Student Petition Urges: End Atlantic Union College’s Scam!

A group of current and former Atlantic Union College students have created a petition against the school entitled, “End Atlantic Union College’s Scam!

In the petition, created August 12, students levy several accusations against the school, which lost its accreditation in 2011, closed for several years, and then reopened in 2015 with Dr. Avis Hendrickson at the helm. In an interview with Spectrum shortly after she was named president, Hendrickson spoke optimistically about the future of Atlantic Union College. She expressed hope that the school would be “in the process” of regaining its accreditation within two years. Students who attend unaccredited institutions are not eligible for federal financial aid, which makes it difficult to attract students, and costly for those who do attend.

Further complicating matters, in May of 2017, the Southern New England Conference announced it was pulling its subsidy to the College, placing the school in an even more precarious situation.

In the anonymous petition, a person who identifies herself as a current student and “one of the few girls who attends this school,” says she can no longer “sit back and do nothing.” She goes on to say that the school is continually downplaying the situation to “lie or trick the current and future potential students into believing everything will be ok.”

The student outlines several lies Atlantic Union College allegedly told to students and parents including the school’s transportation options, the size of its student population, and its re-accreditation status. The petition ends with a plea to the Atlantic Union to help students out of this dire situation by “offering them scholarships to better Adventist schools.”

To date, 14 individuals have signed the petition. One individual who also identified herself as a student commented on the petition saying, “Keeping the students there as test subjects for their failing institution is almost evil. God can't be pleased. They should just help students to go to better schools at an affordable price to get a better degree. AUC IS NOT A SCHOOL AFTER GOD’S OWN HEART!!!!!”

According to a current student who asked that his name be withheld, a group of students is behind the petition, though it’s written in first person.

When asked for a response, President Hendrickson provided a statement which read in part:

Attention has been given to transparency and communication with all members of the College constituency: Union, conference, churches, faculty, staff, students, and local areas surrounding the College. There are published newspaper articles, monthly faculty and staff meetings, meetings with faculty, staff, and students, for the delivery of information on college updates and questions from the participants. A monthly e-newsletter, The Ambassador, is sent to all the constituents.

Transparency is further emphasized with the students regarding the accreditation status of the College during the admissions process. Students are informed about the accreditation status and sign a form acknowledging receipt and understanding of the accreditation information.

Atlantic Union College has withdrawn accreditation applications from two (2) accrediting bodies, primarily for an incongruence of their tenets with Adventist doctrine. Accreditation is important but not at the risk of compromise. NEASC (New England Association of Schools and Colleges), the regional accrediting body, is the group the college is working with to gain accreditation. To date, the college has made measurable progress.

In the interest of the academic standing of students, the College has worked on obtaining articulation agreements with Adventist institutions of higher education. There is an articulation agreement with Southwestern University and an articulation agreement with Andrews University awaiting signatures. Additional articulation agreements are being sought from more institutions.

The AUC Board of Trustees lowered the tuition to nearly half of the cost to attend a private institution of higher education. Students are encouraged to work on or off campus in order to meet their financial need. This method supports students’ graduating with little or no debt. Presently, AUC is operating without federal financial assistance. The College is owned by the Atlantic Union. The financial matter regarding funding from the conferences is an issue under the purview of the Atlantic Union Conference. They are giving attention to this matter.

The full statement can be read below.

In Fall 2016, AUC had 31 students enrolled in degree programs and 38 in certificate programs. This was up from Fall 2015 which had 23 students in degree programs and 16 in certificate programs. The retention rate was 80% between Fall 2015 and Fall 2016. The ethnic makeup of students in 2016 was 78% black, 16% hispanic, 4% asian, and 2% white. 65% were male and 35% were female, and 91% identified as Seventh-day Adventist, per AUC’s enrollment report.

The current degree programs offered are a B.A. in either Theology or Religion and a B.S. in Health Sciences/Biology. The six continuing education certificates offered are: Certified Bookkeeping, Cisco Networking and Security, Evangelism Training, Medical Billing and Coding, Medical Office Assistant, and Pharmacy Technician.

