August 15, 2017: Adventist Today reached out to Atlantic Union College president, Dr. Avis Hendrickson, regarding the recently-filed Change.org petition critiquing the institution.
The petition was titled “End Atlantic Union College’s Scam.” It was filed anonymously on Saturday by someone who claims to be a female student at the school.
The author said that she felt the school had “scammed” students by its supposed lack of transparency about challenges it is facing. She felt this had put students at risk.
Dr. Hendrickson responded to the petition with a letter issued to another Adventist publication. She also authorized Adventist Today to publish her response. It is included in full below:
I hope you and your loved ones are in good health. I appreciate your extending to Atlantic Union College the opportunity to offer a perspective on the e-mail you forwarded to our attention from an “anonymous student.”
Since the restart of the academic programs in the fall 2015, our emphasis with the constituency has been “Unity and Reconciliation.” This focus was discussed at a Board of Trustees forum during the 2015 Alumni Weekend. It continues to be an area that needs to be promoted and supported as exemplified by the anonymous student’s petition. Nevertheless, we remain encouraged.
Attention has been given to transparency and communication with all members of the College constituency: Union, conferences, churches, faculty, staff, students, and local areas surrounding the College. There are published newspaper articles, monthly faculty and staff meetings, individual meetings with faculty, staff, and students, for the delivery of information on college updates and questions from the participants. A monthly e-newsletter, The Ambassador, is sent to all the constituents.
Transparency is further emphasized with the students regarding the accreditation status of the College during the admissions process. Students are informed about the accreditation status and sign a form acknowledging receipt and understanding of the accreditation information.
Atlantic Union College has withdrawn accreditation applications from two (2) accrediting bodies, primarily for an incongruence of their tenets with Adventist doctrine. Accreditation is important but not at the risk of compromise. NEASC (New England Association of Schools and Colleges), the regional accrediting body, is the group the college is working with to gain accreditation. To date, the college has made measurable progress.
In the interest of the academic standing of students, the College has worked on obtaining articulation agreements with Adventist institutions of higher education. There is an articulation agreement with Southwestern University and an articulation agreement with Andrews University awaiting signatures. Additional articulation agreements are being sought from more institutions.
On the AUC seal are the words “FIAT LUX” (Let there be light). The mission of Atlantic Union College, a Christian college in the Seventh-day Adventist tradition, is to educate diverse individuals who will graduate and excel in their service-centered professions and actively participate in community services. The Community Engagement component of the curriculum envelops “Christ’s method alone.” Christ ministered to people’s needs before inviting them to follow Him: “Christ’s method alone will give true success in reaching the people. The Savior mingled with men as one who desired their good. He showed His sympathy for them, ministered to their needs, and won their confidence. Then He bade them, ‘Follow Me.’” The Ministry of Healing, p. 143. Ellen G. White.
AUC offers certificate programs based upon recognized professional standards and offers certification recognized by authoritative third parties. These programs are short term, allowing graduates meeting the certification standard to be employed in less time than it would take to complete a traditional four-year degree program. The AUC difference is that students are on a campus surrounded by a culture of Graciousness, Dignity, Respect, and Christian love. All students are required to take a religion course. This training and exposure in the Seventh-day Adventist religion course (Christian Living in the 21st Century) support a students’ choice to share Christ in the workplace.
The AUC Board of Trustees lowered the tuition to nearly half of the cost to attend a private institution of higher education. Students are encouraged to work on or off campus in order to meet their financial need. This method supports students’ graduating with little or no debt. Presently, AUC is operating without federal financial assistance. The College is owned by the Atlantic Union. The financial matter regarding funding from the conferences is an issue under the purview of the Atlantic Union Conference. They are giving attention to this matter.
AUC is open. The NAD feasibility study is a matter of process in the Adventist Accrediting Association (AAA). It is a fact-finding mission. This study is for the division administration to determine whether or not they will ask the GC to do an accreditation visit. If NAD, with the recommendation from the Atlantic Union, determines that there is a need and desire for higher education that is not already available to the constituents, NAD will recommend an accreditation visit. (excerpts from e-mail dated July 27, 2017, Dr. Blackmer). NAD must have information to make a decision. The fact-finding mission is to determine the perceived needs of the constituency. Atlantic Union College is a Seventh-day Adventist college serving the constituency of the Atlantic Union. Students of other faiths are welcome to attend based on their adherence to the values and regulations of the institution.
Course of study at AUC also includes a B.A. in Theology/Religion and a B.S. in Health Science/Biology. Both support the Seventh-day Adventist denomination’s doctrine and health message.
Students at Atlantic Union College, since 2015 to today, have advisors, faculty, staff, administrators and the college President willing to talk with them. This anonymous student, as God’s Holy Spirit guides, is invited to continue the discussion with any of those mentioned in this article.
In Christian Service,
Dr. Avis Hendrickson,
President Atlantic Union College.