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WAU President: The end of AUC as we know it

In an undated article posted in the last few days, the Adventist Review touts a news story that mostly repeats a March 10 item from the Adventist News Network about Washington Adventist University becoming the sole provider of education on the campus of Atlantic Union College. The Adventist Review includes, with slight changes, a quote from AUC president Norman Wendth calling the March 10 (the Review calls it March 11) agreement between the two institutions “historically significant.”

“I have believed for many years that to unite Atlantic Union College with Washington Adventist University would create a truly impressive educational institution.”

The only major difference is that it adds on the following detail, apparently from a more recent conversation with WAU President Weymouth Spence.

In a separate telephone interview, Spence said the move effectively is the “end” of AUC “as we know it,” saying this is “because they have lost regional accreditation,” which qualifies the school for federal student loans and grants. He said the buildings and land of the AUC campus would continue to be owned by the Atlantic Union Conference, and that WAU would lease the property. He also indicated additional hiring may be needed at AUC if enrollment increases.

Perhaps the flagship paper has been too busy slanting the news about La Sierra University to cover the “historically significant” merger of two academic institutions in its own backyard. Given that one college has lost its regional accreditation and Washington Adventist University’s president says that it’s the end of AUC as we know it, there appear to be some important unreported questions surrounding this impending union of two academic institutions.

On April 5 WAU-AUC released the following statement:

The Trustees of Washington Adventist University (WAU) today voted to proceed with a formal agreement to establish a branch campus at Atlantic Union College (AUC) in South Lancaster, Mass. They voted a business plan, new governance structure and operating plan for the branch campus.

The university will now seek approval from required state, regional and church accrediting agencies. In addition, WAU officials will present the plan to delegates at the Washington Adventist University Constituency April 15. In turn AUC officials will present the plan at the Atlantic Union College Board of Trustees meeting April 11 and constituency meeting June 13.

On Washington Adventist University’s website Taashi Rowe helpfully reports on the April 15 constituency meeting:

The delegates also addressed the university’s addition of a branch campus in South Lancaster, Mass., at Atlantic Union College (AUC). Many noted the historic nature of the proceedings, which means that two unions—the Columbia Union Conference and the Atlantic Union Conference—will partner to operate one university. Each will contribute financially and have representatives on the board.


WAU constituency delegates unanimously voted to accept the new bylaws effective immediately and subject to ratification by the AUC constituency meeting June 13. If that happens, WAU will now offer Seventh-day Adventist higher education to students in 15 states and the islands of Bermuda.


“This is a mile-marker for us,” shared Neville Harcombe, Columbia Union Conference executive secretary. “We need to take care of the educational needs of our young people on the East Coast.”

. . .

Spence explained that adding a branch campus was an opportunity not only for WAU, but for the Adventist Christian educational system. “There are many of our institutions that have been struggling financially for years, and this historic vote starts a trend, hopefully, that will bring our schools together for the long-term sustainability of Adventist Christian education overall,” he remarked.

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