Atlantic Union College Names Dr. Avis Hendrickson President

Atlantic Union College has named Dr. Avis Hendrickson the next president of Atlantic Union College, according to a press release issued by the institution's Board of Trustees. The historic appointment makes Dr. Hendrickson only the second black woman to be named president of an Adventist institution of higher education in the United States. Pacific Union College president Dr. Heather Knight was the first, starting her tenure at Pacific Union College in 2009. Hendrickson will serve as AUC's tenth president, succeeding Dr. Duane M. Cady, M.D., a general surgeon, who served as interim president after Norman L. Wendth led the institution through rocky times, including a loss of accreditation.

Upon the recommendation of the AUC Strategic Planning Committee, the AUC Board of Trustees, on May 5, voted to authorize the offering of three certificate programs (non-higher education) starting after approval from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts is granted. They are as follows: Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) Culinary Arts English as a Second Language (ESL).

The Board of Trustees' press release states that Dr. Hendrickson holds a doctorate in Developmental Education: Student Development and Personnel Services from Grambling State University. She earned a master’s degree in Guidance and Counseling from Hunter College of The City University of New York, a bachelor’s degree in Behavioral Sciences from John Jay College of Criminal Justice, a senior college of The City University of New York, and a professional degree in Administration and Supervision from Bank Street College of Education.

“We’re very pleased to welcome Dr. Hendrickson to join the long history of service at Atlantic Union College as president,” says Donald G. King, chairman of the Atlantic Union College Board of Trustees. “She brings with her many years of experience as an educator and administrator. The board of trustees looks forward to working with her as she seeks to provide leadership, vision, and strategic planning for the operation of Atlantic Union College, poised for transition into the future.” Hendrickson will assist in guiding AUC in its quest for re-accreditation and to build on creating more certificate programs in addition to the one it currently operates on campus known as NETS (Northeast Evangelism Training School). Last year, AUC received State approval from the Massachusetts Department of Higher Education to offer two four-year degree programs in Theology/Religion and Biology/Health Science.

Hendrickson come to Atlantic Union College with extensive experience in student affairs, having worked in community colleges, senior colleges, and universities in urban, suburban, and metropolitan communities, the release noted. The institutions were public, private, city, and state organizations. Hendrickson has also been recently invited to serve as an evaluation team member with NEASC (The New England Association of Schools and Colleges). Her additional experiences include serving as a higher education administrator at the executive level and overseeing operations and procedures to identify strategies to make the enrollment process more efficient.

Hendrickson has been involved in a number of additional professional activities and has given presentations on various topics to entities in and outside of the Adventist Church. She is the recipient of several honors and awards and has published articles in a number of publications.

Hendrickson is a member of the Hunts Point Seventh-day Adventist Church in the Northeastern Conference of Seventh-day Adventists and has served the church in many capacities.

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at

Please excuse my cynicism, but they’re going to have to do more than bring in a talented president, if AUC is ever going to be a viable entity again. They were going down the wrong path long before they went belly up. It will take a miracle to restore confidence in enough people to get them to send their children there.


I hope Ms. Hendrickson’s connections with NEASC can help her to fast track a restoration process for this institution.


While I am impressed with aspects of Dr. Hendrickson’s CV, including experience in the private sector, I could not see where she has worked in Adventist education on any level. Since AUC is seeking accreditation outside NEASC, her connection there will be limited. And finally, the “C” in AUC means certificate because for now our 4% of annual tithe will be invested in certificate programs. That pretty much describes the hole we are desperately trying to escape.


Any time one closes an Institution and then attempts to re-open there is always the intimidation that it wont take much to close it again.
The buildings have been vacant for quite some time, what shape are they in? Will “somebody” have to put a lot of money into them to get useable again?
It is nice to have a new President, BUT what teaching staff will be willing to quit their present jobs and join her? That is pretty scary, at least it would be for me. Teach a year or maybe two and be out on the street again.
Are they going to attempt a 4-year program, or be a 2-year Junior College?
Maybe they could do a Junior and Senior High School and a Junior College with 2 year degrees. That way they would have students for 4 years. That would also allow them to have High School Honors Classes.
I doubt that anything will happen before the 2015 School Year. Will be interesting to see how they handle reviving interest.
Is the community in the surrounding areas large enough to support commuter students and have a huge “day college” program without needing dorms?


We were residents of Clinton, MA, next door to South Lancaster 1990-92 while doing my child fellow at UMass. Attended college church while my sons went to Browning Elementary School. We have fond memories of the college and wish them well, hoping to get the college going again. It could be a tough sell but not impossible.


