Southern New England Conference Pulls Subsidy from Atlantic Union College (Higher Ed News Shorts)

Southern New England Conference Pulls Subsidy from Atlantic Union College. Southern New England Conference of Seventh-day Adventists President David Dennis announced that the conference executive committee voted April 9 to withdraw its monthly support from the beleaguered Atlantic Union College. The subsidies total nearly $800,000 per year. The funding cut takes place on July 31. Atlantic Union College has struggled to remain open after losing its regional accreditation in 2011. The college named Dr. Avis Hendrickson its president in 2012, hoping she could turn the college around. The conference’s decision to stop supporting AUC suggests that it is no longer seen as a viable institution. From Worcester Telegram, “Atlantic Union College loses subsidy from church conference.”

La Sierra University Mourns, Remembers Christian Batchelor. La Sierra University convened a prayer service in Hole Memorial Auditorium to pay tribute to junior Communication major Christian Batchelor, 22, who died on April 22 of congenital heart failure. Students and faculty shared memories of Batchelor, who wanted to pursue a career in public speaking. Batchelor was remembered for his good humor and positive outlook, despite his life threatening condition. From La Sierra University, “La Sierra University remembers beloved student Christian Batchelor.”

Union College Holds Memorial for Former Professor Dr. Ward Hill. On Sunday, April 23, the College View Church in Lincoln, Nebraska hosted a memorial service for former Union College professor, Dr. Ward Hill. After serving in the military and pastoring in Canada, Hill taught at Kingsway College high school in Ontario, Canada. He served as a professor of theology at Union College starting in 1971. During his tenure at Union, Hill chaired the divisions of Religion and Humanities, served as academic dean as interim president. He officially retired in 1990, but continued teaching classes until 1999.

Oakwood University Wins Big in All-Star Challenge. A team from Oakwood University has won the 2017 Honda Campus All-Star Challenge, a quizbowl tournament for Historical Black Colleges and Universities. The grand prize, a $75,000 check, will go to the university. Students participating in the challenge answered questions on history, science, literature, religion, the arts and popular culture. Oakwood bested a total of 80 teams that took part, beating out second-place Bowie State College in an exciting finale. It was the third time Oakwood won the event. From USA Today, “Oakwood U team wins $75,000 in Honda HBCU challenge”

Oakwood has also enjoyed the firstfruits of its farming industry. On April 26, Oakwood University announced the sale of its first crop from the newly-established Oakwood Farms. The university announced the agricultural venture in February as a way to provide managerial apprenticeships and agribusiness internships to students and to help them pay for tuition. The farm’s first crop included turnip greens at $3 a bunch ($5 a bag) and radishes for $1 a bag.

Helderberg College Accredited to Offer B.Ed. Qualification. The South African Council on Higher Education has accredited a new program at Helderberg College—the Bachelor of Education: Foundation Phase—effective April 25, 2017. Helderberg will begin offering the B.Ed. qualification in January, 2018. The B.Ed. is the third new qualification to be accredited during the current quinquennium for Helderberg College in the Southern Africa Union of Seventh-day Adventists.

Jared Wright is Southern California Correspondent for

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Our small,colleges like Atlantic Union College and Newbold, with their decidedly limited faculty and course offerings, are at a distinct disadvantage in attracting prospective students, when compared to larger institutions.

All our NAD Adventist schools were set up in the "horse and buggy " age–pre automobiles, pre freeways, pre air travel.

Now that travel is cheap, fast and efficient over several time zones, should we not emulate the Mormons, who have ONE major university-- BRIGHAM YOUNG?

One large institution could offer numerous course offering over multiple disciplines, and offer savings by reducing duplication over our many NAD colleges.

Tuition might even be cheaper, resulting in removing our colleges from the unfortunate ranking – those colleges which graduate students with the MOST DEBT.


The LDS also don’t have their own secondary school system or high school and I would venture to say that they save tons of money as well with the same or better young person retention as the Adventist. Food for thought.


And what about the consortium model currently being very successfully used by Southwestern, Union, and Southern through technology to coordinate offerings, schedules, and to teach courses? One seldom hears of the success stories.


If a school cannot survive without donations it means that it is actually dead but still on life support.
Subsidizing schools and Universities with money collected from church members (hopefully it is not tithe money!!!) is totally absurd.

Pull the plug and let it go!
@elmer_cupino @harrpa @cincerity @ageis711Oxyain,
and @robert_sonter, …the climber… :slight_smile:


There is a lot of competition in higher education, not just for religious schools, but also for secular colleges and universities.
Just here in GA, there are a lot of choices for persons to choose from just in the secular colleges and universities where students can attend either living at home or go to one that has a dorm situation. There are even a number of “National colleges” that have satellite campuses here in Macon.
For SDA students to go to an SDA school there has to be a pull that goes beyond just an interest in learning whatever craft they are interested in.

