Dr. Weymouth Spence is the nineteenth president of Washington Adventist University, located near the nation’s capital in Takoma Park, Maryland. Washington Adventist University (WAU) is one of the fourteen higher education institutions in North America with an affiliation to the Seventh-day Adventist Church. He began his presidency at WAU in January 2008 and during his tenure has put together a leadership team that elevated and transformed the former Columbia Union College (CUC) to university status and is continuing to build on the legacy of former presidents to elevate the University standing to one of international distinction.
Among his accomplishments as president has been to refocus the University’s strategic plan to fulfill the University’s mission and vision and to rollout the six pillars of institutional excellence - quality, people, finance, growth, service and community. Recent accomplishment include the largest enrollment ever in 2012, largest graduating class ever, reaffirmed ten-year accreditation from Middle States Commission for Higher Education, completion of a campus master plan that realized the first new building on the campus in forty years – The Leroy and Lois Peters Music Center, created a vice president for ministry position that now focus on the spiritual development of the entire university community, and a significantly improved fiscal standing.
In the course of his commitment to building a culture of institutional excellence that is focused on student outcomes, he recently launched the Vision 2020 goals for building a thriving university that will hold true to the mission/vision of WAU, which is to serve and educate students, ultimately helping them achieve their desired goals and highest potential for service.
Prior to his appointment as WAU President, Dr. Spence served in leadership positions for over 30 years in higher education and health care institutions as program director, dean and vice president for academic administration. He holds an Arts and Science degree from Northern Caribbean University, a B.Sc. in biology from Atlantic Union College, an Associate in Science degree in Radiography from Kettering College of Medical Arts, a Master of Science degree in Curriculum, Research and Administration from Central Connecticut State University and a Doctorate in Vocational/Technical/ Occupational Education from Nova Southeastern University.
Dr. Spence has served on many institutional boards; he currently is a member of the Adventist Health Care and the Washington Adventist Hospital boards. He has served as an officer and member of professional organizations. In 2006 he was recognized for providing the leadership for developing and implementing the first inter-state accredited RN program between San Antonia, Texas and Phoenix, Arizona. He was recently recognized by the Columbia Union Conference of Seventh-day Adventist as a Notable Person of Honor for his leadership accomplishments. Dr. Spence’s hero is Jesus Christ and he believes that modeling the life and teachings of Jesus is the answer to every problem.
He is married to the former Rebecca Brown and they have two children, Melissa and Weymouth II and two grandchildren, Aidan, 5 and Olivia, 3.
Vision 2020: Building a Thriving University
Washington Adventist University (WAU), from its base in scenic Takoma Park, Maryland, is laying out its set of goals to be achieved by the end of the second decade in the 21st century: 2020
Buoyed by a recent growth spurt, not previously seen in its 108 years, WAU is seeking to build a stable brand, characterized by programmatic excellence as well as take advantage of the unique status it enjoys as the only four year residential college in Montgomery County, a diverse and largely affluent suburb of Washington, DC.
Weymouth Spence, Ed.D. , president for the past five years, says Vision 2020 is a continuation of the planning process to create a culture of excellence at Washington Adventist University.
“Based on assessments conducted throughout the past four years, such as graduate surveys, employee satisfaction surveys, learning outcomes, we now have the data that will guide us to develop action plans that will transform us into a thriving university, Spence said. “We are developing game changing actions under the six institutional pillars of excellence: quality, people, finance, growth service, and community.”
Those game changing plans are geared toward creating a culture of excellence, modeled on the Baldrige Program, a high octave formula designed to raise awareness about the importance of performance excellence in driving the U.S. and global economy. The program stresses assessment and educates institutional leaders about organizational best practices.
“It is important to note that we are not redoing the strategic plan,” Spence explained. “Vision 2020 is a projection of where we would like to be. What we are seeking to do, therefore, is to get input from the community—from staff, faculty, the board of trustees on some concept and directions that we need to take.”
Consequently, the president said he expects that some things may be added while some could be discarded. “The overall goal is to focus on what we need to do to become a thriving university.”
Ultimately, the president sees WAU’s quest for excellence centered around: 1) exceeding institutional and accreditation standards; 2) developing a strong curriculum in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM); 3) emphasizing service learning; 4) on-going program review; and continuous strategic reinvestment in the quality of programs. Programs would be designed to foster greater collaboration with K-12 institutions, strengthen remedial education as well as liberal arts and STEM curricular and attract more federal, state, foundation and private funds.
