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Atlantic Union College Suspends Operations with Washington Adventist University

According to its press release the Board of Trustees for Atlantic Union College voted on Wednesday, October 5, to suspend any further negotiations with Washington Adventist University. It states that “the institutions were unable to reach an operating agreement.”

This is the latest in an on-going struggle for viability, particularly after the New England Association of Schools and Colleges decided to discontinue AUC’s accreditation for financial reasons. On March 9, 2011, the Trustees of WAU voted a memorandum of understanding with AUC with the goal of operating the South Lancaster, Mass., school as a branch campus. It stated:

“We’re grateful that our enrollment growth and financial position enables us to continue to provide accredited higher education to the community and constituents that Atlantic Union College serves,” said Weymouth Spence, EdD, president of WAU. “Our desire is to build upon the rich heritage they’ve established with a focus on the future.”


Norman Wendth, PhD, president of AUC, added, “I have believed for many years that to unite Atlantic Union College with Washington Adventist University would create a truly impressive educational institution. I am deeply pleased that we can respond to AUC’s accreditation challenge in such a historically significant way.”

But the trouble continued into the summer. In July, the AUC website began directing students to enroll at WAU’s Maryland campus. The accompanying PDF reported:

After signing a memorandum of understanding and obtaining support from constituents of both the Atlantic Union Conference and Columbia Union Conference during the spring, leaders of the university have been working to secure approval from required federal, state, regional and church accrediting agencies for the establishment of a branch campus in South Lancaster, Mass.


As of this date, the Massachusetts Department of Higher Education is still processing the application and has not yet given its approval.

The October 7 statement on the suspension of negotiations adds that “AUC and its constituents will now look at other ways to maintain the mission of Adventist Christian higher education in the Atlantic Union Conference territory which includes the New England states, New York, and the islands of Bermuda. Washington Adventist University will continue to honor the arrangements in place that have facilitated the smooth transition of the former AUC students enrolled at the University.”

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