As far as AUC there MUST be a LOT of overhead costs in keeping up the grounds, keeping the buildings from falling in, heating and cooling costs up in that “cold” country in the winter. Seems like it would take a lot of staffing for however many students they have.
At some time or other one has to consider the Cost/Income Ratio and come to a decision. Even if it IS one of the oldest campuses of the SDA church. And there are lots of memories for lots of people.


question --Does higher education make or break Adventism?


Underneath those challenges lies a broader one: The Atlantic Union does not have the demographics to support a full-service, or, even a four-year commuter college. Unless millions of dollars of effort were to go into attracting (more or less buying) students and faculty from other parts of the country, the union, itself, does not have the resources to make a college work. Close to 80% of the union’s constituency lives in the greater New York area, and a very large number of those are new Americans and/or new Adventists and/or new English speakers who are not attracted to the notion of living a sub-rural, culturally foreign environment two hundred miles from home. They are not sufficiently resourced to pay even a small part of private college tuition, and their churches are pressed to keep their own congregations running well. And even more than the “typical” American, they are most interested in training for work, rather than entering a liberal arts curriculum.

Add to this the likelihood that New York will find a way to provide free community college education to its citizens if they remain in New York through their education, the chances that a student would want to be in New England to study history or literature, or even biosciences decrease. Ironically, the least expensive curricula are those derived from the humanities, the most expensive (from a colleges position) are the technical ones, and those humanities curricula are the least attractive to the overwhelming majority of Atlantic Union Conference young adults.

Also: the NAD has been supportive of creative attempts at partnering with other schools over the years (decades), but the constituency has at least once, and union leadership (twice) have not been willing to abandon a territorial approach to running a college.

This is a sentinel event that could result in some genuinely creative solutions if the key players could bring people in and think “outside of the box.”


AUC was once a thriving college. What happened? Why do we have to close one of our oldest schools of higher education? It’s a sad day when we lose one of our oldest institutions.

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Back in 2013 the prestigious Boston Globe wrote an extensive article that explained the causes of AUC’s failure along with other small private colleges that were either closed or on the verge of closing. If you read the article referenced at the top of this comment you get the full picture published four years ago. NOTHING has changed!

Several years ago I had a long lunch meeting with an AUC Board Member. I suggested three simple ideas that could have helped in recruiting new students for AUC.

  1. Most universities, even community colleges, schedule few classes in the evenings, when older, part-time students could enroll most easily and administrative offices aren’t open outside of business hours.
  2. Begin to serve a population that doesn’t have the time or finances for degree-based programs. Since 85% of AUC’s constituency is in the grater New York urban area find ways to serve urban community educational needs.
  3. Appeal more to Senior citizens who have needs and much more money. Grant more 50+ students college credits for life experience equivalencies — knowledge areas and skills they’ve picked up over their lives. Programming to help people at retirement plan for their transitions and move from where they’ve been in their careers for 30 years and into service, so they can contribute to the social good, Just as with adolescence, we need college to be a place where people can come and reconceptualize their lives
    My ideas were totally ignored and from this Spectrum article it appears that NOTHING has changed for the better.
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Contrary to the gist of this extremely short article, AUC is alive. And the facts of the article are off as well. Bachelor degree programs were just reopened in 2015 after a 4 year hiatus, but Thayer music, and the new NETS program, have been vigorous in the meantime. And just prior to the sudden closing by the accreditation agency in 2011, the College was thriving, improving every year from a prior low. It was not closed due to low enrollment, but due to disputes over finance. Further, the recent vote by SNEC was taken completely out of line with proper procedures with the Atlantic Union and NAD. The (surprisingly low) percent subsidies are set by long term agreement. SNEC has shown it’s impatience with the restart process in a headline grabbing but ultimately illegitimate way. There is almost no chance SNEC executive committed can follow procedures and pull the subsidy by July 1 even if it is approved at every level of the hierarchy. And if it succeeds, it will have to face an energized constituency at every level which opposes the closing of the last Adventist hub in the Northeast.

The question of whether AUC or other colleges are vital to Adventist mission is simple: they are if they are true to the mission. Under the current inspired leadership of Dr Hendrickson, the spiritual climate of the school has soared. A visit to the campus, including, but not limited to Founder’s Hall, the science building, Thayer Performing Arts Center, College Church, and NETS, plus one on one meetings with the community of AUC, would quickly dispel notions that the school is better off gone. It is shameful that a brother in Christ (G Tichy) would use such vulgar and ungodly terminology as “pull the plug” concerning this precious Adventist treasure. In any case, the campus belongs to God and if we, His servants, learn to respect it, support it, stop behaving like sheep, and vigorously put it to His purposes, it will thrive again.

George Odell, Alumni of AUC, executive committee

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there’s nothing like an energized new england crowd, that’s for sure…let’s hope SNEC constituency’s voice can be heard, if it really is the case that there’s daylight between what SNEC EXCOM wants, and what its constituency wants…the exceptionalism of adventism started in the northeast…it shouldn’t be allowed to dry up there…