Cheryl Harris Kisunzu Appointed Provost

provost smTAKOMA PARK, Md. (June 13) - Cheryl Harris, Ph.D., RN, executive dean and director of nursing at Mountain View College, Dallas, Texas, has been appointed provost of Washington Adventist University (WAU), effective August 2013.

“I am excited about incorporating Dr. Kisunzu into the WAU leadership team,” said President Weymouth Spence, Ed.D. “I believe that her appointment will provide the stability, vision and energy that will help WAU meet the current and future needs of our students.”

Kisunzu holds a Ph.D. in educational leadership from Andrews University Berrien Springs, MI; M.S. in Nursing from Rush University, Chicago, IL and B.S.in Nursing, also from Andrews University/Berrien Springs.

She has held senior level positions in academic and administrative leadership, including grant administrator at Eastfield College, Mesquite, TX, and at different times, had responsibility for nursing, the life sciences, and human resources at William Rainey Harper College, Palatine, IL.   She has also taught at the community college and university levels for 14 years.

The search for a new provost for WAU began last fall when the University engaged the services of executive search firm, FaithSearch Partners, to identify well-qualified Adventist candidates.  Five individuals were interviewed by an internal panel, four of whom were invited to campus during April and May for  in-depth review by the entire campus community and members of the Board of Trustees.

“After carefully considering each candidate’s qualifications and strengths, as well as the campus community feedback, and after much prayer, I recommended Dr. Kisunzu to the Board of Trustees as the candidate who best fits the role of Provost.  At its special meeting, June 6, the Board concurred with my recommendation,” Dr. Spence said.

“I am extremely grateful to Dr. Patrick Williams who has served as Interim Provost since last July.  He has worked tirelessly to advance the academic agenda and I believe that he has orchestrated and laid significant groundwork for the institution for the future,” he added.

The president said Dr. Williams will continue to serve WAU as associate provost and dean of the School of Arts and Sciences.

“I look forward to his continued leadership and perspective as WAU continues to strengthen the academy.”

Adventist Accrediting Agency Says University is in Compliance

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TAKOMA PARK, Md. (May 31) -The Adventist Accrediting Association (AAA), at its April 2013 meeting, voted to accept the November 2012 regular site visit report to Washington Adventist University (WAU) and grant continued accreditation for the period ending December 2017. This is the maximum term of accreditation possible under AAA guidelines.

“The faculty worked hard to demonstrate compliance. I am proud of their work to help secure the maximum term of continued accreditation,” said President Weymouth Spence, Ed.D. “Our institution is on an excellent growth trajectory and this is just one more indicator.”

Spence said it is the aim of WAU to continue to improve all facets of its operation to become a thriving university in the competitive higher education market.

“In academics, the University aims to exceed institutional and accreditation standards; expand service learning; conduct on-going program review; make strategic reinvestment in the quality of programs; and promote and strengthen support services that reflect 21st century best practices,” he said.

The AAA is the denominational accrediting authority for all tertiary and graduate educational programs and institutions owned by Seventh-day Adventist Church entities. It focuses on ensuring that an institution is aligned with the mission of the Seventh-day Adventist Church.

“We are certainly pleased with this report,” Spence said.

Mission to Mauritius A Huge Success, Says Muganda

Mission to MauritiusTAKOMA PARK, Md. (May 30) - Washington Adventist University’s (WAU) trip to Mauritius is being hailed as a success by Vice President of Ministry Baraka Muganda, who, along with assistant professor Alvin Fuentes, led a group of nine students to the island in the Indian Ocean, off the southeast coast of Africa.

“It was a very good trip,” Muganda said. “It was satisfying for all involved.”

He said the young missionaries began preaching on May 11 and continued for the next 15 days, ultimately reaching over 2500 visitors who attended the meetings.

The team also conducted devotions every morning at the only Seventh day Adventist Academy in Mauritius and played games with the students.

“The trip has brought me closer to God,” said junior theology major Danielle Barnard. “It has shown me the purpose for my life; I feel like God made me for Mauritius and the church members affirmed me as a theology teacher.”

Junior biology major Georgianna Johnson was excited about her first mission trip.

