here are a lot of ways for a place like Andrews University to remain relevant in today’s world. As with many organizations, that includes changing with the times.
However, for Andrews University, our relevance and even the changes we have made over the years should and do remain committed to and rooted in our distinctive history as the first Seventh-day Adventist college, a place where our young church worked hard to practice what it had begun to preach about education.
What we believed and preached in those early days was this: Meaningful education had to move beyond book learning to focus fully on “physical, mental, moral, and spiritual education.” This was to be the core mission for Adventist education, first articulated by Ellen White in her article “Proper Education” in 1872, two years before Battle Creek College opened.
This educational balance between the mental, moral, spiritual, and physical directly inspired our mission and purpose in our very first days as a college. It continues to drive us nearly 150 years later as Andrews University serves as the landmark higher education institution for our church.
Today Andrews University reflects these roots and cornerstone aspirations with our Latin motto, Mens, Corpus, Spiritus (mind, body, spirit), which is accompanied by a mission statement that calls our university community to seek knowledge, affirm faith, and change the world.
Let me share a few things that have happened at Andrews University since we last gathered together for the General Conference (GC) session in Atlanta five years ago.
Perhaps most notably, the integration of Griggs University and Griggs International Academy into Andrews University has taken place, with the newly formed School of Distance Education.
This integration of Griggs programs into Andrews University, following the gift of this historic distance education organization from the General Conference, has offered Andrews the timely and significant opportunity to build upon and expand our international partnerships and global reach. Distance education is revolutionizing higher education, and our School of Distance Education now offers Andrews University strategic opportunities and the tools needed for future success.
Overall, nearly 3,000 distance students study toward Andrews University credit and degrees beyond our campus, joining nearly 3,500 who study in Berrien Springs. Another 2,000 are part of studies in Griggs International Academy programs worldwide, or study at our own university schools, Ruth Murdoch Elementary School and Andrews Academy.
A New Look
Our home campus in Berrien Springs has also changed. In the past five years we’ve completed two new buildings.
First is Buller Hall, part of a new Undergraduate Learning Center (a project that included renewing Nethery Hall) that reflects our commitment to collaborative learning for undergraduate students in their Andrews Core Experience (general education) studies.
Our newly built Damazo Hall in the University Towers complex provides comfortable housing for a growing number of female graduate students.
Our next significant building project, a health and wellness center—to be completed over the next five years—reflects our commitment to where we first began: to assure a wholistic development of mind, body, and spirit in our students, faculty, and staff.
New Programs—The Same Commitment
We’ve added new academic programs, ranging from undergraduate degrees in documentary film and construction management to online graduate degrees in public health and business. These and other offerings strengthen and expand the educational and training opportunities we offer our students, wherever they are.
Academic reorganization has also occurred on our Berrien Springs campus, including a tightened focus on and coordination of STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) programs and the creation of a new School of Health Professions, which respond to a growing demand for well-trained professionals in these areas.
Our current five-year strategic plan, which has been overseen by Provost Andrea Luxton, calls for Andrews University to continue to affirm and embrace our historical roots as we pursue four contemporary and relevant areas of distinctive strength:
- To call each of us at Andrews to equally and fully develop mind, body, and spirit while here, to live wholly in alignment with our foundational commitment to balanced development.
- To invite our students to discover their future as they explore intentionally in order to pursue a life calling that’s centered in their God-given talents and His plans for their lives (specifically, a new Explore Andrews program will help undergraduate students best determine God’s plans for them if they are unsure of major and career choice).
- To move beyond classroom learning and laboratory assignments to create, investigate, and research in ways that allow our students to learn deeply.
- To invite our Andrews University community to understand our world by inviting them to engage globally with the diverse student community on our Berrien Springs campus, with our global education partners, and throughout the world itself.
These are significant commitments and aspirations for your school—Andrews University.
I personally have been humbled, challenged, and fulfilled to be part of this sacred and world-changing work at Andrews University for the past 20 years.
I join with you and our corporate church as we look forward with great interest to a future that continues to fulfill God’s plans and our ongoing Seventh-day Adventist mission for this landmark institution, a place committed to continuing to provide distinctive and transformational Adventist higher education to each one of our students, to our church, and to the entire world.