BREAKING: Atlantic Union College Will Close

Read other comments and you will see, Maria, that the conferences responsible gave large amounts of money to AUC. It seems wrong to assert that “a couple people” made this decision. Beware being judgmental without knowing all the facts. Actually this decision was made by a group of people responsible for the college after incredible efforts to keep it open.

Consider the history of the prolonged death of AUC and you will learn that there were efforts made to “save” it by merging it with CUC, Andrews, etc. For some reason, those efforts were not successful. Many state-run colleges and universities today belong to cooperative systems such as the California Community Colleges, the various campuses of the U of California, etc. Many of them do not stand alone as AUC did.

Also remember that AUC suffered from truly corrupt leadership before Dr. George Babcock came out of retirement and valiantly tried to put AUC back on its feet.

And, finally, consider that when AUC and other “union” college were founded, transportation and communication in America were not what they are now. Nor was the American system of public education developed which became an attractive alternative to people who could never afford to send their children to AUC.

When circumstances change like this and efforts to “reinvent” the college were not successful, good stewardship would expect that conferences and union to close this school. The fact that it was once important and successful does not mean that it was relevant or successful now.

Please be careful in judging the leaders who have made this difficult decision.


I am an alumna of Atlantic Union College, South Lancaster Academy, and Browning Elementary School. I believe an up-to-date business plan is needed to address academic needs in the Seventh-day Adventist Church.

It is not only Adventist Colleges that are closing. Many colleges and universities are closing throughout North America, due to shifts in pricing, sites and types of instruction, and those who pay for instruction. We Adventists have taught well for more than a century. But employers now want to shape directly their employees’ readiness for business, even demanding that knowledge is not the essential: anyone, now, can research informational knowledge on-line. No: the essential is the soft skills of customer relationships, getting along with people, mentoring, conflict resolution.

Adventist college and university campuses may do well to become academic think tanks, situated where the problems to be solved are most problematic. For example, Columbia Union College, now Washington Adventist University, developed the Center for Metropolitan Ministry a mere mile and a half from Washington, D.C. What academics might cluster 40 miles from Boston in mid-New England? or perched above burnt-out Napa Valley and close to Silicon Valley in California?

As for Adventist schools, why not focus on Friday night and Sabbath to provide the religious instruction and social activities needed, then–deep breath–allow our students to be salt and light in their local public schools? My husband has taught in Seventh-day Adventist schools for nearly 42 years: I realize the huge shift this would entail. Yet, we can do better, and must, now.


“Inasmuch as these people refused
The waters of Shiloah that flow softly,
And rejoice in Rezin and in Remaliah’s son;
Now therefore, behold, the Lord brings up over them
The waters of the River, strong and mighty—
The king of Assyria and all his glory;
He will go up over all his channels
And go over all his banks.
He will pass through Judah,
He will overflow and pass over,
He will reach up to the neck;
And the stretching out of his wings
Will fill the breadth of Your land, O Immanuel." Isaiah 8:6-8 NKJV
(Notice that it was the ‘king of Assyria’ that had ‘God with us’, not Judah.
Judah had ‘refused’ ‘Shiloah’, rejected ‘God with us’.)

SDAs were intended to be leaders in education, religion and healthcare. ‘Shepherds’ not ‘sheep’.
But strangely we began bowing to non-SDA ‘accrediting’ organizations like the ‘AMA’ . . . . Now, the ‘New Age’-‘Holistic’-‘Co-op’- ‘CSA’- . . . ‘scene’ is enjoying the life-style and profit$ that the SDA GC might have led out in, and reaped rewards from, decades sooner than when non-SDAs finally caught on.

Just how does an ‘SDA’ educational institution remain ‘SDA’ after complying with non-SDA accrediting organizations ? How ? Knocking off at noon on Fridays ?
The boozers in the labor union I was once a member of did that.

So, hopefully, the rest of the non-SDA accredited ‘SDA’ educational and healthcare institutions will soon unburden the SDA GC, too. Then, like King Hezekiah, we can spend an extra penny per member on the every-fifth-year extravaganzas to show off our world-wide SDA ‘wealth’ to our ‘accreditors’. . . OR, we could save that $7 million or so, and simply invite a few un-ordained Chinese women missionaries to show us all how to be self-supporting and operate on less than a $hoe$tring.

When will we SDAs admit we’ve ‘lost it’ and beg the Good Shepherd for help ?

