Atlantic Union College

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Atlantic Union College
Atlantic Union College - 1.jpg
Motto “Fiat Lux” (“Let There Be Light)
Active 1882–2011
Type Private, four-year Liberal Arts
Religious affiliation Seventh-day Adventist Church
President Duane M. Cady, M.D.
Location South Lancaster, Massachusetts, US
Coordinates: 42°26′42.26″N 71°41′9.41″W / 42.4450722°N 71.6859472°W / 42.4450722; -71.6859472
Campus Rural
Affiliations COWC

Atlantic Union College (AUC) was a Seventh-day Adventist college in South Lancaster, Massachusetts. It closed in 2011 after a financial crisis and an ensuing loss of accreditation.

Upon the recommendation of the AUC Strategic Planning Committee, the AUC Board of Trustees, on May 5, 2014, voted to authorize the offering of three non-higher education programs starting once approval from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts is granted.[1]


The plaque in the foreground reads: "Site of the Parsonage of Rev. Edmund Hamilton Sears, Minister of the First Church of Christ 1840–1847, Author of the Christmas Hymn 'It Came Upon a Midnight Clear'. Lancaster Historical Commission


Founded in 1882, Atlantic Union College in South Lancaster, Mass., is the oldest campus in the Seventh-day Adventist worldwide educational system.[2] In 1882, the school was organized as a preparatory school under Stephen Nelson Haskell to serve the needs of Adventist constituents in the northeastern part of the United States and Bermuda, and was named "That New England School".[3] The next year, it was incorporated and renamed South Lancaster Academy.[3] In 1918, it was once again renamed Lancaster Junior College.[3] Then, in 1922, it was yet once again renamed Atlantic Union College after being authorized to grant degrees in the state of Massachusetts.[3] That year, the academy and college separated. In 1933, Governor Joseph Ely granted AUC the right to confer the bachelor of arts degree. In 1945, the school was first accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC). In 1954, it was authorized to grant the bachelor of science degree. Herbert E. Douglass was president from 1967 to 1970. In 1990, Atlantic Union was authorized to grant the master of education degree.

Crisis and closure[edit]

In 1993, with 82% of enrolled students receiving financial aid,[4] there was a high default rate on student loans and enrollment was dropping well below projections. An auditor's report had shown the college was "essentially bankrupt" and at the time was at least $3 million in debt.[5] By the Fall of 1994, another enrollment drop forced them to borrow $2 million to get through the 94-95 school year; a violation of North American Division working policy to borrow money for operating purposes. In May 1995, the AUC had $6.2 million in debt. Approximately $3 million was owed to the Atlantic Union Revolving Fund and $2.4 million owed to the General Conference.[6] By August 1995, AUC met their first cash crunch and were forced to dip into the endowment funds to meet payroll. This process was repeated in November and December of the same year until the endowment funds were exhausted.[7]

In 1998, the New England Association of Schools and Colleges issued 28 citations to Atlantic Union after an on-site visit. Most pertained to problems with finances, fund raising, the curriculum, student services, and faculty pay.[8]

After a focused evaluation in 2001, the Massachusetts Commission on Institutions of Higher Education recommended to the Board of Trustees for NEASC that the College’s accreditation be terminated. In December 2003, the Board of Trustees placed the College on probation.[9]

The school’s finances had been shaky for years. It had a legacy of bureaucratic bungling and misunderstandings with state and regional higher education authorities, and it had spent the last decade on and off probation with its accrediting body.[citation needed]

In 2008, NEASC placed the College on probation status due to "failure to meet [its] Standard on Financial Resources". In February 2011, it was announced that Atlantic Union College would lose its accreditation on July 31, 2011.[10][11][12]

The AUC board of trustees undertook negotiations with Washington Adventist University with the aim of establishing a branch campus of WAU on AUC's former campus.[13] However. AUC President Norman Wendth announced in July that the plan had not gained approval from the Massachusetts Department of Education in time for the Fall 2011 school term. All 179 faculty and staff at AUC were laid off on July 31, 2011.[14][15] Only one of the 450 enrolled students failed to find a new college in time for the fall semester, while all nursing students transferred to Mount Wachusett Community College in Gardner, Massachusetts. Adult degree program and distance learning students were not affected and automatically became students of Washington Adventist University.[14]

In October 2011 the AUC board of trustees voted to suspend any further negotiations for a branch of WAU after the institutions were unable to reach an operating agreement.[16]

Refounding efforts[edit]

The Massachusetts Department of Higher Education (DHE) performed a site visit on October 2, 2012, to evaluate the reestablishment of degree-granting authority.

