Skip to content

Fifteen Stories that Define 2014 in Adventist Higher Ed


Life moves at fast pace on a Adventist college and university campuses, and if you’re not there, it’s easy to miss what is happening! Here is a list of the most compelling stories that took place on Adventist campuses of higher learning in 2014, placed in chronological order.

January 21. Academic Freedom Alleged Under Attack at PUC.
In January, Pacific Union College professors, alumni, and students started a campaign entitled “Stand With PUC” when academic freedom was allegedly being restricted on the PUC campus. Monte Butler, the chair of PUC’s Psychology and Social Work department announced his resignation for the end of the school year after a purported conflict with university president Heather Knight over content he discussed in his classes. His resignation fueled rumors, and even gained the attention of a few local publications. 

March 7. Judge Rules In Favor of La Sierra.
After several years of legal battles, the lawsuit filed by three former LSU administrators and faculty members against La Sierra University and the Pacific Union Conference of Seventh-day Adventists among key defendants was ruled to be without legal merit. Los Angeles attorney, and editor Michael Peabody suggested weeks earlier that the lawsuit was falling apart. Despite the plaintiffs’ arguments that they were forced to resign unjustly after teaching evolution in LSU biology classes, the judge ruled the action was legally justified.

May 18. Viewpoint: A Crisis of Leadership at Washington Adventist University.
Washington Adventist University underwent a major faculty shift in March when several professors were laid off due to budget constraints. Three departments on campus were left with one professor each and the English department no longer had a department chair.  Soon after, WAU’s nursing department lost its accreditation.

May – December. Key Administrative Appointments on Adventist Campuses.
In May, Union College in Lincoln, Nebraska named Vinita Sauder its president, marking the first time in the college’s history a woman led the institution. On November 7, Southwestern Adventist University inaugurated Ken Shaw, the university’s successor to Eric Anderson as university president. After a very difficult year, Atlantic Union College named Avis Hendrickson president (another first woman president!) and announced plans to offer certificate programs. In December, Oakwood University announced that Tricia Pennicook would replace C. Garland Dulan as Vice President for Academic Affairs.

August 21. Walla Walla and Washington Adventist University Lose Nursing Program Accreditation.
Walla Walla University’s nursing program lost its accreditation not long after Washington Adventist University lost its accreditation. The report caused confusion among many of Walla Walla’s 190 nursing students who worried about what this would mean for their future. After appealing the denial, ACEN extended Walla Walla’s accreditation with a warning in November. WAU appealed the decision on August 14, but ACEN did not overturn the decision to deny baccalaureate accreditation, and accreditation has not yet been reinstated.

August 22. Andrews Seminary Issues Statement on Headship
Andrews University Seminary faculty made waves by wading into the women’s ordination discussion with a strongly-worded statement on headship. The statement asserted that the Church’s only legitimate head is Christ, and that “while there exists legitimate leadership in the Church, no other human being may rightfully claim a headship role in the Church.”

September 25. Oakwood University Board Votes Historic Recommendation.
On August 6, 2014, the 37-member Oakwood University Board of Trustees assembled in Battle Creek, Michigan, and voted overwhelmingly to recommend to the Oakwood University Constituency Session that Oakwood University become a sponsored institution of the North American Division of Seventh-day Adventists, leaving the auspices of the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists. Delegates at the 2014 Annual Council in Silver Spring voted to approve the recommendation.

October 23. Southern Adventist University Student Leads LGBT Collegiate Coalition.
After being led by Andrews University student Eliel Cruz for over three years, Southern Adventist University student Jefferson Clark took charge of the LGBT Collegiate Coalition, effective the summer of 2014. Clark hopes to continue Cruz’s mission of bringing awareness to the LGBTQ communities present on Adventist university and college campuses. He is optimistic that an increased awareness of these groups will bring more safety to students. 

October 10. PUC Chaplain Preaches “Adam and Steve” Sermon. PUC Subsequently Requests Removal of the Video.
During Pacific Union College’s week of worship, PUC chaplain and Pacific Union College Church associate pastor Jonathan Henderson presented a series about relationships, including relationships that fall into the LGBTQ category. Broadcasted on the PUC website, the sermon went viral on social media, sparking conversation and conflict. A few weeks later, the recorded sermon was quietly removed from the PUC website, which instigated both backlash and support. PUC student Kari Stickle wrote a reflection on the events that generated further conversation.

November 19. La Sierra University, Oakwood University and Southern Adventist University Buck Negative Enrollment Trend.
The release of annual enrollment revealed that La Sierra University broke records again with their high enrollment numbers. For the fifth year in the row, they continued an upward trend, moving away from the tendency of other institutions that have seen moderate enrollment declines. This year, LSU enrollment included 2,510 students, topping the record they set last year with 2,478. Oakwood and Southern had strong Fall numbers too.

November 6. WWU Student Body President’s Inside Look at NAD Year-end Meetings.
The North American Division moved to allow “permanent NAD Executive Committee voice and vote to student association presidents from colleges and universities within the NAD.” In November, student association presidents traveled from all over the United States to be present at the NAD Year-End meetings, bridging a gap between the younger and older generations and allowing for meaningful conversations and actions to occur.

December 7. Young Adventists Join #BlackLivesMatter Protests.
Adventist university and college students joined demonstrations against the grand jury ruling that did not indict NYPD Officer Daniel Pantaleo his role in the death of an unarmed black man, Eric Garner. Their peaceful protest was part of a nationwide protest against racial profiling that led to unwarranted deaths.

December 11. Loma Linda University Health Expands with $10M Tribal Casino Gift.
Loma Linda University Health broke ground on a new facility in San Bernardino, California, that will provide health care services, employment opportunities and education in one of the regions of the United States hardest hit by the Great Recession. A $10 million gift from the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians will go toward the teaching facility to be named the San Manuel Gateway College.

December 15. Canadian University College Board Approves Changing Official Name To Burman University.
The CUC Board of Trustees voted to approve the name change of Canadian University College to Burman University after the husband and wife pair who founded the institution in 1907. The Alberta government granted the school permission to change its name from “university college” to “university.” The name change will occur after the completion of the 2014-2015 academic school year.

December 16. Self-Accreditation Will Usher in New Era for Avondale College.
Avondale College of Higher Education became the first Australian non-university higher education provider granted self-accrediting authority by the country’s national regulator. President Professor Ray Roennfeldt described the granting of self-accrediting authority as a “new era for Avondale.” “While self-accrediting authority does not provide university status, it does require that the institution’s internal processes are at least as robust and rigorous as that of a university. So, in this regard, it is a large step towards the fulfilment of Avondale’s vision to be an Australian Christian university.”


Rachel Logan is a writing intern for Spectrum Magazine.

Subscribe to our newsletter
Spectrum Newsletter: The latest Adventist news at your fingertips.
This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.