By AT News Team, July 13, 2015: Atlantic Union College (AUC), the oldest Adventist institution of higher education located in the outer suburbs of Boston (Massachusetts), has announced that it will again offer classes starting August 24 this year. It closed four years ago because it lost accreditation after mounting financial problems and loss of enrollment.
The college has been approved to offer two bachelor’s degrees by the higher education department of Massachusetts, one in health science and the other in religion, according to the Telegram and Gazette in Worcester. It also plans to offer non-degree certificate programs in office management, bookkeeping and English as Second Language (ESL), the newspaper reported.
The board of trustees decided recently that the college likely would not get accreditation renewed until it began offering classes, the newspaper said. AUC had applied to be accredited by an international association of Christian schools but was refused because Adventists do not believe in the traditional notion of hell; that God works a miracle to keep unrepentant sinners alive so He can torture them forever.
“My level of confidence is high,” it quoted Dr. Avis D. Hendrickson, the new president of AUC, who has been dean of students at Housatonic Community College in Bridgeport, Connecticut. She is a member of Hunts Point Adventist Church in the Bronx, New York City.
So far about 40 students have submitted applications, the newspaper reported Chris Tulloch, AUC public relations coordinator, as saying. Hendrickson told the newspaper her hope is to enroll about 200 for the coming school year. The college is accepting students with at least a 2.2 grade point average in secondary school or a GED score of 2,700 or higher, stated registrar Issumael Nzamutuma.
“By 1993, with 82 percent of its students receiving financial aid, the college’s debt hit $6.2 million, forcing it to reach into its endowment funds until those too were exhausted,” reported the Metro West edition of the Daily News. In 1995, AUC had an $11 million debt and the following year negotiated a merger with Andrews University, but this was turned down by the AUC board. In 1998 the regional accrediting body (New England Association of Schools and Colleges, NEASC) after a campus visit issued 28 citations of weaknesses that needed to be changed. In 2001 it issued a warning and in 2003 put AUC on probation. In 2010 AUC lost its accreditation as of July 2011.
During the four years when the college was shut down, the Atlantic Union Conference paid off most of its debt, which puts it in a better financial position. But the lack of accreditation means that students cannot get Federal loans or grants. In an attempt to make up for this, AUC is charging only $18,000 in tuition for the next school year, about $6,000 less than in the past.
The college is seeking students from Massachusetts who are interested in a Christian college experience, not just the traditional market restricted to Adventist families. It is hiring mostly adjunct faculty to reduce the cost of operation. AUC is one of 14 Adventist colleges and universities in North America.