Challenges Facing Adventist Higher Education

Speaker: Categories: Nov 10, 2007

 

[1hr, 12min, 38sec / 41min, 20sec]

ABOUT THE TOPIC:

It's likely that readers will have already completed their college education - or found good reasons to abstain from such. Many, if not most, would have experienced such (or avoided such) in an institution operated by the SDA church. In all likelihood the challenges facing those educational institutions then were most commonly financial - either to the denomination or to the college student. But new challenges, to be identified by Dr. Osborn on November 10, encompass a far larger realm. One might ask whether the issues he cites are unique to the West Coast or portends of problems confronting Adventist (and other private colleges) nationwide. And what about our ever-growing church family in third-world countries? To what extent do they share the same kinds of concerns regarding OUR colleges and universities? SDAF's November speaker puts forth eleven premises which need addressing as follows:

1. Seventh-day Adventist colleges are as important for the church to fulfill its mission today as at any point in our history.

2. The demographic, financial, enrollment, and philosophical challenges facing Seventh-day Adventist colleges will increase at an accelerating pace over the next decade. These four major challenges will be centered on the increasing difficulty of putting financial packages together for students to attend Adventist colleges.

3. Some Adventist colleges are better positioned to survive these challenges than others.

4. We are not immune to similar challenges being experienced by most small Christian colleges and higher education in general in North America.

5. No"quick fix"solutions to these challenges are available but will require patient collaborative solutions centered in our belief that these institutions were established under God's direction with an important purpose for the church and broader society. In our history, Adventist colleges have dealt with even more serious challenges with success.

6. Because local conferences and unions are already giving a very high percentage of their budgets for Adventist education, we cannot expect dramatic increases in financial support, especially when other essential ministries of the church also need support. As centrally important as Christian education is for the church, the church'sprimarymission isnotto support its institutional educational system.

7. A new generation of young people will require different solutions to these challenges than those used in the past.

8. A major crisis in North America or the international world could have a devastating impact on Adventist higher education in North America.

9. Increasing expectations and requirements from local and federal governments may require greater attention and resources with special emphases on transparency, accountability, assessment, affordability, cost, curriculum, and accessibility.

10. Adventist higher education can only be strengthened to the extent that local congregational life and enrollment in K-12 Adventist schools can be revitalized. We must find a way for energizing church members, especially young adults, to become more joyfully committed to the mission and life of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, through regular participation in the church's activities, Sabbath School, worship services, evangelism, service, and financial contributions.

11. Wecanfind solutions."Each of these premises,"assures Dr. Richard Osborn,"represents challenge and hope. Some wonder how much longer the church can support fifteen colleges and universities located within North America. What solutions can be found to enable Adventist colleges to remain a viable possibility for a rapidly changing demographic base for North American Adventism? Do our colleges cost more than our young people [and their parents] can afford? What lessons can be learned from other colleges? Are there new models for Adventist education we should be considering?"Do the stated premises and the questions posed above pique your curiosity and interest - even though neither you nor your immediate offspring may be considering a college education or beyond in the near future? Would any of the premises or questions above have been relevant when college-days were yours?

ABOUT THE SPEAKER:

Richard Osborn, who is beginning his seventh year as President of Pacific Union College in the Napa Valley, California, draws on his background as a current President, as founding President of the Association of Adventist Colleges and Universities, and former Vice-President for Education for the North American Division in highlighting the challenges facing Adventist higher education in North America. In January, 2008, he will also begin a two-year term as Chair of the Association of Independent California Colleges& Universities, a consortium of the 77 independent colleges in California ranging in size from Stanford and USC to smaller colleges such as PUC.

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