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Oakwood University Board Votes Historic Recommendation


Oakwood University’s newsletter, sent out today, contained the significant announcement from the university’s president that the school wants to shift its sponsorship from the General Conference (it, along with Andrews University and Loma Linda University are GC institutions) to the North American Division. President Leslie Pollard wrote this message.

On August 6, 2014, after much deliberation, discussion, and prayer concerning where Oakwood University would find the best organizational placement for its unique mission in the 21st century, 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.

If the recommendation is voted at the October 15, 2014, Oakwood Constituency Session (to be held at the General Conference Headquarters in Silver Spring, Maryland), Oakwood University would become the first North American Division-sponsored institution of higher education in the Division’s 101-year history. Oakwood University would also join the emerging NAD portfolio of major institutions, such as Pacific Press Publishing Association, whose missions specifically focus on the advancement of the Seventh-day Adventist Church’s work in North America.

The August 6, 2014, vote culminated a nine-month conversation and a six-month exploration by a Board-appointed, GC-NAD Transition Taskforce,* chaired by Dr. Ella Simmons, General Conference Vice President and Vice Chair of the Oakwood University Board. On April 20, 2014, during the spring meeting, the University Board of Trustees formed and tasked the Transition Taskforce with the following responsibilities:

  1. to identify any and all relevant issues related to an organizational transition of Oakwood University to North American Division sponsorship;
  2. to propose solutions to said issues; and
  3. to prepare a recommendation to the Oakwood University Board of Trustees, General Conference and North American Division Committees.

The rationale for the recommendation of the Oakwood University Board of Trustees anticipates a number of benefits which would accrue to the Oakwood University enterprise. These benefits include:

  • Oakwood would find greater mission congruence and financial support within the Division most directly impacted by its operation – North America;
  • the decision to become a North American Division institution grants greater legal, constitutional, and voting influence to the core NAD constituencies served by Oakwood University;
  • the new organizational placement would reconcile the historic purpose for Oakwood’s founding with the focus, scope, and results of its 118-year operation.

While the Regional Presidents’ Caucus, the Oakwood University Administration, the North American Division Administration, and the General Conference Administration tender strong support for the Oakwood University Board recommendation, the prayers of all are sought as the Oakwood University Board’s recommendation moves to the October 15, 2014, constituency vote. The prayer of our church leadership is “may God’s will be done!”

– Dr. Leslie Pollard, President Oakwood University

Secretary, Oakwood University Board of Trustees

**The GC-NAD Transition Taskforce consists of: Daniel Jackson, NAD President and Oakwood University Board Chair; Robert E. Lemon, General Conference Treasurer and Oakwood University Finance Committee Chair; Leslie Pollard, Oakwood University President and Board Secretary; Alex Bryant, NAD Secretary; Lisa Beardsley-Hardy, General Conference Education Director; Ronald Smith, President, Southern Union; William Winston, President of the South Atlantic Conference, Vice Chair of the Oakwood University Board and President of the Regional Conference Presidents Council; Karnik Doukmetzian, General Conference Office of General Counsel; Tom Evans, NAD Treasurer; Larry Blackmer, NAD Vice President of Education; Dedrick Blue, Pastoral Representative to the Oakwood University Board; Cynthia Powell-Hicks, Business Owner and Board Member; Clifton Jessup, Attorney and Board Member, Miriam Battles, Administrative Assistant to the University President and Recording Secretary.

Invitees were Timothy McDonald, University Provost and Senior Vice President, Oakwood University and George Johnson Jr., Director of Integrated Marketing and Public Relations, Oakwood University.

Image: Oakwood administrators with General Conference President Ted Wilson on September 23.


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