BREAKING: Atlantic Union College Will Close

Atlantic Union College announced today it will close at the end of the current semester. The Adventist college in Lancaster, Massachusetts has been in operation for almost 140 years. It closed in 2011 after losing its accreditation, and re-opened in 2015 with the hope of regaining accreditation, but that did not happen.

According to the Worcester Business Journal, the current students, who number fewer than 50, were informed yesterday about the decision. The two bachelor’s degrees the college offers will be discontinued at semester’s end, while the six continuing education certificates will end no later than December.

The news outlet Sentinel & Enterprise reported that “Atlantic Union spokesman Emmanuelle Ortiz said Wednesday that the most recent closure was because of financial backers pulling their support from the school.”

In April 2017, the Southern New England Conference voted to end its nearly $800,000 per year subsidy to Atlantic Union College. The college appealed the decision, but the SNEC stood firm.

Ortiz told the Sentinel that "There are two [more] conferences that want to pull out completely and a third that wants to cut its funding by half…We did a feasibility study and there's no way for the school to continue on financially."

Atlantic Union College has articulation agreements in place with Southwestern Adventist University and Andrews University, and according to the Telegram, the college will work with students to help them transfer their credits to these schools so they can complete their degrees.

The school has struggled to attract students since reopening in 2015. Without accreditation, students are ineligible for federal financial aid. In an interview with Spectrum in 2015, newly elected president Avis Hendrickson said the school had 11 students enrolled for the fall semester. By fall 2016, that number had risen to 31 enrolled students, according to AUC’s enrollment report.

In August 2017, a student-led petition began circulating, accusing Atlantic Union College of lying to students and parents. The Atlantic Union College and the Atlantic Union Conference issued a joint statement in response to the petition, stating that “the most recent Atlantic Union College Audited Financial Statement indicates a healthy and sustainable financial environment for the school under the current operation.”

The statement went on to say that “the Atlantic Union Conference Executive Committee, on the recommendation of the North American Division Education Department, voted to establish an independent task force to conduct a feasibility study to determine the sustainability of the college in this current environment.”

It was the results from this feasibility study that led to the decision to close the college.

As of this writing, an official statement from Atlantic Union College about its closing has not been published to its website or social media outlets.

Alisa Williams is managing editor of

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This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at

As an AUC alumnus (1984), I think this is long overdue.

I suggest the Atlantic Conference sell everything and use the proceeds to endow Public Campus Ministry in the northeast. That’s where 80% or more of Adventist students go.

Maybe keep Founders Hall as a museum of Adventism’s past in New England, and to preserve the library’s Heritage Room collection.


This saddens me to the core. One of our flagship schools, where E.G. White preached, is closing. What will be done with that beautiful campus? Maybe a Loma Linda University School of Allied Health East Coast campus? My suggestion. I would support that. Give us guidance, dear Lord.


I think I understand the problem: with less than 50 students enrolled it still took “an independent task force to conduct a feasibility study to determine the sustainability of the college.”

Words fail.


The school died years ago…it took an interminable time for some groups of people to stop beating the horse.


This is terrible news. It is very sad to see that a Conference denies to do its job that is giving money to the school. I believe that this decision shouldn’t be made by a couple people. I believe that everybody that helps maintain the Conference with tithes and offerings should participate in the vote.


50 Students
$800,000.00 from the Southern New England Conference.
that is $16,000.00 per student from tithe monies to pay salaries,
heat and cool buildings, maintain the buildings from deteriorating.

Even when the students leave, the SNE conference will STILL be
paying monies for heat and cooling, for maintaining the buildings
to prevent sudden deterioration.
Just because students leave does not STOP the need for money
to be poured down the rabbit holes.

EDIT-- ATODAY has a much MORE DARKER expose of this AUC fiasco.
it says that $4.3 MILLION annually has been given to AUC to keep it open.
This is a LOT of tithe moneys from the various Conferences that make up
the Union up there.
Apparently the Spectrum article DID NOT TELL the Whole Picture.
Apparently it is AWFUL!!
And the average church member in that Union is totally unaware, oblivious,
and kept in the dark as to what is happening with their monies.


Come cfowler, tell us the great things your church is doing? I get tired of reading comments from people such as yourself who are not even Adventists and have nothing but negative things to say. It’s as though you thrive on such stories.

Even using that emoji with the eyes rolling up. How condescending.

While some are saddened, others find enjoyment. Well there you have it.


I often do. But I still wonder why a person who is not an Adventist even comes here; especially if it’s only to criticise, mock, and put down. It would be like me coming to your church when you folks are discussing some topic, and constantly putting your church down; your leaders, and everything else that comes to mind - rolling my eyes etc etc. I’m sure after some time some of you would have asked yourselves, and rightfully so, “Why does this person even come here for?”

BTW, I don’t have access to the Lounge any longer (specifically for this reason - it’s toxic), so wont receive anything from there.

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The. church of Latter Day Saints (MORMONS ). with their Brigham Young University, are a role model to follow.

They can place all their resources into one terrific campus, with terrific science labs, lecture halls, concert auditoriums, and sports facilities.

They can offer a hugely diverse curriculum and a comprehensive catalogue of courses, and career choices.

It made sense to have a college in each Union Conference, when our Adventist colleges were first founded—in the horse and buggy age, pre automobiles, pre freeways, even pre Greyhoind buses!

In those days travel was lengthy and arduous and students did not want to be several days journey from home.

