NAD Higher Education: Which College Will Fail First?

Speaker: Categories: Aug 08, 2009


[1hr, 14min, 28sec / 30min, 59sec]


SDAs have vested interests in Adventist higher education. Each college or university has alumni who consider their school to beTHEIRschool whose history and future border on being sacred.

So, any talk about closing or downsizing or merging with another institution gets little attentionuntilthe campus calledYOURSis brought into the discussion!

"Today,"notes Mike Scofield,"several Adventist colleges (or universities) in the North American Division have declining enrollments and are in dangerously poor financial condition. Some may not survive. Some observers suggest that they should be closed. They are too small to be efficient. At the same time, two relatively new medically-oriented schools have displayed spectacular growth over the past 20 years.

Adventist higher education was first built in the 1880's and 1890's by visionary, energetic, and entrepreneurial pioneers like Prescott, Irwin, and others. Imagine their shock if they were to visit an Adventist campus today. They would see skin, energy, and technology. They would find very well-educated (PhDs mostly) faculty, well-equipped libraries, and lab facilities they could never have imagined.

While there would be staggering differences, they would find at least one thing in common with the struggling rural schools of the 1910's. That is the dedication of the teachers and staff.

"An article in the latest issue of Spectrum Magazine", continues Mike Scofield,"was compiled of interviews with numerous NAD college presidents regarding various strategies for survival, including some ideas for merging two or more colleges. The article did not, however, explore a host of other important issues and causal factors, nor did it provide much quantitative analysis of the NAD higher education system as a whole and its environment."

Higher education continues to become more and more expensive. For example, in 1970, at minimum wage, it would require a student 28 weeks of labor to pay the typical annual tuition of a 4-year college. In 2007, annual tuition required 133 weeks of labor at minimum wage. That's nearlytwo and a half years.

Some other comparisons help describe the changing environment of higher education. They include ...

• In terms of real earning power, the average citizen and family in North America is much richer than it was 50 years ago.

• In spite of general economic prosperity, because of shifting demographics, the NAD is getting poorer. The average tithe/member, as a share of per-capita GDP in the U.S. has declined from 4.6% in 1960 down to 1.9% at present.

• College enrollment per 1,000 population in the U.S. has grown from 30 in 1955 to 60 in 2006. The Adventist school system has not replicated this trend.

• While total enrollment for NAD colleges has risen, the number of students per 1,000 members has declined from 40 in 1969 to 24 presently.

• Total annual cost (tuition, room, and board) for attending a private college in the U.S. has risen from $11,000 in 1970 to $32,000 in 2006 (adjusted for inflation, in 2000 dollars). Adventist colleges have followed this trend.

So what is the solution? It is almost certain that some schools will close -- whether closed deliberately or catastrophically.


Michael Scofield, an expert in data management and decision-support systems, has spoken to the San Diego Forum numerous times over the past 25 years. He frequently lectures and teaches workshops to professional audiences in data management in the U.S. as well as in Australia and the U.K. In addition to his professional articles, he has been published inSpectrumandAdventist Today. He has numerous invitations to teach Sabbath School classes in Angwin, Glendale, La Sierra, and Tierrasanta.

Donate to SDAF


San Diego Adventist Forum
PO Box 421320
San Diego, CA 92142

We invite and appreciate your feedback regarding any of our programs or services.

Shopping cart

There are no products in your shopping cart.

0 Items $0.00