Historic Vote Highlights Washington Adventist University Constituency

By Taashi Rowe

009april17WAUConst_COVERThe three-day weekend of meetings started Friday when some 90 pastors, members, teachers, students and church leaders gathered in Takoma Park, Md., for Washington Adventist University’s (WAU) constituency session. Reports from President Weymouth Spence and an independent auditor reflected an upward trend for the university that some five years ago struggled financially.

Spence proudly noted that the university has rebounded to now offer a three-school model with 32 undergraduate programs, eight graduate degrees and realize a 30.5 percent increase in enrollment—its highest since 1991. Patrick Farley, executive vice president for finance, reported that the university now functions with positive working capital and decreasing debt.

“This is a very significant moment for WAU … We acknowledge the wonderful things that God has been doing in the past five years,” remarked Dave Weigley, chair of WAU’s Board of Trustees and president of the Columbia Union Conference.

The delegates also addressed the university’s addition of a branch campus in South Lancaster, Mass., at Atlantic Union College  (AUC). Many noted the historic nature of the proceedings, which means that two unions—the Columbia Union Conference and the Atlantic Union Conference—will partner to operate one university. Each will contribute financially and have representatives on the board.

WAU constituency delegates unanimously voted to accept the new bylaws effective immediately and subject to ratification by the AUC constituency meeting June 13. If that happens, WAU will now offer Seventh-day Adventist higher education to students in 15 states and the islands of Bermuda.

“This is a mile-marker for us,” shared Neville Harcombe, Columbia Union Conference executive secretary. “We need to take care of the educational needs of our young people on the East Coast.”

Donald Blake, PhD, who retired from the board after two terms, said that while cautious about the addition of a branch campus, he was “glad to go out with a sense of strength that the university has now” and called the president’s report “very encouraging.”

Victor Zill, executive secretary/treasurer for the Mountain View Conference, said, “I’m very thankful the university is in a much stronger financial position where they are able to better pursue education ministry. It is very exciting to see the addition of a second campus moving forward and whatever opportunities that may provide.”

Spence explained that adding a branch campus was an opportunity not only for WAU, but for the Adventist Christian educational system. “There are many of our institutions that have been struggling financially for years, and this historic vote starts a trend, hopefully, that will bring our schools together for the long-term sustainability of Adventist Christian education overall,” he remarked.

WAU Board of Trustees Members 2011-2016

1.     Dave Weigley

2.     J. Neville Harcombe

3.     Weymouth Spence

4.     Hannah Blake

5.     Raj Attiken

6.     Nancy Bailey

7.     Seth Bardu

8.     Violet Cox

9.     Larry Boggess

10. Albert Reese

11. Bruce Boyer

12. Hamlet Canosa

13. Vijay Charles

14. Charles Cheatham

15. Jose Cortes

16. Dwayne Dortch

17. Phyllis Edmonds

18. Ray Hartwell

19. Saundra Laughlin

20. Scott McClure

21. Margaret McFarland

22. Donald Melnick

23. Bill Miller

24. Joan Francis

25. William Robertson

26. Fredrick Russell

27. Timothy Shriver

28. Carol Stewart

29. Charles Tapp

30. Rob Vandeman

31. Mark Young


*AUC will name 12 members at its June 13 constituency meeting.