Fall 2017 begins on August 27 for certificate programs and August 28 for degree programs. Enrollment numbers are not yet available for the new school year according to Dr. Hendrickson.

Alisa Williams is managing editor for

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This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at

It was a sad day for Adventist higher education when AUC had to close. Since then the Atlantic Union and other interested parties have made valiant efforts to reopen it in some fashion.

They understand the need on the Atlantic seaboard for an Adventist presence in higher education. In this case history and heritage are important factors as well.

The petition asserts some very serious allegations. The Union, the Administration and the students involved, in fact all students at AUC, need to address these with complete candor.

From personal experience it is too easy for students not to understand Administration. The corollary of that is also true—Administration does not always understand students.

The accreditation issue is a complicated matter. Once lost, it takes herculean efforts and resources to regain it.

Before retirement in June, I was watching the progress at AUC. I was hoping for the best outcome for the New England States.

The poignant reality of Adventist education in this country is the continual decline in students for a myriad of reasons. There have been recommendations over the years how to address this decline.

Like it or not, Adventist colleges are dependent on tuition income. The financial help received from church entities are helpful, but the majority of the budget is based on tuition.

The sad reality of this dependency on tuition is the debt factor incurred by students and in many instances shared by the parents. Student debt is a horrendous burden on young people.

Will AUC be able to continue? This is matter for the North American Division and the Atlantic Union to seriously examine in the light of current factors at play in this country.

Unfortunately, if time continues, more Adventist higher education institutions will be facing the same fate. Based on Adventist eschatological understanding, time was never meant to continue into the 21st Century.

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Is this the same South Lancaster SDA school that was one of the great success stories for
’God’s own heart’ in the 1888-era ? :


"We have traveled all through to the different places of the meetings that I might stand side by side with the messengers of God that I knew were His messengers-- that I knew had a message for His people. I gave my message with them right in harmony with the very message they were bearing. What did we see? {3SM 160.4}

"We saw a power attending the message. In every instance we worked–and some know how hard we worked–I think it was a whole week, going early and late, at Chicago, in order that we might get these ideas in the minds of the brethren. {3SM 160.5}

"The devil has been working for a year to obliterate these ideas–the whole of them. And it takes hard work to change their old opinions; they think they have got to trust in their own righteousness, and in their own works, and keep looking at themselves, and not appropriating the righteousness of Christ, and bringing it into their life, and into their character. And we worked there for one week. . . . One week had passed away before there was a break, and the power of God, like a tidal wave, rolled over that congregation. I tell you, it was to set men free; it was to point them to the Lamb of God which taketh away the sins of the world. {3SM 160.6}

"And there at South Lancaster, the mighty movings of the Spirit of God were there. Some are here that were in that meeting. God revealed His glory, and every student in the College was brought to the door there in confession; and the movings of the Spirit of God were there.
{3SM 161.1}

"And thus [it was] from place to place. Everywhere we went we saw the movings of the Spirit of God. {3SM 161.2}

“Do you think, like the ten lepers, I shall keep silent, that I shall not raise my voice to sing the righteousness of God and praise Him and glorify Him? I try to present it to you, that you may see the evidence that I saw: but it seems that the words go as into empty air; and how long is it to be thus? How long will the people at the heart of the work hold themselves against God? How long will men here sustain them in doing this work? Get out of the way, brethren. Take your hand off the ark of God, and let the Spirit of God come in and work in mighty power.”–Manuscript 9, 1890. {3SM 161.3}”

“Thus says the LORD:
“Stand in the ways and see,
And ask for the old paths, where the good way is,
And walk in it;
Then you will find rest for your souls.
But they said, ‘We will not walk in it.’”
Jeremiah 6:16 NKJV

We can learn what it means to be ‘after God’s own heart’ without a college, or a college education.

