14 October 2018 | Atlantic Union College (AUC) is in the early stages of discussing the potential use of its facilities by a Chinese company looking to convert its campus into a prep school.
Last month a memorandum of understanding was signed between AUC and Eaglebridge Educational Holdings, a Hong Kong-based company that operates international schools mostly in China.
“The college closed its academic programming and now there is a need to go forward and find out some form of future use for the property,” said David Dennis, president of the Southern New England Conference of Seventh-day Adventists. “In their search for an interested party, there was one group that approached Atlantic Union and the Southern New England Conference wondered if there could be some partnership in making a college prep school.”
According to the Lowell Sun, the proposed deal is a partnership between Eaglebridge and the Atlantic Union of the Adventist denomination, which owns the land and buildings on campus as well as the Southern New England Conference, which operates South Lancaster Academy. The deal would include an affiliation between South Lancaster Academy and Eaglebridge.
The proposed deal would include a 50-year lease of a part of the AUC campus including Lenheim Hall, the Science Complex, the G. Eric Jones Library, the Chan Shun Dining Commons, and the Field Sports Center.
With only about 50 students enrolled in its final semester earlier this calendar year, AUC had been supported by constituent conferences of the Atlantic Union. This support started to erode in April 2017 when the Southern New England Conference voted to discontinue funding to the school. More recently, Greater New York Conference and the Bermuda Conference also reduced or ended funding for AUC, putting an incredible strain on the institution.
A March 2018 newsletter stated that the school’s board of trustees had voted to stop the accreditation process with the New England Association of Schools and Colleges. In addition, the school said that its pending request with the Massachusetts Department of Higher Education to extend their conditional approval to operate would also be withdrawn.
Atlantic Union College was first established in 1882 as a preparatory school. It became a degree-granting college in 1922. At its enrollment peak, the institution had over 700 students.