“Academic administration, inclusive of the deans, chairs, faculty and leaders of academic units are fully committed to the vision of the University which is to “produce graduates who bring competence and moral leadership to their communities,” said interim provost, Patrick Williams.
Williams identified key goals to be accomplished as part of the strategic initiative as: promoting academic excellence; hiring and retaining outstanding faculty who are committed to the mission of WAU; developing an outstanding center for student success and faculty development; establishing strong educational opportunities through on-line/distance learning that are accessible and affordable to non-traditional students; affirming the importance of service learning as a core element of the curriculum; providing instructional technology to enhance the learning and working environment; promoting and supporting a culture of academic assessment that can inform academic leaders and administration in decision making; and promoting and strengthening academic support services that reflect 21st century best practice such as the library and the office of the registrar.
Significantly improving the financial health of the institution is another critical component of Vision 2020. After struggling financially for many years, the institution, within the past seven years has made a turnaround and is now on a positive growth trajectory. Increased enrollment, contributions from alumni and friends, and prudent budgetary choices, have contributed to the institutions improved financial performance. The Consolidated Financial Index (CFI) score, a higher education financial health measurement, currently beats the average of all private colleges in Maryland.
“My goal is definitely to keep WAU on this positive trajectory. By meeting and exceeding our fiscal targets, we are positioning ourselves to make both the physical and programmatic changes that are necessary for WAU to grow and be true to our vision of producing graduates who bring competence and moral leadership to their communities,” said Patrick Farley, executive vice president for Finance and Administration.
Alignment of budget with the strategic plan, establishing a sustainable endowment, establishing working capital, generating additional revenue, enhancing fundraising and budgeting for surplus or other important financial targets, Farley said.
Ultimately, Spence envisions all round growth at the University. Physically, he envisions the student population growing to a total of 3000, on campus and online. This will necessitate purchasing or leasing new buildings, adding new programs and at least two schools: para-legal/law and medical education. He also envisions the university expanding to international locations as well as having a greater regional, national and international visibility.
Washington Adventist University Board of Trustees
The Board of Trustees is the University’s governing body. Among its responsibilities, the 31 member entity appoints the president and other officers of the university, directs the officers to carry out institution’s business, adopt policies consistent with the articles of incorporation and the bylaws for the guidance of the officers, appoint trustees to vacant seats, remove trustees for cause by an affirmative vote of not less than two-thirds of the total membership of the board, grant emeritus status to administrative and academic personnel, and appoint members to all standing or ad hoc committees of the Board of Trustees and set the scope and authority of the committee to act and/or report.
The current executives include:
Patrick Farley earned his undergraduate degree in Business Administration from the University of Maryland and a Communications degree from Washington Adventist University. He also holds a M.S. in Finance from the University of Baltimore.
Farley has been in this position since July, 2004. From 2002 to 2004, he served as controller at WAU. Prior to joining WAU, Farley worked in the communication and government contracting industry as controller, senior accountant and staff accountant.
Cheryl Harris Kisunzu has been appointed provost of Washington Adventist University (WAU), effective August 2013. She is the former executive dean and director of nursing at Mountain View College Dallas, Texas.
Kisunzu holds a Ph.D. in educational leadership from Andrews University Berrien Springs, MI; M.S. in Nursing as a Family Nurse Practitioner from Rush University, Chicago, IL; and B.S. in nursing, also from Andrews University, Berrien Springs. Her special area of interest is that of leading change for progressive excellence in higher education as defined by Kotter’s 8-Step Model . Consistent with this passion, the focus of her doctoral research is the analysis of performance excellence at our nation’s three Malcolm Baldrige Award winning institutions through which she determined strategies used, by academic leaders of distinction, for anchoring change in higher education.
