Fall Semester 2021 Highlights
Written by: Richard Castillo
TAKOMA PARK, MD — Washington Adventist University’s campus and classrooms came back to life this Fall 2021 semester. Our students returned to campus after more than a year of studying virtually. Although we are proud of the effort made by our faculty, staff, and students during the pandemic, we have been extremely ready to see everyone’s faces (although properly masked) in person and not on a zoom screen.
Our semester began as most do, with our First-Year Experience. This year freshmen AND sophomores were welcomed to campus early to engage with our university in person, some for the first time. They got a chance to fellowship and engage with their fellow classmates and really begin their WAU career on an excellent footing.
This semester we welcomed Chaplain Jason Dietz to our Center for Student Life. He hit the ground running as he opened this year’s opening convocation with prayer. Next, President Spence presented his challenge to our student body, faculty, and staff to look to the future and get excited about the opportunities coming as we embrace VISION 2030 (Distinctive Excellence In Student Success) and the many goals we as a university look forward to meeting and exceeding.
In mid-September, WAU held its Dedication Weekend. On Sabbath morning at Sligo Church, Chairman Dave Weigley and President Weymouth Spence offered a prayer of dedication for the many faculty and staff on the socially distanced Sligo Church platform.
On a beautifully sunny Sabbath afternoon, at the foot of the Richard’s Hall steps and enhanced by the planning and execution of our office of Integrated Marketing and Communications, WAU honored the lives of Henry and Sharon Fordham by naming our Department of Religion after this extraordinary couple. A portrait of Henry and Sharon Fordham was ceremonially hung during the event by their two sons and member of the WAU Religion Department. WAU honors the Fordham’s legacy and begins a new era of emphasis on urban evangelism training and innovation for our religion department.
Congressional Country Club in Bethesda, Maryland, again hosted WAU Sunday Evening for our Ninth Annual Visionaries Gala. U.S. Congressman Jamie Raskins, Montgomery Country Chamber of Commerce C.E.O. Gigi Godwin, and Drs. Ronald and Beverly Anderson were honored for their excellent work in the community and beyond. In addition, President Weymouth Spence became our surprise 5th honoree as Chairman Dave Weigley, Provost Cheryl Kisunzu, and Executive Vice President for Finance Patrick Farley presented Dr. Spence with an award. Our 2021 Gala was enhanced by a new stage backdrop and video work by our office of Integrated Marketing and Communications, elevating the level of quality and excellence as we honored our visionary best.
We’ve enjoyed successful academic events this semester as WAU Honors College hosted its 3rd Annual Adventist Archives Lectureship and then a special celebration for the 100th birthday of William Blissett through the David Jones Research Center & Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library. In addition, our Religion Department held its annual G. Arthur Keough Summit tackling the difficult discussions around Overcoming Disunity in the Body of Christ, looking for concrete steps towards unity. Finally, our Music Department hosted its annual Anna Wang Concert Series held this year at Spencerville Church.
After a tough few seasons of the pandemic, WAU’s athletes are ready to compete. WAU has installed a new basketball court to further enhance the student and fan experience and replaced the old bleachers with brand new branded and folding bleachers. Our Acro Airs are ready to hit the mats for this year’s Wizard’s Halftime Show.
Service is written into WAU’s DNA. Our students, faculty, and staff took to the streets and community to make a difference this semester. Our teams went to 7 locations around the region to make our WAU presence known.
WAU has expanded its academic relationships around the region, signing affiliation agreements and memorandums of understanding with Prince Georges Community College, Laurel College Center, Howard University, and University of Baltimore School of Law to connect a network of students and higher education around our area. This network will allow students who may never have touched Adventist Education to have an opportunity to experience the difference WAU brings. Our students will, in kind, be able to take their credits and education from WAU and connect directly with the University of Baltimore School of Law and take their futures to the next level. We are proud of these relationships and look forward to their fruit and the many blessings God can bestow.
Finally, we are proud to have been recognized for our strong presence in Upward Social Mobility in our region. Over the years, WAU has been recognized as 78th in the region. Recently we were recognized as 22nd, and now we’ve been recognized by U.S. News and World Report as being 17th in our region for making a significant difference for struggling, or lower-income families that currently have an opportunity to move up the financial ladder thanks to WAU and our “All of God’s Children Are Welcome” ideology.
We look forward to how God will continue to bless us because…
THIS IS WASHINGTON ADVENTIST UNIVERSITY