South Lancaster Academy is a thriving senior high school adjacent to Atlantic Union College and Browning Elementary School.


i very much hope auc can be revived…new england is full of intellectual, artistic, and spiritual energy, and auc was all of these things at one time…its music department was a major draw for the area, back in the day…virginia-gene rittenhouse, with her overpowering personality, energy and vision will never, ever be forgotten…the last major work i studied with her was the brahms violin concerto…i can still hear her intense descriptions of how to “enter the door of this piece” in order to feel and comprehend it, and then share it…the only thing that mattered in those days was pouring your heart out on stage in a flawless performance…there were a group of us who practiced many hours each day inside thayer conservatory, which was a world all it’s own…

how auc fell from its high point to where it is now is hard to say…i know there are those who explain it as a judgement of god…others say it was bad fiscal management…whenever i think of it, i’m at a loss…it’s an example of the incomprehensible actually happening…

At best “AUC” is a currently a trade school, not even a community (junior) college or institute. Has there been a feasibility study done to demonstrate a need for such an Adventist institution in the Northeast, especially one that has little potential to become an accredited four-year institution? Was there any study about making this an expansion of an existing academy? Has a study been done about the potential employment market for students completing these programs? Is there a need for such an institution when many fewer Adventist families send their children to Adventist schools? What is being described could be obtained as a local community college where tuition would probably be less and the student could save money by living at home.

This still sounds too much like “our union wants its own college and can’t accept the fact that this is not really feasible”. Is there some territorial Adventist pride involved that is blocking reality?


I don’t know when or how they lost their way, but long before they closed, I learned that they were offering “sports scholarships.” That told me that their priorities had become confused. An Adventist school exists for only one purpose, and that is to prepare young people for their role in fulfilling the Great Commission, in the context of the 3 angels’ messages. Offering sports scholarships is out of place, and should have never happened.


It has to be a bit depressing to be named president of a college that is no longer a college.


The courses offered make it appear very weak. Who would want to attend such courses, and what career opportunities will they lead to? A person will be able to assist a nurse, or give a bible study, or stutter along in their use of language, Or cook dinner. Hardly cutting edge.

No, I don’t wish it well. Shut it down and stop wasting energy and resource on this hare-brained idea.


Is there a proposal of course offerings, class offerings for the next school year somewhere?

Are you now competing for "the weirdest post of the year?"
So far you appear to be the winner!!!


It sounds like having a job that is not a job.
I wonder if the salary is also a non-salary…

Hi David! Haven’t seen you for a while. Welcome back!

1 Like

I bet all professors and administrators are working pro bono, since the tuitions will be enough to cover only the electricity bill…
There is a time to become realistic and act accordingly. But it does not always happen this way…

1 Like

AUC technically never closed. A reconfigured Board and greatly reduced Constituency became a holding company and a strategic planning entity. They hired a consultant to assist them in what has turned out to be a complicated and lengthy restart process. Give them credit for persistence. But then AUC is the only Union institution. (Odd thought without any institutions the Union is composed of just people.) They were successful in preserving the original school charter with the Commonwealth, more useful in the future than for now. Rather than NEASC, they have been courting a different accreditation organization with some success. The Union has voted additional funding, besides the 4% of tithe which the six conferences provide (Northeastern splits their 4% with Oakwood). A staff of between 20-30 employees have been busily engaged in ongoing maintenance of college buildings and the apartment/house rental business. The campus actually looks better now than two years ago. With an initial $200K, two year grant from the NAD, an evangelistic training center, NETS, was started with a staff of 3-4. This certificate based training has averaged 10 students per term, but more important, its presence on campus is critical for accreditation and the other proposed certificate programs which are aimed at starting in Aug 2015. Meanwhile, South Lancaster Academy constituency recently voted an $8 million replacement/expansion project. So you can’t help but be impressed with the optimism of the community. But I suspect that an objective analysis of the situation would arrive at a different conclusion.


I’m not sure why you find it so weird. SDA schools have no business offering sports scholarships. If they do (as AUC did), it is symptomatic of confused priorities. I’m not sure how much the Lord can bless an institution which has veered off the path.

Man, What is wrong with sports scholarships?
Go for it, explain it to us, so that we can understand what is “the clear word of God” on this issue!

(Just please don’t complain of being tired if you get some people coming up with “another mantra” in response to your accusations against sports scholarships.)

1 Like

Sports scholarships are just wonderful–in a secular institution that it focused on the great American idol (sports). But, as Adventists, we’ve counseled against becoming heavily involved in sporting activities, and concentrate instead on training our youth to spread the gospel, whether it be in the capacity of medicine, education, or some of the more industrial occupation. Read what Ellen White has to say about sports, and you’ll understand where I’m coming from.

And just for the record, I used to be a big sports fan; baseball in particular. The highlight of my teenaged years was getting Willie Mays’ autograph. Now I get irritated when a sporting event pre-empts the local news.

By the way, how much will you give me for an autograph of Willie Mays? :wink:

1 Like