She has held senior level positions of progressive academic and administrative leadership, including grant administrator at Eastfield College Mesquite, Texas for its historic 1.4 million dollar Texas Workforce Commission Grant, Vice President for Human Resources and Organizational Development as well as the administrator for the Life Science Human Services Division and Director of the Nursing Program at Harper College Palatine, IL She has also over 14 years of teaching experience achieved through faculty appointment at Vanderbilt University Nashville, TN, Loma Linda University Loma Linda, CA, St. Louis Community College Meramec St. Louis, MO and Harper College Palatine, IL. She currently retains an adjunct faculty position in the doctoral program of leadership at Andrews University. As the WAU chief academic officer she serves as Professor. Of significance is that Dr. Kisunzu believes in the unique value and potential of each student entrusted to the university’s care. She considers it a joy to lead in a manner which ensures that their learning prepares them for Daniel 1:20 eternal distinctiveness in life service which responds to the needs of our global society in a manner that is both relevant and progressively enriching.
Lincoln McKenzie is the vice president for advancement and university relations. He began his tenure on July 1.
Prior to joining WAU, he served as an Education Evangelist for the Southeastern California Conference to teach and preach the Biblical principles of Christian education.
McKenzie earned his Bachelor’s in Theology from Northern Caribbean University. He later earned an M.A. and doctorate in Administration and Leadership from Loma Linda University and a certificate in fundraising from Indiana University.
McKenzie has served in education since 1967 and brings over 14 years of fundraising experience, including a wide background in higher education. His philosophy and practice of philanthropy is the belief that since God gave us everything, we should give back to our Giver by giving to others for “living is giving and giving is living.”
McKenzie is guided further by the life and teaching of Mahatma Gandhi, adopting as his mantra’s the leaders’ edict: “Live simple so others can simply live.”
Baraka Muganda holds a doctorate in education, and an M.A. in religion from Andrews University.. He earned his B.A. in theology from Solusi University, Zimbabwe. Prior to joining Washington Adventist University, Muganda served as president of the Tanzania Adventist College in 1984 and as the World Youth Director of the Seventh-day Adventist church from June 1995 to June 2010. Both positions offered a wealth of multicultural and multinational experience.
Muganda also lectures on youth ministry leadership at the Adventist University of Africa and is an advisor in the doctoral program at the Andrews Seminary in Michigan.
William Jackson earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from Columbia Union College and his teacher certification from Atlantic Union College. He began his teaching career at what was Toronto Junior Academy in Canada in 1974. He joined Highland View Academy in 1978 and served, first as the religion history teacher and later as vice-principal until 1994 when he went to work for the Brook Grove Foundation as director of Development and Facilities. In 1996, he joined Columbia Union College as the director of Marketing for the Adult Evening Program. When the AEP became the School of Graduate and Professional Studies, he assumed the role as director of Enrollment Services. He held that position until September of 2009 when he was named vice president for Marketing and Recruiting for the University.
Jean Warden earned her bachelor of arts degree from the University of LaVerne, LaVerne California and a master of arts from California State Polytechnic. She began her tenure as Vice President for Student Life in July, 2002. Prior to joining WAU, Warden served as minority recruitment director, and director of diversity at Southern California University of Health Sciences and executive director, Los Angeles Opportunities Industrialization Center, in addition. She also served as adjunct faculty at American River College. Her experience in higher education spans more than 20 years.
Janette Neufville is the Associate Vice President of Institutional Research and Effectiveness. For twenty-five years prior to joining WAU, she served as an analyst, business consultant and program manager at various Fortune 500 companies, including Nasdaq, Andersen Consulting (now Accenture), EDS (now Hewlett Packard), and Sprint Nextel. Neufville earned a bachelor's degree in Electrical Engineering from Swarthmore College in Swarthmore, Pennsylvania. Neufville is responsible for institutional research; institutional effectiveness; and support of assessment, accreditation, and planning.
Greg Ingram is the Vice President of Information Technology Systems at Washington Adventist University. He is responsible for the University's IT systems including strategic planning, management, business applications, network Infrastructure, help desk and academic technology resources.
Greg is a double alumni of Washington Adventist University. He completed his MBA in 2008 and a Bachelor of Science, Computer Science in 1995.
Rythee Jones earned her Bachelor of Arts degree from Hood College and her master of General Administration from University of Maryland University College. She joined WAU September 2011 and assumed her current role in August 2012. Jones has 25 years of human resources experience, including seven years at the executive level. Her background includes assignments in talent development, employee relations, organizational development, compensation, and human resource information systems. She also has served as an executive coach to leaders in higher education, government agencies, and non-profit organizations.