Adventist Higher Education Innovation Experience—Participants Wanted!


Adventist Higher Education Innovation Experience—Participants Wanted!


Inside Higher Education, January 29, 2020:

“Trustees have grown significantly more concerned about the future of higher education during the past year, according to new polling released today that points to financial sustainability and the prices students pay as top sources of anxiety. And trustees aren’t just worried about the sector as a whole. A majority are also concerned about the future financial sustainability of their own institutions or systems.”

All of higher education now fully experiences true “disruption,” fueled by dramatic demographic changes, increasing costs, multiple options for acquiring content and skill expertise, and intensifying questions about proof of investment and readiness for careers.

Adventist higher education is not immune to these pressures. During the past seven years higher education enrollment has declined by 14 percent, averaging a loss of 548 students a year. Just last year higher education enrollment across the North American Division  (NAD) fell by 633 students.

The writing is on the wall: Adventist higher education will be drastically different in 2030, and we have the opportunity to design that future today.

While national enrollment demographics are radically changing, along with projected college-going populations, Adventist preschool to academy education is also not seeing the growth they have experienced historically.

The writing is on the wall: Adventist higher education will be drastically different in 2030, and we have the opportunity to design that future today. We either pivot toward a new model or face a future of incremental efforts for change, with likely substantive declines, increased financial subsidies, and a severely marginalized educational offering.

The Association of Adventist Colleges and Universities has been studying this situation for the past decade. Substantial positive change cannot happen unless a new model is created. The challenges ahead create some exciting opportunities for envisioning an innovative future that highlights the unique strengths of Seventh-day Adventist higher education. This will necessitate constituency buy-in and collaboration.

In the summer of 2018, the Chicago Summit was held with more than 200 leaders in higher education. More than 90 percent of attendees voted to explore a strategic alliance, consisting of a coalition of those willing to work toward the creation of a new model, a new form of Adventist higher education. We agreed that we either create a new future or prop up a soon-to-be-obsolete past. We also agreed that this is not the time for a top-down solution provided by the NAD, or even one provided by the Association of Adventist Colleges and Universities.

Research suggests that Adventist higher education is highly impactful. Adventist higher education graduates are:

  • seven times more likely to develop a deeper relationship with Jesus.
  • seven times more likely to experience professors who studied the Bible with students.
  • five times more likely to participate in mission service or mission trips.
  • three times more likely to work
  • on campus.
  • three times more likely to participate in campus activities and experience positive dating interactions.

At the 2019 year-end meetings, the NAD executive committee voted in support of the Higher Education Case Statement. It says: “We must not relax in the belief that tomorrow will bring solutions, we can’t gamble on the future. Today is the only reality we have, and the challenge we face is a defining moment we must not waste. We have abundant opportunities at this moment to present to the educational world the unique whole person education of the Seventh-day Adventist Church. We strongly urge national and institutional leadership to consider the financial and political support of this project as outlined in this document.” (For the entire document visit

Your Input Is Needed

The leaders of the NAD and Adventist higher education entities want your help. You will help us reimagine Adventist higher education. Your voice is important!

Between now and May 31, 2020, you can participate by going to www.adventisthe.organd answering two questions:

What do you love about Adventist higher education?

What is the biggest problem with Adventist higher education; and what is a solution for this problem?

Please be part of the solution; your observations and opinions matter. Prayerfully think about the Seventh-day Adventist Church and its future, and the importance of strong Adventist higher education institutions for you, your children, and your grandchildren.

—Gordon Bietz is associate director for higher education for the North American Division.

Tue, 03/31/2020 – 10:39


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here