Oakwood University Board Votes Historic Recommendation

(system) #1

Oakwood University's newsletter, sent out today, contained the significant announcement from the university's president that the school wants to shift its sponsorship from the General Conference (it, along with Andrews University and Loma Linda University are GC institutions) to the North American Division. President Leslie Pollard wrote this message.

On August 6, 2014, after much deliberation, discussion, and prayer concerning where Oakwood University would find the best organizational placement for its unique mission in the 21st century, the 37-member Oakwood University Board of Trustees assembled in Battle Creek, Michigan, and voted overwhelmingly to recommend to the Oakwood University Constituency Session that Oakwood University become a sponsored institution of the North American Division of Seventh-day Adventists.

If the recommendation is voted at the October 15, 2014, Oakwood Constituency Session (to be held at the General Conference Headquarters in Silver Spring, Maryland), Oakwood University would become the first North American Division-sponsored institution of higher education in the Division's 101-year history. Oakwood University would also join the emerging NAD portfolio of major institutions, such as Pacific Press Publishing Association, whose missions specifically focus on the advancement of the Seventh-day Adventist Church's work in North America.

The August 6, 2014, vote culminated a nine-month conversation and a six-month exploration by a Board-appointed, GC-NAD Transition Taskforce,* chaired by Dr. Ella Simmons, General Conference Vice President and Vice Chair of the Oakwood University Board. On April 20, 2014, during the spring meeting, the University Board of Trustees formed and tasked the Transition Taskforce with the following responsibilities:

1. to identify any and all relevant issues related to an organizational transition of Oakwood University to North American Division sponsorship;

2. to propose solutions to said issues; and

3. to prepare a recommendation to the Oakwood University Board of Trustees, General Conference and North American Division Committees.

The rationale for the recommendation of the Oakwood University Board of Trustees anticipates a number of benefits which would accrue to the Oakwood University enterprise. These benefits include:

• Oakwood would find greater mission congruence and financial support within the Division most directly impacted by its operation - North America;

• the decision to become a North American Division institution grants greater legal, constitutional, and voting influence to the core NAD constituencies served by Oakwood University;

• the new organizational placement would reconcile the historic purpose for Oakwood's founding with the focus, scope, and results of its 118-year operation.

While the Regional Presidents' Caucus, the Oakwood University Administration, the North American Division Administration, and the General Conference Administration tender strong support for the Oakwood University Board recommendation, the prayers of all are sought as the Oakwood University Board's recommendation moves to the October 15, 2014, constituency vote. The prayer of our church leadership is "may God's will be done!"

- Dr. Leslie Pollard, President Oakwood University

Secretary, Oakwood University Board of Trustees

**The GC-NAD Transition Taskforce consists of: Daniel Jackson, NAD President and Oakwood University Board Chair; Robert E. Lemon, General Conference Treasurer and Oakwood University Finance Committee Chair; Leslie Pollard, Oakwood University President and Board Secretary; Alex Bryant, NAD Secretary; Lisa Beardsley-Hardy, General Conference Education Director; Ronald Smith, President, Southern Union; William Winston, President of the South Atlantic Conference, Vice Chair of the Oakwood University Board and President of the Regional Conference Presidents Council; Karnik Doukmetzian, General Conference Office of General Counsel; Tom Evans, NAD Treasurer; Larry Blackmer, NAD Vice President of Education; Dedrick Blue, Pastoral Representative to the Oakwood University Board; Cynthia Powell-Hicks, Business Owner and Board Member; Clifton Jessup, Attorney and Board Member, Miriam Battles, Administrative Assistant to the University President and Recording Secretary.

Invitees were Timothy McDonald, University Provost and Senior Vice President, Oakwood University and George Johnson Jr., Director of Integrated Marketing and Public Relations, Oakwood University.

Image: Oakwood administrators with General Conference President Ted Wilson on September 23.

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at http://spectrummagazine.org/node/6280


This is smart on the part of Oakwood and part of what I think will be an emerging trend of the NAD taking control of institutions within the NAD. As the World Church continues to grow, continued financial support by the GC for Oakwood, which has a unique North American mission, cannot be guaranteed. The NAD has already reduced its percentage of financial support to the world church which, with continued reductions, will allow for focus on church growth and missions within the division. The lackluster growth of the church within the NAD requires that the NAD take control of its own destiny. Moving out of the GC headquarters, and even out of the DC area, would help solidify that separate identity.

(Robert Jacobson) #3

Oakwood University would become the first North American Division-sponsored institution of higher education in the Division’s 101-year history.

Besides the GC, who sponsors our other North American colleges? The unions?

(Steve Mga) #4

It occurs to me that the Oakwood Group see the “Handwriting on the Wall” with all the dictates from the GC regarding Women, being All Inclusive in student applications and treatment, being autonomous in what and how they conduct their teaching in the classrooms. Being under control of the GC would make them puppets from the halls of the GC buildings.
This is a very intelligent move and would be good for the North American Division.

(Joselito Coo) #5

If not the NAD, what union should sponsor OU?