But, will being ‘after God’s own heart’ get us a great-paying job after ‘Satan’s own heart’ in Satan’s corporate world ?

Does ‘God’ accredit South Lancaster’s AUC, ‘after His own heart’ ?
. . . or does some lesser, non-SDA, pro-world-minded organization do so ?

If we wish to be educated for acceptance by the world in SDA schools, then we should not judge those schools for attempting to give us what we want. And, ‘false advertising’ is very much accepted by the world . . . as long as it works.

So, what SDA ‘pot’ can dare to call an SDA ‘kettle’, ‘black’
. . . except one who is fooling themself ?

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Our NAD colleges were literally set up in the "horse and buggy era "-- pre automobiles, pre air travel, pre freeways systems, pre even Greyhound buses!

In those days it made sense for each Union Conference to have its own college, and maybe two, as distances seemed vast and travel was arduous and expensive.

Surely students enrolling in a small college of only a few hundred students, must realize that course offerings will be few, and extra curricular activities minimal.

The Mormon Church with its huge national BRIGHAM YOUNG UNIVERSITY
has economies of scale, multiple disciplines of study, and stellar campus facilities that a large university with thousands of students can financially support.

It is time to close all our small Adventist colleges, even though some euphemistically label themselves " universities ".

Ease of travel and its increasingly low cost ( I flew from Nice, France to Los Angeles on the latest luxury Boeing Dreamliner .recently, for less than $500 )
make it imperative to close the smaller SDA colleges set up so long ago, and concentrate our resources on a few major prestigious universities such as LOMA LINDA…

Students and their families can only blame themselves for enrolling in mini educational institutions that are pathetically ill equipped to function as modern "universities ".

In researching national college rankings last year, since my grandson was entering college, I discovered a disconcerting/dismaying fact:

Three of our NAD colleges were ranked in the top fifty nationally, NOT FOR ACADEMIC EXCELLENCE, but for those schools graduating the students with the MOST STUDENT DEBT!

Maybe Adventist families would be well advised to utilize the nearest, cheaper public community college/.state university, where in-state-tuition and scholarships make graduation possible without crippling debt.


Must be a slow news day if anonymous rants become news sources.

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As stated in the news article, we have been in touch with several of the students behind the petition, as well as President Hendrickson. The College is taking the views expressed in the petition seriously, and so do we.


Another quintessential example of the SDAs mismanagement, or by people who recently started calling themselves SDAs.
Seems like they could be a satellite campus for another already accredited college or kick out all under achievers, or fire the management.

non-accredited colleges are almost a 100 percent waste of money and it’s unfair for the students. even community colleges have transferable units. nobody wants to get caught up in an non-accredited college.

and yes. maybe it’s time to make a better use of the space by hosting elders.

just hope the SDstupids don’t do something moronic like they did with Union college where they sold the land next to it, and blew through the money in the first year. now all that’s left is a small lot with a college and church on it.

what do i know, though, it’s not the same church it used to be in a lot of places. been taken over by looney tunes


We have become stumbling blocks. AUC against the world. We need to have more faith. Before publishing this article someone should get information from both sides.
I believe the food is bad at AUC they should close!
Should we publish that.
Let’s be professional and not just publish anything that hits the web.

People can be speaking honestly or they could be just tick off and venting.
Please let’s be Christians and work out our problems as we are taught in Matt 18. first 2 together if two are not reconciled then bring the Elders.
We are all God’s children. God is in control

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As stated in the article, Spectrum was in contact with both sides while writing this article: several of the students behind the petition and the administration, including President Hendrickson. The administration informed us they are taking the petition very seriously and so do we.

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I remember a time when students had the courage to let the media publish their names.

I can’t figure out why would anyone attend an unaccredited college in the first place. What can come from it? Attending an unaccredited college is a way to spend a couple years of your life, but to what end?

As others have posted here, only the best of our universities are competitive. And, unfortunately even then, they are competitive only in a few areas of study.


