Pacific Union College Issues Statement on Financial Challenges and Turnaround Plan

Editor’s Note: On April 10, 2020, Pacific Union College issued the following statement regarding its most recent accreditation report, and the Notice of Concern it received from the accreditation commission regarding its financial challenges. The statement is included below in full:

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at

PACIFIC UNION COLLEGE with its sublime, idyllic location, its competent caring faculty, it’s small class size, has to be the epitome of Adventist education.

I always regret not sending my four adult children there!

—-They went to non SDA, more expensive schools, including Ivy League Colleges.

That said, all our NAD colleges were founded in the “ horse and buggy “ era when travel was arduous and colleges needed to be near the students’ home territory.

The Mormons had a better idea with BRIGHAM YOUNG UNIVERSITY
— one major college ( except for their branch in Hawaii ) that with economy of scale, they could offer more majors, disciplines, career choices. The University plant could have the best library, laboratories,
and other physical plant facilities with less expenditure.

With modern, cheap air transportation, modern freeways ( the cross country auto speed record was just broken ), students can access more distant colleges with less expense and greater ease

Time to downsize our Adventist higher education to just ANDREWS

Regrettably, the ensuing economic disaster will drastically decrease student enrollment, precipitating the inevitable closure of our, too many, small inefficient schools.



I went to PUC all four years. My freshman year was enlightening, then I went on Taskforce for 2 years, came back my sophomore year and things had changed to a far more liberal side within the student body. Many were now going out on Friday nights to dance clubs in San Francisco. My remaining three years had other great moments but the liberal, more “worldly” type of activities were rather disheartening to see.
Very sad that PUC is having financial difficulties. I have picked up from time to time that their increased liberalness has had a negative impact on financial support from alumni. It is quite difficult to turn that around. It is easy to go downhill, much harder to go up.

Nearly all SDA colleges are struggling financially whether they are considered “liberal” or not…

Don’t know when it was that you attended PUC but even back in the 70’s it had its “liberal” elements with those students who visited the nearby wineries, went to “Sin City”, etc. Of course, I don’t know if there has been a huge increase of aforementioned activities among students but I doubt that it has changed all that much.

AUC closed its doors and was not noted for its “liberalness”. The cost of maintaining infrastructure and insurance is getting increasingly prohibitive in the US. I expect that there will be more SDA colleges that will eventually close their doors much like many other “secular” colleges in the years to come.

My opinion is that there is too many SDA colleges to begin with and closing a few and putting resources back into a few less would be for the best. The LDS have done this successfully for decades and the Adventists could learn from this.


It’s not SDA liberalism that has crushed PUC. Although that is certainly a very convenient position for conservatives to spew. It keeps them from facing the truth about uncontrolled spending and failure to make building a endowment a priority.

While one administration fell in love with the idea of turning PUC into a “Eco” village the next administration fell in love with glitter and gold in the form of high priced recruitment trips and personnel. Giving away hundreds of thousands of dollars to athletes that had no intention of opening a book much less attend a class. VP’s that demanded salaries and benefit packages well past the salaries of those that had come before them. Other curriculum start up programs that are politically correct or a pet of a close relative which didn’t attract majors in large enough numbers to make economic sense. In short, malfeasance, misfeasance and incompetence in budgeting by individuals with padded resumes and having the right physical features at end of the day drove the decisions of the Board. But hey it looks rather good to US News and World Report and gives you bragging rights in the area of diversity and other PC categories.
It might have been avoided had it not been for egos and hero worship of individuals rather than adherence principles and sound business practice.

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This is very sad since my daughter is a Jr nursing major now online, of course. While I was there in the 70’s-the college was at a all time high for enrollement-something like 2400-if I remember correctly. There were sometimes 3 to a room-they had to build new dorms in the back. It was a wonderful experience. The 1st day I took my daughter to college I was shocked that there was so few students since I was there. I hope they are able to turn this financial situation around.

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I was hoping that you would chime in with your many years of “boots on the ground” perspective.

Bad decisions (especially those pertaining to finances) usually are the slippery slope to insolvency. And from what I saw at AUC…some of what you mentioned happened there as well. Because of the “Cult of the personality” and poor business practices no one should be surprised to see more of the SDA colleges and academies going down the drain.

The Endowment issue has been around forever with few Adventist schools doing anything about it. Loma Linda doesn’t have a problem with alum donating to it…generously in many cases. I haven’t heard that many of the other schools having Endowments (though there might be). So many more things we could be mentioning but I don’t know if it would change the way things have been run for so very long in the SDA school system.


I actually was told the reason SDA schools don’t make endowment a priority is because Jesus is coming back so soon we should not be laying up treasure on earth. I would give you the name but I won’t call him out. But you could guess and probably don’t need more than two guesses to get it right.

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Yes, I would have guessed that was the reason, etc.

And…while there is nothing “stored up” most of the schools can just rot away and become a thing of the past.

Such great spiritual clarity and prescience! :thinking: :shushing_face:

P.S. There is always plenty of money to be wasted on pet “Evangelistic” projects. However…Covid is forcing the GC to tighten their belts due to less tithes and offerings coming in…layoffs will be soon.

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While we can understand the reason college presidents paint a optimistic picture by posting head counts when putting out numbers, it’s really EFTE numbers that tell the financial health of a institution. A head count of say 1000 students may translate into 600 based on discounts such as the SDA or minority discount scholarships from the institution such as athletic, leadership, breathing and other made up titles all figure in to EFTE’s. It drives up HC but does nothing for the financial health of the institution. These phony scholarships are great for the marketing team but that’s about it.

With a tuition driven institutions, which most of our colleges fall into, 60% of head count translates into a financial problem. Many, many new scholarships began to show up starting about 2000.

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Thanks for the explanation and breakdown. This is the problem when they count on tuition without endowments. Harvard really could survive without tuition because they have a massive endowment/investment fund. The SDA schools cannot just survive on tuition alone and dwindling enrollments are their Achille’s heel.

AUC was warned for many years that they needed to make improvements and have surplus cash flow. Eventually the accrediting board just pulled the accreditation. This can and will happen at PUC if they cannot cash infuse the school some way. Do you think that they can manage this feat of financial magic?

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Years ago, 25 or so there were many who said PUC needs to use their land as a source of income. Among the suggestions were, a golf course, SDA workers cemetery, a retired SDA workers Retirement home and plant Olive trees. Olive oil and the wine industry have become extremely good partners. In fact most vineyards line there vast acres of grapes with trees and harvest both. Another was to sell the land to winery’s. SDA ethics took that off the table. To be honest I didn’t support the sale of land as a result of the track record of institutions selling land as a answer to debt. ( see LSU ) I supported the Olive tree industry but alas I wasn’t ordained nor did I have the good old boy network behind me.

Now on top of this we see the Unions unable to contribute as a result of giving. It is sad but it is a result of bad decisions and spending for pet programs.

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Agree. I saw AUC sell off historic properties and their dairy over time. None of which was good planning or timing. Historically, too many decisions have been made or heavily influenced by those who have never taken any sort of business class in their lives.


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