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Columbia Union College Board of Trustees Approves Landmark Decisions

New Columbia Union College President Weymouth Spence, Ed.D., R.T., and the CUC Board of Trustees, took four major actions in their Wednesday, March 5, 2008, meeting, each relevant to aggressively growing the school’s future.

“First and foremost, we want our constituents to know, we are staying in Takoma Park and are committed to revitalizing our present campus,” said Spence. “The Board has confirmed this for the third time in the last several months. We are on the same page. Now it’s time for all our constituents to join us and put away, once and for all, the idea of moving or closing CUC.”

The Board’s second action, in harmony with Spence’s vigorous timetable for jumpstarting CUC’s future, is the unanimous approval of a revised strategic plan for the college, now known simply as The Plan.

“I want to thank previous administrations, and the current faculty and staff, who wrote the original strategic plan that was adopted in 2004. It’s now time to complete its implementation, but with a few revisions,” declared Spence.

The third action for Spence and the Board is the immediate implementation of The Plan’s reorganization of CUC’s academic offerings.

“The first step is to implement what has been called the three-school model. As of the beginning of the 2008–2009 school year, CUC will be organized into three areas—a School of Graduate and Professional Studies, a School of Health Professions and Wellness, and a School of Arts and Social Sciences.” The implementation of the School of Health Professions is expected to begin in June.

Each school will have its own programs of distinction. Due to market conditions and anticipated growth potential, some underperforming areas of study, such as Media Studies and Entrepreneurship, have been cut from the college’s offerings while other high-demand programs, such as Forensic Psychology and Radiography, will soon be added.

The Board also adopted Spence’s carefully balanced 2008–2009 budget, which projects no increase in tuition and a flat enrollment. The 2008–2009 budget will be about $750,000 less than the current 2007—2008 budget, and includes aggressive-but-realistic goals for fundraising.

“The budget must be balanced. A culture of excellence demands it. We will not operate in the red. This budget allows for improved cash flow during the summer and for necessary infrastructure improvements such as repairs and upgrades in the residence halls,” Spence explained. “I believe we cannot cut our way to success, so we will also develop new initiatives; but we had to make this budget work for the greater long-range good of the college.

“Admittedly, some of these changes are personally painful, but a vine must endure some pruning to thrive and produce the best fruit,” said Spence. “The most difficult part was not funding several faculty and staff positions because some programs were underperforming. These changes have been driven by recent research and by The Plan, and will give us stronger academic and operational offerings to meet market demands. However, because of our strategic reengineering, there will also be some new hires.

“The real landmark decision relative to infrastructure is our decision to move ahead with planning for a badly needed building. We’ve lost five buildings and gained one since the early 1960s, and we need a building that will give the greatest return for the money and improve the lives of the most people possible,” said Spence. “A new building for health and wellness programs, and student activities, creates opportunities for new partnerships with the community that may include state and private foundation monies.” He explained that this initiative does not eliminate the plan to match the $2.25 million in state money for a performing arts education facility.

Spence also said that Columbia Union College will deliver the best possible customer service in every possible facet of college life for its students.

“Their satisfaction is crucial to our success. We will recruit the best and the brightest students to fulfill the church and the community’s employment and service needs, and they will be excited to come here. Future research will show that grad schools and employers are also satisfied with the caliber of student they get from CUC,” said Spence.

Scott Steward is executive director of marketing and communications at Columbia Union College.

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