On November 11, 2012, the Atlantic Union College (AUC) Board of Trustees appointed Duane M. Cady, M.D. as interim president.[17] Duane M. Cady is a graduate of Atlantic Union College in Lancaster, Massachusetts, and Loma Linda University in California. He is also an elder in the Syracuse Seventh-day Adventist Church.

On June 18, 2013, Atlantic Union College won approval by the Massachusetts Board of Higher Education to offer two degrees. The approved degrees are a Bachelor of Arts in Theology/Religion and a Bachelor of Science in Health Science/Biology. The college will pursue accreditation through the Transnational Association of Christian Colleges and Schools.[18][19][20]

In November 2013, the College became the home of a non-degree educational program, the Northeast Evangelism Training School.[21]


Atlantic Union College is located on 135-acres in Lancaster Massachusetts.[22]

Founders Hall Description
Atlantic Union College - Founder's Hall
The Gothic style/Queen Anne style hall was constructed in 1883 and added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1980.
Stephan H. Haskell Hall Description
Haskell Hall
It was used as administration offices and classrooms, with an attached auditorium capable of seating 1,200.[23] Plans for the building had been developed since 1938, but due to World War II, the shortage of materials prevented the building to be completed until 1952.[24]
Preston Hall Description
Picture Not Yet Available It was used as the Women's Dormitory. Construction began in 1939 and was completed in 1943.[25] Two wing additions were added in 1963 and 1967. The building can house 240 women. The building was named after Rachel Oakes Preston who was a Seventh-day Baptist in Washington, New Hampshire. She resided with Elder Frederick Wheeler, pastor of a small congregation that had become Millerites. Wheeler's urging that all the Ten Commandments be obeyed led her to discuss the Sabbath with him. He and part of his congregation accepted her idea and the first Seventh-day Adventist church was formed.[26]
Lenheim Hall Description
Picture Not Yet Available It was the Men's Dormitory and was completed in 1956. The architectural design was influenced by President L. M. Stump, who had come from California, so this building is architecturally not in sync with the other campus buildings. Very unusual building techniques were used—entire floors were cast in concrete as one unit and then jacked up to their proper height and fastened to their vertical pillars. One floor unexpectedly collapsed and caused an expensive and timely setback. It was named in honor of Louis E. Lenheim, who was at the time the president of Atlantic Union Conference. Lenheim Hall can house 180 men. AUC's swimming pool is also in the basement.[26]
Chan Shun Dining Commons Description
Picture Not Yet Available It was the primary cafeteria used by students and faculty. It was built in 1995 through the generosity of the Chinese Philanthropist Chan Shun. The main dining area has seating for 300 in addition to other function rooms.[27]
Thayer Hall Description
Thayer music building
The house with acres of land, was purchased by the college in 1944. The mansion quickly became known as Thayer Hall, and housed the college administration building and library. When Haskell Hall was completed, it was turned into a men's dormitory for the college. When Lenheim Hall was completed most of the college men moved out of the building. South Lancaster Academy used it for a boys' dormitory for some years until Pioneer Valley Academy became the boarding academy for the conference.[28] In 1972 Jon Robertson, chair of the music department of Atlantic Union College, moved the music department from Founder’s Hall to Thayer mansion making it a music conservatory.[29] It is now known as the Thayer Performing Arts Center.
The G. Eric Jones Library Description
Picture Not Yet Available It was built in 1970 and contains a gift of a thousand volumes from the private library of poet Edwin Markham.[citation needed]
W. G. Nelson Field House Description
Picture Not Yet Available Was home to the athletic facilities and Physical Education Department. The facility includes Cybex weight training equipment, basketball, handball, and tennis courts. Athletic fields for football, and soccer are behind the center.[30]

Racial tensions[edit]

Atlantic Union College was a Minority Serving Institution as defined by the Office of Civil Rights. The school was a Hispanic Serving Institution, for federal financial aid purposes.[31] During the college's last year of operation in 2011, ethnicity of the student body was 65.7% Black or African American, 16.7% Hispanic/Latino, 6.9% White, 5.9% Asian, 3.9% Race and/or Ethnicity unknown and 1.0% Two or more races non-Hispanic/Latino.[32]

In January 2003 a former employee filed a complaint with the Massachusetts Commission on Discrimination charging President Sylvan Lashley and assistant Dwight Carnegie with reverse discrimination. The employee, who is white, claims minority employees were hired and promoted over better-qualified non-minorities who had seniority. The complaint alleged Mr. Lashley, who is black, made biased, racial remarks about non-minorities in public.[8]