“I loved it!” she said. “My main fear was that people would not accept me, but they kept coming back. It was a two in one blessing—witnessing to members and learning about God at the same time.”

Myrna Wylyan, a native of Nevis in the Caribbean, accompanied her daughter, Janelle Wylyan, a junior social work major, on the trip.

“I went because the Lord had blessed me marvelously and I wanted to serve Him through this opportunity. I have grown closer to God in the process. I will always consider joining my daughter on these mission trips.”

For her part, Janelle is humbled “that God could use a broken vessel like me to bring others closer to Him.” She too expressed the view that the trip has shown her a purpose for her life.

Noting the success of the trip, Fuentes said he wished more faculty and staff would join the students on mission trips.

“There is such joy to work with students—preaching the word of God,” he said.

At the end of the two weeks, 65 people were baptized in several churches while another baptism is planned for June.

Significant Growth in Learning Assessment Recorded

profrobertsKEV 3245 150TAKOMA PARK, Md. (May 28) - Washington Adventist University (WAU) submitted its monitoring report April 1, in continued compliance with regional accrediting body, the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE).   

Under the leadership of the chair of the newly formed academic assessment subcommittee, Dr. Melvin Roberts, the University demonstrated a significant increase in compliance since 2011, the time of the self-study. At that time, less than 50 percent of WAU departments had approved assessment plans in place. Today, all departments have at least one assessment plan documented, and most have curricular maps created and are documenting their learning outcomes in annual program reports.

“The real work was done by the academic departments. Without the efforts of the larger faculty in the planning and implementing stages, little progress would have been made,” Roberts said.

Over the past year, a response was required to MSCHE, on their findings from the self-study submitted and the 2012 site visit. Those processes are part of the 10-year accreditation process for MSCHE. Washington Adventist University met all 14 evaluation standard set by MSCHE.

On Standard 14, Student Learning Assessment, a monitoring report was required “documenting evidence of further implementation of an organized and sustained process to assess the achievement of student learning outcomes at the course, program, and institutional level, including (1) provision of increased institutional resources devoted to student learning outcomes assessment; (2) the integration of learning outcomes at the course, program, and institutional levels; and (3) the use of assessment results in academic planning at all levels.”

Last spring, Associate Vice President for the OIRE Janette Neufville, enlisted the services of Terra Schehr, the Associate Vice President of Institutional Research and Effectiveness at Loyola to help address inconsistencies in student learning outcomes assessment. Schehr made a presentation to the faculty at their annual colloquium last August and provided feedback and advice to departmental assessment plans during one-on-one sessions from late September through late October.

Neufville also enlisted the help of former MSCHE Vice President, Linda Suskie, to address deficiencies in learning assessment and recommend a plan to address the concerns raised by MSCHE. Suskie visited the university in September 2012 to review current Standard 14 practices and advised on the institution’s approach to student learning outcomes assessment and to the Monitoring Report.

New Leadership Society Chartered at Washington Adventist University

OmicronKEV 2782TAKOMA PARK, Md. (May 16) - Twenty-eight aspiring leaders from the University community officially became members of Omicron Delta Kappa, one of the nation’s most prestigious honors society, at a Charter ceremony held inside Sligo Seven-day Adventist Church, April 14.

President Weymouth Spence, Ed.D. , five alumni, led by Charles McMillan, Ph.D. (’77) , director of the Los Alamos Lab, and 2013 alumnus of the year, and three faculty members, including charter sponsor, Ralph Johnson, Ph.D., dean, student success and faculty development, were among the new inductees.

“I am very excited that it is here,” said Johnson, a 1982 initiate of OΔK .  “Washington Adventist University is the only Seventh-day Adventist institution to have a circle. The level of exposure that it gives our campus is enormous!”

Omicron Delta Kappa (OΔK), a diverse national leadership honor society, is the first of its kind to give recognition for leadership.  It  dates back to 1914, when  on December 3,  15 student and faculty leaders met at Washington and Lee University in Virginia  seeking to unify students of “all phases of college life,” as well as faculty into one body of leaders. In the shaping of this organization, the founders sought to portray the idealism and leadership of George Washington , America’s first President, and  General Robert E. Lee.  The idea gained recognition and more and more colleges established their “Circles.” Presently, there are Circles of Omicron Delta Kappa on over 300 institutions of higher learning, a number which now includes colleges is Washington Adventist University.

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To be eligible for membership, students must be in the top 35 percent of their class and demonstrate exemplary character and outstanding leadership in at least one of the five areas of campus life.

Each year the OΔK Foundation awards 20 scholarships of at least $1,000 to members planning to attend graduate or professional school. The General Russell E. Dougherty National Leader of the Year Award consists of a $4,000 scholarship and Circle grant to an outstanding member of OΔK.

For more information about the society’s awards, scholarships, membership, and activities, visit their website at www.odk.org.

Commencement Weekend, a Fitting End to Academic Year

graduation1TAKOMA PARK, Md. (May 7) - Commencement 2013, held at the DAR Constitution Hall, Sunday, May 5, marked a fitting end to the 2012-2013 academic year.   Consistent with the trend at  Washington Adventist University  (WAU) , it was bigger than ever as  large numbers of graduates, their friends and families  attended  a weekend of activities, including  Consecration on Friday and the Baccalaureate Ceremony on Saturday at Sligo Seventh-day Adventist Church, and  Commencement  ceremony on Sunday  at the historic Washington, D.C, facility.

Distinguished scientist and scholar and Vice President for Medical Affairs, University of Maryland, E. Albert Reece, MD, Ph.D., MBA, delivered the keynote address on Sunday, urging students to relentlessly pursue excellence in all that they do.

Reece cited a number of influential figures who attained great success after first experiencing hardship in some ways. His list included Apple’s former CEO, the late Steve Jobs, media mogul Oprah Winfrey, and renowned author of the Harry Potter series, J.K. Rollins, now one of the wealthiest women in the United Kingdom.

graduation2“Live your life in the relentless pursuit of excellence if you are to make a positive impact,” Reece said. “You cannot accomplish anything without being committed and focused on your goals and on Jesus.”

Further, Reece said graduates may have to discard some “maps and charts that have been made for them and urge them to take advantage of their place “on the precipice of a special time in history when science, art and technology are converging to change the world.”

President of the North American Division of Seventh-day Adventist Daniel R. Jackson, at the Baccalaureate service, urged graduates to live purposefully less they become among “the vague, the thoughtless and the foolish.”

“Do not lose your lives because you lack creativity—because you lack a plan,” he said. “Live with purpose! Live with Passion! Live proactively!”
And, at Consecration Service on Friday, Pastor Gary Wimbish, noted a changing world in which wrong and right are increasingly indistinguishable. He urged the graduates to heed the Biblical admonition and enter into the ‘narrow gate.”

“The essence of true happiness is to be an earnest seeker of truth and virtue,” he said. “This is beyond the development of the mind; one must have a passion for true virtue.”
Commencement 2013 marked the first year that WAU is celebrating this rite of passage as a single event. Historically, the school has held two ceremonies—one in April and a second in July.

Academic Awards Chapel Honors Outstanding Students and Faculty

awards1TAKOMA PARK, Md. (Apr. 30) – Academic Awards chapel, usually reserved for standout students at Washington Adventist University (WAU), departed from the norm this year to recognize two faculty members—Bruce Wilson, associate director of music, and Deria Gadsen, assistant registrar—whose distinguished service to the institution will end this year. Professor Zdravko Plantak, who is also stepping down as chair of the religion department, was also honored for his contributions to the university.

The event, which was held April 24 in Sligo Seventh-Day Adventist Church, recognized all students with grade point average of 3.0 and above. Students also received special departmental honors.

Ralph Johnson, Ph.D., dean for students success and faculty development, and  Fitzroy Thomas, assistant dean, presented certificates of recognition to junior education major Rebekah Brauner, who  had the highest GPA;  freshman English major Constance Greene;  Senior English major Melinda Hamerly;  senior education major Gabrielle Morrison; junior biology major  Christine Rosette; and  senior physical education major, Erin Wright.

From the English Department, junior English major Ashley Butler received the Joseph Shin Award, and senior English major Konstantin Kulakov, the Edith O. Stone Award. The History and Political Studies department recognized Senior Courtney Taylor, and the Psychology Department recognized juniors Mariah Crews, Adam Buttrick, Melissa Boyd, and Veronica Rojas and sophomore Beatrice Portillo.

The Music Department recognized several students, including:  Performer of the Year, senior Jonathan Keplinger, and Senior of the Year, David Byass. Additional scholarships and recognition were given to seniors Emelie Pla, Atecia Edwards, Lauren Simms and Aaron Tucker; freshman Jidong Zhong, and sophomore Sonali Singh.

The Department of Religion recognized several students, including student of the year, seniors Robert Machado, and Dudley Francois, who received the department’s leadership award; seniors Cedric Parker, Ramone Griffith and Brandon White, who received the service award, and Konstantin Kulakov, who was named Philosopher of Year.

Finally, the Social Work department named Nearlyne Noisette their outstanding senior, Alexandra Coleman as outstanding junior, while junior Nikole Donovan and senior Sarai Wright received a certificate of merit for academic achievement and certificate of commendation respectively.

Office of Ministry Ends School Year with 24 Baptisms

baptismTAKOMA PARK, Md. (May 1) –

Spiritual activities at Washington Adventist University ended on a high note this year with the baptism of 24 students Saturday, April 27. The baptisms were the outcome of Revival Week, March 31 to April 6, hosted on campus by the Office of Ministry.

“This Baptism was the crowning of our spiritual activities this year,” said Baraka Muganda, Vice President for Ministry. “Washington Adventist University is not only impacting the academic lives of our students; it is transforming their spiritual lives as well.”

Freshman Biology major Jibrill Morris, one of the new converts, said baptism was the most important commitment of his life.

"I have never fully committed myself to anyone or anything and I felt like I was living my life on a half way mark, I wanted to change that and be all I can for Jesus” he said.
Junior Psychology major Whitney Syriaque said she made the commitment in order to leave the past behind and focus on what is ahead.

“I am cleansed by the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit and that will be the only past that I will remember.”

Sophomore communication major Jordhon Horelien made the decision “because I wanted my relationship with God to be stronger. I believe that God has a calling on my life and I shouldn't waste time chasing worldly things.”

Chaplain for Ministry Regina Johnson could not be happier.

“April 27th was one of the best days of my life! I had the opportunity to witness the Gods hand move on 24 students.  This baptism was the beginning of what God wants to do with Washington Adventist University.”

The baptism, which took place at Sligo Seventh-day Adventist Church, was followed by a fellowship picnic on the WAU Commons.

“The next Week of Revival will be held again during spring of 2014. For more information about campus ministries on Washington Adventist University visit us on www.wau.edu.

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Assistant Registrar Looks to Retire, Named Honorary Alumnus

imagegadsden smTAKOMA PARK, Md. (Apr. 30) – Assistant registrar Deria Gale Anderson Gadsden will retire this summer after 16 years at Washington Adventist University (WAU) and 30 years in Adventist Christian Education.  Her service to the University was recognized during alumni weekend, April 12-14, when she was named an honorary alumnus of WAU.

“It has been an honor to work in this vineyard for the Lord. I have learned a deep trust in His plan and purpose for my life,” Mrs. G said. “CUC/WAU has fond memories for me.”

Mrs. G. joined WAU in 1997.  Since then, she has impacted the lives of hundreds of students. Tough as nails and loving as a mother, she encourages the values of hard work and pride.

An alumnus of Atlantic Union College and the University of Nebraska, she began her career in education as a teacher’s assistant at Vestal Hills Seventh-day Adventist (SDA) School, Binghamton, New York.  She later became school board chair, sat on the board of Union Springs Academy, and served on the K-12 Board of Education for New York Conference.  She later moved to Poughkeepsie, and worked at Poughkeepsie SDA School as a teacher assistant.  The next stop was Garden State Academy where she worked as assistant registrar, class sponsor and yearbook sponsor.

“The Alumni Association honors one individual every year who, although they never attended WAU, have demonstrated commitment to and love of Washington Adventist University and its students. It was our pleasure to recognize Mrs. G’s many years of service and to officially accept her as an Honorary Alumna,” said Ellie Barker, director of alumni relations.

The Zella Holbert Service Award was present to alumnus Glen Milam (’82) and student Bryan Jones.