With cheap air travel, no USA Adventist college needs to be more than half a days air flight from home.

ALL our smaller NAD colleges need to close, including the one in Canada.

Maybe preserve Southern, LA Sierra and ANDREWS universities.

Although, combining La Sierra and Loma Linda into one huge single NAD campus makes sense.

Southern California weather is the most pleasant in the nation (outside of Hawaii ), making it an inducement to live and study there.

Also LAX —LOS ANGELES airport —with its plethora of cheap flights to everywhere makes getting to LA SIERRA fast and cheap from almost everywhere

—-$200 one way fares, to LAX, currently on NORWEGIAN AIRLINES
—my favorite —from both London and Paris !

Duplicsting our meager resources over multiple small campus compounds is wasteful and stupid.


It is amazing to me to see how our church spends money, and ultimately waste it. It has been known for a long time that AUC has seen its best days. A good college is a very expensive operation for which all should count the total cost before committing donated financial aid. The person responsible for making this long term commitment should be held responsible?

I wonder what will happen to any endowments the college has? I wonder how much debt the college is holding? I wonder, when the campus is sold, who will claim the assets? Maybe Google will be interested, they now own our former Pacific Press property.

Sadly, members and clergy, know so little about the financial health of any of our colleges?


PUC should be closed now while there is still something worth saving faculty wise etc and moved to Walla Walla perhaps.


The Girls dorm dated to 1938-39, The. Gym 1946, The Adminisration 1448,
AUC once had a great music program. but Florida, and Kettering and Andrews sucked the blood out of New England.

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It is sad that the school is closing. What will happen to the campus is a great questions.

To my knowledge the major buildings are at least 72 years old. What is. South. Lancaster land worth.?

“Although, combining La Sierra and Loma Linda into one huge single NAD campus makes sense.”

Did you forget this was already done? It didn’t work.

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Earlier, I was trying to copy and paste the OP, my response, and your response to me, into the Lounge section. I couldn’t get it to work the way I wanted it to, and I think I may have accidentally deleted my post (I don’t see it here anymore).

I did respond to you on the Lounge page, but I’ll do so here as well since I won’t have 2 posts here.

You seem to find my negative/critical comments more bothersome than some of the other posts that are equally as critical. That’s okay. No problem.

Feel free to scroll past my comments in the future.


When I was at Andrews U. in the mid-60s there was a lot of discussion then about AUCs ability to survive on its own… Was it going to be annexed to Andrews or Southern. If that had happened then, the campus might have survived under different circumstances. But my understanding that the Union Conference did not want to relinquish control of the school…As others have noted in these comments, the time may be past for our colleges to be linked to Union Conferences.


I guess you haven’t been there for a while, Tom. A new field house was opened about 1980. Library was built in 1970. Science building about 1983. Men’s Dorm in 1956. Cafeteria building about 1995.


Thanks for the update. In recent years my only stop in Mass was the Boston Pops.


when AUC first closed, there were people i knew who thought it was the judgement of god…when AUC made the attempt to reopen, and things started looking up, people were less certain that the closing was the judgement of god…i’m sure this permanent closing will strengthen the feeling that AUC’s closing has been the judgement of god…

AUC had issues with racism, which led to a black backlash, which led to a white flight to PUC and andrews, which led to the loss of the critical mass of students needed to make the place viable…i don’t think it ever really recovered…to go from a thriving haven of amazing energy and talent to a ghost town in just a few short yrs definitely had a supernatural quality to it at the time…

i feel bad about Thayer Conservatory…this was once the hub of incredible musical talent and vision…the New England Youth Ensemble called this place home at one time…who can forget those summer rehearsals right after we won Reader’s Digest’s Friendship Ambassadors’ offer to travel behind the iron curtain to poland, which ended up with an unexpected invitation to perform for president gerald ford and henry kissinger in vilanov palace in warsaw…and that was just the beginning…

looking back to those amazing yrs now seems almost like a fairy tale…except they really did happen…

i think there’s something else worth mentioning in this saga, which is that Pioneer Valley Academy, in New Braintree, Mass., a boarding school i attended not too far from AUC, closed many yrs ago…the loss of this feeder school was probably the first sentence in the writing on the wall for AUC’s demise…

South Lancaster Academy, a day school which i also attended, just down the road from AUC, may be next…without AUC, i see very little point in having this academy…i was personally invited to attend the 40-yr reunion of my graduating class at SLA last yr…i really wish i had gone…but i had to pass because of work obligations that i couldn’t get out of…always, always, money gets in the way of important things it seems…

it’s a bit unnerving to see every trace of one’s teen-age yrs and young adulthood go belly up, i must say…especially since all of it has a bit of an inevitability aspect…so much of how i think, even now, was informed by the critical yrs spent at PVA, SLA and AUC…but now these places all seem to have turned into ropes of sand…

i think losing your high school and college is like losing a parent…things aren’t the same…you’re on a journey you aren’t ever coming back from…the reality you know existed now exists only in your mind, and only to the extent you can recall it…

i recently drove through fort steel in B.C., which is a ghost town to end all ghost towns, and that’s lingered for the 23 yrs i’ve known about it…i suddenly decided to pull up to a small shop and buy a lumber jacket…not that any traces of lumber mills exist in this place anymore…even the rivers have dried up, or greatly changed, over time…i just think it’s important to hang on to the past in some way…the past isn’t ever coming back again…