In October 2006 a race riot broke out between Haitian and Bermudan students after a soccer game. Lancaster police implemented a campus wide lockdown with help from police departments in neighboring towns of Clinton and Bolton. Witnesses reported seeing multiple students with knives chasing each other, people fighting in the parking lots, girls were screaming and rolling in the street and rocks were being thrown. The evening resulted in the arrest of Tennyson Reid of Bronx, New York and 2 students being admitted to Clinton Hospital, suffering from knife wounds.[33]

Legal troubles[edit]

In October 1997, Bruce Wells, AUC's Dean, appointed by President Lashley, approached surprised town selectmen in the neighboring town of Clinton for permission to use a Clinton address to sell used cars out of the college's parking lot in Lancaster in order to circumvent the Town of Lancaster's local zoning laws.[34]

The school hit a low point in 2003, when its president at the time, Sylvan Lashley, left under a cloud. His administration was accused of transgressions from racial discrimination to mishandling of student aid funds, which resulted in a federal investigation.[35] The Federal investigation by the U.S. Department of Education focused on the college's handling of Title IV student aid funds, on which almost all of the college’s 500 students were dependent. Title IV Aid Funds include; Pell Grant, Academic Competitive Grant (ACG), National SMART Grant, Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (FSEOG), Federal Direct Loans, Federal Perkins Loans and Federal PLUS Loans.[36] In Mid-June 2003, the U.S. Department of Education concluded their investigation, voting to withhold all federal funding for any student coming to AUC.’” School President Babcock requested an emergency meeting with the U.S. Department of Education in Boston and three hours later emerged with their pledge to give the college a few months to attempt to implement agency requirements for distributing and accounting for student aid moneys.[37]

On January 30, 2008, a lawsuit was filed in the Worcester Superior Court against a former Atlantic Union College choir director and music professor, for allegedly sexually abusing four students and a consultant in 2005 and 2006.[38] The suit alleged that Mr. de Araujo, who is called “Maestro” and known around the world for his choral direction and musical performances, engaged in inappropriate touching and sexual abuse. It also alleged that the college was aware of his previous alleged sexual predatory behavior, but ignored the men’s complaints.[39] The plaintiffs also accused AUC of firing workers that opposed the abuse.[40] On June 20, 2008, a settlement was reached; however, specifics of the agreement were confidential.[41]

In March 2009, AUC was fined $177,500 by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency after the discovery of a 500 Gallon oil tank located in the Colleges Power Plant, leaking into a local stream. The EPA found that Atlantic Union College did not have a spill prevention control and countermeasure plan, a violation of the Clean Water Act. The school also did not have a legally required secondary containment system around the tank, to catch such leaks if they did happen to occur.[42] Additionally, the College failed to file Tier II hazardous chemical inventory forms with the local emergency planning committee, also required by law.[43]



  • (2012–Present) Duane M. Cady, M.D. (interim)
  • (2011–2012) Norman L. Wendth
  • (2003–2011) Dr. George Babcock
  • (1996–2003) Dr. Sylvan A. Lashley
  • (1994–1996) J. Londis
  • (1984–1992) Dr. Larry Geraty
  • (1980–1984) Dr. Larry Lewis
  • (1976-1980) Dr. R. Dale McCune
  • (1967–1970) Herbert E. Douglass

See also[edit]

Notes and references[edit]