(George Tichy) #6

Smart moves. Both, the NAD becoming more autonomous and OU getting out of the GC’s control.
I guess they just realized that the NAD is going in a healthier direction that the GC, and of course they want to remain sane.

(Thomas J Zwemer) #7

sane and solvent, next Andrews. A year from now you can see to that George. I’ll have to cast an absentee ballot. Tom Z

(Interested Friend) #8

Is Jackson trying to get as much as he can under his control? I’m far from impressed with his leadership.
In The Grip of Truth

(George Tichy) #9

I sure hope so! It’s past due…

(Al21c) #10

Yes I would agree and add that this is a way for Oakwood to get around the ultra-conservative bent of the GC and come under the somewhat more progressive NAD i.e women ordination, etc. Make no mistake this is MAJOR and I think a sign of a more decentralized SDA Church in the future. I see no other sane way frankly.

(George Tichy) #11

It sounds like an employee rejecting the employer and looking for another one.

(Rheticus) #12

The NAD is the “North American Division of the General Conference”

This looks like a minor administrative change being presented as though it is something dramatic and a good thing, but it is a deeper part of the GC power grab, There is a reason Ted is looking happy in that picture.

The GC controls the NAD. By making it look like the NAD rather than the GC is controlling various NA institutions there is an illusion of independence not backed by reality. People will accept this control more than they will accept explicit GC control.

But they are setting up the traditional hierarchical power structure - the benevolent but distance pope is not the person having to insist you eat your veges, it is the immediate stern local ruler.

It will be interesting to see who falls for it.

(Rheticus) #13

There is no “North American Union”. The NAD is a division of the General Conference, controlled by the General Conference, required to follow directions from the General Conference.

(Steve Mga) #14

Thanks for noticing my Typo. I corrected it.
But maybe it wasnt out of line with the thought of Unity in Diversity.
We have to recognize that the SDA church is not made up of all Born-in-the-Church members. We have converts from many different religious backgrounds coming into the church at the Local Level and bringing with them their particular views on many subjects. One is the Role of Women in the Church, another is Who is it that we will allow to worship in church with us?
Some welcome Women preachers, others are culturally offended by the thought of women preachers.
Some have an All Welcoming attitude, others have been culturally educated that certain groups are not to be allowed in the church pew.
These attitudes and Acceptance and Non-Acceptance are many times passed down to 2nd Generation SDAs as well.

(Joselito Coo) #15

Unlike union sponsored institutions, OU will continue to receive subsidies from all the unions of the NAD. A minor change indeed.

(Allen Shepherd) #16

I think you guys have this all wrong. It is not likely a Liberal-Conservative issue, but rather one that removes the NA colleges from exposure to students from all over the world. SDA’s now have universities on all the continents, and students from those divisions can go there. To have universities sponsored by the GC here means that all the world has access to them. It is hard to get folk from the divisions to return there once they have tasted of the “promised land” of NA. And it undermines the local universities. By putting these colleges under NA supervision, that route is more or less eliminated, or at least made more expensive.

Now, I could be wrong, but that seems to me the reason for this more or less minor adjustment. Ted is not what you with, what shall I say, liberal paranoia, think.

(George Tichy) #17

How so Allen?

You must know him very well, and al the “liberal paranoia” as well, right?
I don’t know what the “liberal paranoia” think about him. It seems to me that people well balanced (not paranoid, of curse…) can only judge his actions and how he manages (maneuvers…) the various issues in which he can be influential.

His managerial style has nothing to do with what others “think” of him personally, only with what we all, liberals and conservatives, can see him doing. Which for some is more than enough to have him replaced in 2015.

And, as you know, there is at least one excellent replacement that can be used with great benefit… :slight_smile:

(Winona Winkler Wendth) #18

Moving out of the Silver Spring offices would be too expensive—one of those electronic fences between the office suites would do it. "But seriously folks . . . " The relationships among the Unions and the NAD, the GC and the GC and the Rest of the World have changed markedly over the decades, and political structures that worked well in the 19th century, before airplane travel was common, before the Interstate, let alone the Internet, allowed easy travel and quick communication are obsolete, and in the case of the role of the unions, duplicative and unnecessary. Although the unions do consolidate much management, they are a step away from the people they serve and seem to have little reason for being, save their respective colleges. Now, Oakwood has taken the first smart step, recognizing that their students come from all over the Division; the remaining colleges in this Division should follow. Loma Linda University, because it’s the only medical school in the Denomination, is problematic on that front.

(Rheticus) #19

Completely wrong. The union conferences are where the local conferences can combine resources and yet not be bullied by the top-down leadership coming from the GC. Instead the NA union conferences should amalgamate into a NA Union Conference and follow the Holy Spirit’s leading for the work in this part of the world.

(Dee Roberts) #20

Actually there are several SDA universities with medical schools. River Plate in Argentina and Montemorelos University in Mexico, to name just two. There are others, with a couple additional ones in the works, all outside of North America, including Asia and Africa.

With that a a backdrop, LLU and AU should move to NAD as well. The case can be made that all of the north American universities that fall within the NAD territory should fall under the NAD moving them out from under the unions, but I expect that is a bridge to far politically within the division.