I found the money to save Atlantic Union College on the following web page:


“The General Conference World Budget each year sets aside $1.4 million for the direct cost of the Session venue. That’s $7 million, which is less than 8 cents a year per member. Including indirect costs, such as air travel, lodging and programs of local administrative units, the total cost for Session is approximately $20 million, which is approximately one dollar per member.”

“No other denomination comes together on a worldwide basis to elect leaders, to hear reports, and to receive offerings from everywhere to be distributed everywhere. In order to maintain worldwide unity of the Church, it could cost 10 times this amount to replicate the type of infrastructure needed to gather and communicate.”

So, how did a few days ‘together’ ‘maintain worldwide unity of the Church’ in the city of ‘Remember the Alamo’ defeat, in 2015 ? ! ?

The truth is, the SDA GC does not really want to save SDA educational institutions or hospitals or to “hear reports” from all missionaries . . . we simply want to gather together every 5 years and brag about what we have not yet lost.

Furthermore, if SDA universities insist on preparing their students for jobs in the world’s ‘corporate model’ – instead of for mere ‘gospel missionary work’ – then I suggest that they teach that ‘model’ by example, and fire 75 % of their credentialed professors, replacing them with lower cost ‘apprentices’ to teach students. That’s what the corporate powers that run my home state have done, with our Governor’s blessing. Yep, since July 4, 2016 any electrical construction project needs only 1 licensed electrician for up to 3 apprentices . . . and THAT IS THE CORPORATE MONEY $AVING MODEL at work – ‘licenses’ and ‘credentials’ always bow to ‘profit$’. So, SDA university professors that want to keep their high-paying positions in corporation-pleasing SDA universities can expect to have to join ‘conspiracies’ – aka ‘unions’ – if they wish their ‘credentials’ to mean anything, financially-speaking. . . .

In the future, we SDAs must always sit on the trunk side of the limb we’re lopping off.

“O Israel, thou hast destroyed thyself; but in me is thine help.
I will be thy king: where is any other that may save thee in all thy cities?
and thy judges of whom thou saidst, Give me a king and princes?” Hosea 13:9

Or, maybe some wealthy West Coast ASI corporate media mogul will buy up AUC’s facilities at a bargain and start a women’s ‘college of evangelism’ there, on the East Coast . . . ?


It’s not strange. If you want to run a successful college it has to be accredited. This is not news to anyone.

The AMA, the American Medical Association, is one of the two accrediting associations in the US for medical schools. To be recognized as a Medical Doctor and to practice medicine, to promote the very mission work you fear we are losing, you have to have graduated with an MD from an accredited school.

The two are not connected.

You’re hoping our entire college system abandon the church?
Of note, the GC doesn’t pay for any of our colleges. Unions do.

Probably never. The church tends to never admit wrongdoing, and instead tries to find biblical support for whatever they’ve done or are doing.

That sounds quite accurate to me. While I don’t object in theory to a GC meeting, the last one was a laughing stock. Watching it made me cringe, if only due to its overall ineptitude.

If anything it’s the opposite. We need professionals to teach professional subjects that take years to master. We need to teach those subjects because if we did not then the colleges would not exist. Very few want to go to a “missionary college”, but if they did then that would be the place to have uncredentialed teachers, since there’s nothing particularly challenging or technical in teaching someone to be a missionary.


Many people would, and the school did, in fact, support that—a good problem solver for both campuses. The board vote at LLU was only one vote shy of its happening; the Atlantic Union president, who sat of the LLU board at the time withheld his vote, and the meeting was held when the president of LLU who was supportive was out of town.


Without denying that racial/cultural tensions have been part of the history of the college, please remember that during an earlier administration, attempts to recruit anyone from outside the Atlantic Union, save in Toronto and the Caribbean, were more or less shut down. The overwhelming majority of Atlantic Union constituents live in NYC, and many, if not most, are first generation Adventists and new Americans who are not necessarily interested in a liberal arts education; further, these students do not want to go to school in a sub-rural environment in New England. The demographics are not there without relying on other unions. You are mostly right about the pushback from the African-Islanders (there are virtually no African Americans in the union, and African-American students haven’t been attending AUC for years), but the “white flight” that comes easily to mind is not really central to the issue—this is a cultural, not a “racial” issue. But yes, since a few administrations ago, AUC has been in a downward spiral energized by conflicting notions of success and potential outcomes. It’s time for a federation of colleges whose semi-independent campuses can focus on what they do well, report to a central administration, and recruit on those terms. AUC is an ideal location for the humanities, for example, and students of literature and history have enjoyed great summer programs at AUC that were attended by students from all over the country. But that kind of thinking does not go over well among (some) leadership who worry more about who owns what real estate and what material resources are on whose books.


