Seventh-day Adventist Higher Education in North America Issues Statement During COVID-19 Pandemic Closures

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Published:
April 24, 2020

Seventh-day Adventist higher education prepares graduates to serve and lead in the 21st century by investing in the development of the whole person. Through rigorous academic study in healthy, faith-affirming environments, students develop their problem solving, creativity, judgment, character, ethical reasoning, and other skills that distinguish them in their careers and prepare them to be contributing members of the church and society. Such an education seeks to restore the image of God in humanity, foster wholeness and healing for people and planet, express the joy of Sabbath rest and hope of Christ’s return, and produce living testimonies to the love of God.

Although the current COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted our campuses, temporarily transitioning us to remote education, our mission remains the same. Driven by passionate care for our students, our faculty and staff are innovating to sustain a quality, whole-person education for the duration of this crisis. Such an approach to education is proving to be more relevant than ever, helping our students understand, navigate, and contribute to the global response to this pandemic. Faculty have reworked their curricula for remote delivery, training in new technologies and teaching methods. Many are making use of video conferencing technology; some have constructed their own recording studios to produce quality instructional content. While the adjustment has been sudden, students appreciate the ongoing care, commitment, and expertise of their professors. Nevertheless, we recognize the emotional toll of the crisis on our campus communities. Using new platforms, such as podcasts, regular online meetings with campus chaplains, and remote emotional support, we continue to prioritize serving the emotional and spiritual needs of our students and communities.

During this time of social distancing, faculty and staff are finding innovative ways to stay connected with students, such as virtual office hours and online social gatherings. Although our gyms and wellness centers are closed, many of our campuses are delivering virtual fitness classes and other wellness content online. Several of our dining halls have found novel approaches to help feed local students and community members. In response to the need for healthcare workers, the nursing students at a number of our institutions are stepping up to assist on the front lines. All of our colleges and universities are praying for and finding ways to serve the many lives impacted by the pandemic.

In addition to temporarily moving our education and other services online, this crisis has intensified the significant challenges that have been facing public and private institutions of higher education in North America for a number of years. While we are supported by the faithful generosity of our church constituents, alumni, and other donors, we are honestly addressing the added financial burden and enrollment uncertainty raised by the pandemic. We also recognize that this crisis has disrupted the work and lives of our students and their families, introducing new financial difficulties and other hardships for them. To better meet the needs of our students, we commit to continuing to innovate, embracing new models that ensure the sustainability of affordable Seventh-day Adventist higher education in the United States and Canada.

Since the Chicago Summit of 2018, Adventist higher education institutions have been working to foster meaningful collaboration between our campuses, resisting self-protective instincts in favor of championing common mission in the face of common challenges. While we are very much at home in our local communities, conferences, and unions, such collaboration is necessary for us to best serve our students from across North America and around the world. Our commitment to whole-person education is unchanging, but we recognize that Adventist higher education must continue to adapt and innovate in the years ahead. Together we can shape that future. We ask for you to keep our campuses and students in prayer; and we invite your partnership and on-going support, helping us to continue our rich legacy of preparing graduates equipped to meet the needs of the world.

 

This statement was written by the Constituents of the Association of Adventist Colleges and Universities, and originally published on the North American Division website. It is reprinted here with permission.

Image courtesy of the Association of Adventist Colleges and Universities.

 

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