  1. ^ "AUC Board Votes Certificate Programs". AUC.EDU. Retrieved 9/1/2014.  Check date values in: |accessdate= (help)
  2. ^ "Washington Adventist University and Atlantic Union College Vote Memorandum of Understanding". Washington Adventist University. 
  3. ^ a b c d ''American universities and colleges: a dictionary of name changes'' by Alice H. Songe. Rowman & Littlefield (1978), p. 12. Google Books. Retrieved May 6, 2012. 
  4. ^ Ekeler, William (1994). The Black Student's Guide to College Success. p. 255. ISBN 0-313-29431-3. 
  5. ^ "One Delegate's view of the Atlantic Union College constituency meeting.". 
  6. ^ "A summary of the Atlantic Union constituency meeting, March 31, 1996, South Lancaster, MA, at the College Church.". 
  7. ^ "The Atlantic Union College Crisis". SDA Defend. 
  8. ^ a b Nugent, Karen (February 12, 2003). "Lashley resigns Atlantic Union post". Telegram & Gazette. 
  9. ^ "BOARD OF HIGHER EDUCATION REQUEST FOR COMMITTEE AND BOARD ACTION". Massachusetts Department of Higher Education. Retrieved June 18, 2013. 
  10. ^ "Atlantic Union Conference". Retrieved May 6, 2012. 
  11. ^ "Public Statement on Atlantic Union College". New England Association of Schools and Colleges. September 16, 2010. 
  12. ^ Carpenter, Alexander (February 17, 2011). "Atlantic Union College Loses Regional Accreditation, But Will Continue". Spectrum Blog. Retrieved May 6, 2011. 
  13. ^ Carpenter, Alexander (March 10, 2011). "Washington Adventist University to Open a Branch Campus at Atlantic Union College.". Spectrum Blog. Retrieved May 6, 2011. 
  14. ^ a b Nugent, Karen (July 22, 2011). "All Atlantic Union College employees being let go". Telegram and Gazette: News (Worcester, Massachusetts: Worcester Telegram & Gazette Corp.). Retrieved August 5, 2011. 
  15. ^ Jones, Kathleen; Proctor, Carole (Compilers). "The 147th Annual Statistical Report of Seventh-day Adventist Conferences, Missions, and Institutions Throughout the World for the Year Ending December 31, 2009". Silver Spring, Maryland: General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists. p. 40. Retrieved August 6, 2011. 
  16. ^ "Update on the Establishment of WAU Branch Campus at Atlantic Union College". Washington Adventist University. Retrieved July 16, 2012. 
  17. ^ "AUC Board Appoints New Interim President". AUC. 
  18. ^ "Atlantic Union Wins Approval Of 2 Programs". WB Journal. 
  19. ^ "Update Re Degree-Granting Authority at Atlantic Union College". AUC. 
  20. ^ "Update on Atlantic Union College - Feb 11 2013". Atlantic Union College. 
  21. ^ Michael Hartwell (November 26, 2013). "Atlantic Union College launches evangelistic training program". Sentinel and Enterprise. 
  22. ^ "Location". AUC. 
  23. ^ Jones, G. Eric (December 21, 1945). "Long Range Planning". Atlantic Union Gleaner XLIV (50). 
  24. ^ Lennon, Heather (2005). Lancaster Revisited. Arcardia Publishing. p. 62. 
  25. ^ Lennon, Heather (2005). Lancaster Revisited. Arcardia Publishing. p. 58. 
  26. ^ a b "Residence Halls". Atlantic Union College. 
  27. ^ Lennon, Heather (2005). Lancaster Revisited. Arcardia Publishing. p. 68. 
  28. ^ "The Homestead - The Nathaniel Thayer Estate". AUC. Retrieved 12/6/13.  Check date values in: |accessdate= (help)
  29. ^ "Thayer Performing Arts Center". AUC. 
  30. ^ "Recreation Center". AUC. 
  31. ^ "Student Body Size and Diversity". EdRef. Retrieved 2005. 
  32. ^ "Student Profile". National Application Center. Retrieved December 2012. 
  33. ^ Weeks, John. "New York man held after stabbing on AUC campus". The Item. Retrieved October 20, 2006. 
  34. ^ Hokama, Dennis (July–August 1999). "Is Atlantic Union College In Its Final Death Throws, or Prospering". Adventist Today 7 (4): Back Cover. 
  35. ^ Carmichael, Mary (September 7, 2011). "College Drops Out". Boston Globe. 
  36. ^ "Title IV Sample Calculations". UC Davis Law School. Retrieved December 17, 2009. 
  37. ^ Knott, Bill. "Back From The Brink". Adventist Review. Retrieved 2005. 
  38. ^ Karen, Nugent. "Five name college in sex abuse suit". Telegram. 
  39. ^ Nugent, Karen (June 21, 2008). "Sexual abuse lawsuit settled". TELEGRAM & GAZETTE. 
  40. ^ "Atlantic Union College Choir Director Settles Massachusetts Sex Abuse Lawsuit". Boston Injury Lawyer Blog. Retrieved April 17, 2013. 
  41. ^ Nugent, Karen (June 21, 2008). "Sexual abuse lawsuit settled". TELEGRAM & GAZETTE. Retrieved April 17, 2013. 
  42. ^ Crotty, Jason. "No cheap spill: EPA seeks $200k in fines from local college". Wicked Local. Retrieved March 19, 2009. 
  43. ^ Bruun, Matthew. "Atlantic Union facing stiff penalties". TELEGRAM & GAZETTE. Retrieved March 13, 2009. 

External links[edit]