Please remember that AUC lost SDA accreditation several years ago. Also, please remember that demographics and the nature of evangelism, itself, in the Atlantic Union is as much responsible for the institution’s decline as anything else—maybe most.


Actually, SLA is doing well because it’s a local school and does not face the demographic challenges that AUC does. If and when AUC does completely close, that will have been the last institution left in the Atlantic Union. One of the most densely populated areas in the nation has only a few local academies, no health care facilities, and now no college. Please consider what this could mean . . .


The College of Medical Evangelists – Loma Linda University name in early 1900’s.
Percy Magan and Sutherland began Madison College with arm twisting by Ellen White.
Percy and Sutherland took the Medical Course when they wanted to begin a Sanitarium.
Later Percy Magan was requested to go to Loma Linda. What it needed was accreditation
so they could continue to Educate Doctors and Nurses.
In addition, a number of Financial Supporters of Madison were REQUESTED to send
monies to Loma Linda to upgrade it at that time.
WITHOUT Percy, without Madison College, without Madison financial supporters we
would not have an ACCREDITED Loma Linda.
This would have meant ANY SDA wanting to become a physician would have had to
attend a public institution.
NO College of Medical Evangelists!! NO Loma Linda University that we know today!!
Thank you – Percy Magan! and Madison College!

Winona – To ANSWER your question. What is happening in that Conference???
Where there is NO VISION the people perish.
Limited educational system, no SDA health care, no Post-High School training in Religous
Maybe even SUB STANDARD Religious Training for those attending Public Schools-- Elementary,
and High Schools.

Shifting demographics, both in the church and in the region, insularity and a kind of isolationist politic, and consequent limited recruiting of both students and union conference and pastoral leadership is what happened. One can’t run a four-year liberal arts institution in New England for students or parents who do not want that and church leadership do not want students from outside the union. The notion of “a union college” ran amok and overran the possibilities of creative solutions. The material and human resources in the Atlantic union to operate major institutions simply aren’t available. And, possibly, there is no room for them in New England, which is super-saturated with both schools and hospitals, many of those merging or closing as I write. Long-term, big-picture data derived from “the outside world” hasn’t been central to strategic planning for this union.


This is, actually, a more complete and tempered report of this situation. “The average church member” may not have the whole picture (no “average church member” in any union with a college does), but remember that the union constituency did vote for a merger in 2011, and leadership more or less stood in the way.


Interesting that you mention Brigham Young University, I assume that it the only Morman U. in the U.S.? It’s sports, notably football, is probably a huge revenue for income which our universities do not have. If we had only 2 universities, one east coast and one west coast, they would be more solvent I would guess. Just like the mom and pop stores go out of business and cannot compete with the supermarkets prices and availability of products, the smaller colleges just cannot compete as well. Why don’t our smaller colleges become junior colleges? Wonder if that is even possible?

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It is not said, how and why did AUC lose its accreditation? Not enough qualified instructors or what?
Accreditation is needed to be an acceptable university to effectively compete with other universities that do have accreditation. For teachers, one must graduate from accredited school to teach in any state in U.S. Hospitals need accreditation to function as a hospital. Medical schools & Nursing programs need to be accredited. How did AUC hope to survive without accrediatation?

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Financies—they had been improving, but some (in some cases illegal) decisions that had been made in the mid-nineties were nearly impossible to dig out from. They were doing better, and had the voted merger had gone through, they could well have managed. Accreditors did not complain about the quality of education.


What is probably more relevant going forward, is understanding and addressing the process in how this situation was allowed to occur and are there other currently in flight situations that need to be managed differently?

I am an alumnus of AUC. I graduated in the early 2000s. I can honestly say that attending AUC and getting a degree from there is the biggest regret of my life. The school was neither the school I wanted nor needed. I only went there because my family put pressure on me to be close to home. I had spent two years at Andrews and loved it there, and spent two years at AUC and hated it there.
My problems with AUC and SDA education are:

