the President and that the massive email and letter campaign to Board members was inappropriate. This is a very difficult situation. It has hurt a lot of people, created a difficult situation for the next president to step into, and could damage trust in the institution at a critical time. There is nothing for anyone to rejoice about here. Only prayers are welcome.

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Enrollment at Andrews dropped by some 260 students this last year. Unless a change can be made by the administration, a downward spiral will continue, and Andrews will not survive. Further cuts in staff are being considered.

Can a school that has a student body that is 70% minority attract white students? Especially when there seems to be tension about diversity on campus in spite of the fact that the school is one of the most diverse in the nation. If whiteness is stigmatized in such an environment, why should such students attend?

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