Historically, that was offered, then withdrawn.
A satellite campus still needs accreditation.
And you didn’t ask, but only one building on campus has landmark status, Founder’s Hall.
In spite of money being spent to hold back damage done by time and money waylaid for personal use, the campus would make an excellent elderly housing village. There is even an excellent campground nearby for golf, not available for a few weeks of campmeeting, though. Plenty of employment opportunities, and then there would be vans.

Add: AUC never coped with the chasm of black/white. One solution was to allow the Black Christian Union but never a white Christian union. The only loss to New England has been the nursing program, especially at a 50% tuition cut! But when a director of the program not only made herself a higher authority than God, there was no excuse for any further college.

I was an adjunct for 25 years at seven public, private and Adventist tertiary institutions. I wrote an article for Spectrum comparing NAD institutions with the public institutions of their states. Across the board Adventist institutions were more expensive, had lower graduation rates and left their students with more debt.

AUC is a scam, a fraud and a delusion fostered on a 98% minority student body of less than 50 total students. Without accreditation these students can’t get Federal loans, can’t transfer course work and will find it hard to be viewed as having anything other than a “paper mill” training.

It s time to stop the charade. Dr. Hendrickson has had several to find a solution but she has not. This is not about a religious miracle-none is likely to come. The plug has been pulled from all financial support except for a few who refuse to believe the school is brain dead. Dr. Hendrickson, you are now no better than Donald Trump and Trump University. Have the students work so they can pay their tuition for a charade?

Call a constituency, sell what can be sold and move on. Stop the charade!


What stops the General Conference from forming an accreditation body that would be recognized worldwide on a par with the best of the so-called “regional accreditation” teams? Why are we the tail instead of the head?

In any case, I fully agree with the AUC administration in not wishing to be accredited by an organization that would impose requirements in conflict with our Adventist beliefs.

My suggestions for ultimate success:

  1. Refocus the degree programs on current needs in the worldwide mission of the church, especially with regard to completing the Gospel Commission in the neglected corners of the earth. This might include, for example, degrees in public health with an emphasis on natural and affordable remedies, a degree in teaching English as an additional language, a degree in translation (a specialty in Bible translation might be helpful), degrees in computer programming and website design, publishing and media, and of course foreign-language degrees, in addition to its current offerings.

  2. Depend yet more heavily on God’s providence, and show it publicly, by implementing a financial plan that follows God’s rule of reinvesting into His work the support that has been received for founding the institution. This could be, for example, helping to fund Adventist schools in developing countries, paying tithe (pre-profit) on gross tuition income, or something similar. God will provide the increase when we humbly trust Him and place our work and our will in His hands.

Mrs. White had much to say about founding and maintaining our schools. Among the more notable points, the following stand out in my mind:

  1. Avoid increasing the debt beyond ability to manage.
  2. Enlist the support of others in the church.
  3. Depend wholly on God for success.
  4. Do not consolidate with other institutions.
  5. Do not pattern after the world’s schools.

If we follow God’s counsels we will be much better positioned to succeed. When the church members understand the devotion of a school’s leaders, they will feel much more inclined to give in support of it.

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Well, no one has any reason to recognize a new accreditation body. They already exist. And forming one just for ourselves doesn’t make sense. Much of the point is that they’re independent.




The “Triple-A” accrediting association does just that: The association accredits SDA schools na colleges worldwide, including in some countries where they are the only accrediting agency—and they are taken seriously. However, in the US, we already have regional agencies and a couple of others that are program and type-specific, such as technical schools and Bible colleges. “Outside” accreditation protects students and the community from fraud and ensures that graduates meet the outcomes any graduate school or employer would expect. Otherwise, a graduate could rely only on an SDA graduate school to accept him or her for advanced study and could count on only church entities for employment. That time has passed—and it passed sometime after WWII. The AAA does a fine job at ensuring that spiritual life is supported by both academic study and a social environment, as well as that SDA schools and colleges maintain national standards.