  1. The ladies’ dorm is seedy. The place was falling apart when I was a student there more than a decade ago. Today, there are cracks from floor to ceiling in the kitchenette that is adjacent to the main lobby. The entire dorm is out of date. Also, other buildings on campus are old and need repairs. My mother said that the administration building has the same sinks that were there 40 yeas ago when she was a student. She attended for one year.
  2. There was a lack of counseling and guidance. I needed a lot of help in choosing a major and a career. I had absolutely no help in that at all. I wasn’t sure what I wanted to study and what career I wanted. I had no career counselor to talk to. If I could have done it all over, I would have made some different choices in my academic career entirely.
    I wasn’t taught how to manage my time wisely, how to study properly, what sort of GPA I would need for various graduate programs, or what I could do with my major.
  3. I was treated unfairly. I was given a roommate who did not want a roommate, yet insisted on living in the dorm and not paying extra cash for a private room. Living with her was Hell on Earth and I wasn’t able to get into another room because the dorm was filled and the only empty room was one without electricity. (That shows how seedy that dorm is). Anyways, I should have never had to put up with that woman. I also feel that I was being picked on by the staff. It wasn’t fair. If that lady wanted to live alone, then she should have paid for a private room or else lived elsewhere.
  4. The school messed up my bill twice. I was supposed to be given more scholarship money for working a Summer at Camp Winnekeag. I was not given the full scholarship I should have gotten right away. The woman at the bursar’s office had an old pamphlet that was a few years old. I finally got the full scholarship after fighting for it at least 3 times. The school also gave me the wrong meal plan, and I finally had to fight to get that fixed. There was no way I was going to pay for meals I didn’t eat.
  5. The College Church had practically NO students attending their services. What kind of college church is it then? I went there every Saturday for services and I didn’t see the place filled with students. They all went elsewhere for services.
  6. I wish that more graduate programs were advertised for the students. The only program that was shown to me was La Sierra’s MA in English. Why weren’t programs from local schools advertised? Why must SDAs be so exclusive? What is wrong with advertising what local non-SDA universities offered? Do you think the folks at the local Catholic colleges like Assumption College or Anna Maria College only advertise programs at Catholic schools for their students?
  7. It isn’t right that SDAs keep wanting to keep their schools open at all costs. There are so many schools, from K-8 church schools to academies, to SDA colleges that SDAs keep wanting to keep open even if it isn’t working out. I was recently talking to a SDA lady who told me that her church’s church school had only 5 students last school year, and that one student had graduated and was going to Union Springs Academy. The school may be getting another student for the Fall to keep the student body at 5 students. Seriously?! A K-8 church school with only 4 or 5 kids? What is the point of that? I have also heard that USA has less than 50 students. Why are these schools even open?!
  8. I attended 3 different SDA church schools and I was bullied constantly at each school. I was afraid of attending public school. I finally did attend public school for high school. I didn’t know how to properly use a computer. I also didn’t understand science labs or how to write a lab report. I had to be held over after class to learn these things. I wish I had never, ever, gone to SDA church schools. They did NOTHING to prepare me for the real world. I was also treated like dirt. My sister even mentioned recently that at the last church school we attended that even though we were in the grades 5-8 class, we all acted like a bunch of 8 year-olds. As I look back at it, it was true. We all acted much younger than our real ages. We were allowed to be like little kids there, even though we weren’t little kids anymore.
  9. I am tired of Adventists praising their schools and call them “investing in eternity.” Many of my former classmates from SDA have nothing to do with the SDA church or religion at all. Going to SDA school does not save people. Jesus saves people. The SDA schools just put more money into the SDA system and perpetuate the subculture of prosage-eating people who don’t know how to dance.
    Well, I got that off my chest. As for AUC, good riddance.

Bummer it is closing again. It is the birthplace of SDA so to speak.
It is a beautiful place in the fall as the wind blows the leaves around.
Yea its got some cracks and its problems, they all do. Have you stood there around all the cool old buildings and felt the power of our message, walked all over the property and sensed the glory of the place in sending out many witnesses and workers to go around the world? Has anyone sat in the chapel where Mr Miller and Mrs White spoke? It should give you goose bumps. A museum, hardly, its a living breathing place with or without students.
Its not the condition of a school, conference, or union. Its the spiritual condition of the student, conference and union and all the people in it. There is more than enough money in the hands of God’s people to pay for all the Gospel work including old schools, in fact AUC should be expanding. Its a classic among classics.
Has anyone read the book The Broken Blue Print? maybe we all should! God’s original plan for our education system. Anyway its really sad abt AUC.
Bummer you have so many old classmates out of the church, If I may say it is not AUC’S fault or any other school, old rotting or brand-new. It is ones spiritual condition and connection to God’s will guided by the Holy Spirit which is everyones first education before any schools education. Bad schools and teachers etc don’t make bad students. One can learn many things under much worse conditions. Shinny newer schools with all the Phd’s won’t make you smarter only you really.
I have been to the big Mormon university in UT, walked all over it and I could feel the darkness in their theology. I used to go into the library and stick Amazing Facts Bible study cards in their books.
Yea schools are closing and so are churches which is just as sad or the saddest.


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