"Washington Adventist University"
New Name for CUC
After 105 years, Takoma Park school gets another moniker
BY CELESTE RYAN BLYDEN, editor, Columbia Union Visitor, with additional reporting by AR staff.
early 50 years after its last name change, a Seventh-day Adventist college in Takoma Park, Maryland, is about to take on a new identity.
Columbia Union College (CUC), so named in 1961, soon will adopt a new moniker reflecting its new status as a full university. The name “Washington Adventist University” was recently voted when nearly 90 delegates gathered at Sligo Seventh-day Adventist Church, adjacent to the school’s campus, for the college’s mid-term constituency session.
The idea to upgrade CUC’s educational status grew out of strategic planning efforts several years ago. Upon taking the helm in January 2008, Weymouth Spence and his team decided to follow through, engaging faculty, staff, students, and alumni in the process, and seeking the multi-level approval of the Maryland Higher Education Council.
“We are more than qualified to become a university,” Spence told delegates. “While schools with only two graduate degrees are at university status, CUC offers six.” Additional reasons cited for making CUC a university include potential for academic and enrollment growth, greater financial stability, the ability to attract international students, and the impressive qualifications of the school’s faculty and administrators, many of whom already have doctorates or terminal degrees.
NAME CHANGE COMING: After nearly 50 years as Columbia Union College, the Seventh-day Adventist Church-owned and operated school will become "Washington Adventist University" once state regulators and regional accrediting officials formally approve the switch. [Photo: Mark A. Kellner/AR Online]
With preliminary approval from the state, the college was informed that the next step is to rename the institution reflecting its higher status. From a taskforce that winnowed 100 potential names to 50, to a CUC Board of Trustees-appointed subcommittee that narrowed the field to four, the decision was then put in the hands of the full board. Their recommendation, which needed to be ratified by attendees to the constituency session, was tweaked to capitalize on the college’s location, a major attraction for many students.
After an hour or so of discussion, constituents voted to rename the college Washington Adventist University, subject to legal review. According to a statement from Spence on the school’s Web site, “We can begin operating as Washington Adventist University as soon as this name is approved by the appropriate legal entities, including the Adventist Accrediting Association, the state of Maryland, and the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.”
Officials in the Columbia Union’s conferences said they were pleased with the change. “It’s easy to market, draws on our heritage, and proudly identifies who we are---Seventh-day Adventists,” said Jim Greene, vice president for administration of the New Jersey Conference, summarizing the overwhelming sentiment of constituents.
“It’s time we capitalize on the good name that the Adventist Church has in the greater Washington area and beyond,” added Rob Vandeman, Chesapeake Conference president.
With clear and almost unanimous support from session delegates, a group which includes CUC Board members, as well as some faculty, staff, and alumni, Spence and his team are moving forward. “We must now communicate with the accrediting agencies, make plans to implement the new name, and begin the involved task of rebranding the college,” he said.
Founded after the move of the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists from Battle Creek, Michigan, to what was then a rural suburb of Washington, D.C., what was first Washington Training College has served the Adventist family for 105 years.
College Name History
Washington Training College – 1904
Washington Foreign Mission Seminary – 1907
Washington Missionary College – 1914
Columbia Union College – 1961
Washington Adventist University – 2009