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: