Washington Adventist University

Washington Adventist University is a Seventh-day Adventist liberal arts university operating in Takoma Park, Maryland. Since 2008, when its new president Weymouth Spence announced a restructuring, the school has seen its enrollment increase by 50%.[1]

Washington Adventist University
Motto"Gateway to Service"
Liberal arts
AffiliationSeventh-day Adventist Church
PresidentWeymouth Spence
Location, ,
ColorsBlue      and White     
Sports7 varsity sports teams
(3 men's and 4 women's)


Washington Adventist University was established in 1904 by the Seventh-day Adventist Church as Washington Training College. In 1907, it was renamed Washington Foreign Mission Seminary, in 1914, Washington Missionary College, in 1961, Columbia Union College, and in 2009 received its current name.[3]


WAU is accredited by the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools; the Adventist Accrediting Association of the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists; and approved by the Maryland Higher Education Commission. Professional accreditations include the Department of Baccalaureate and Higher Degree Programs of the National League for Nursing, the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs, and the Maryland State Department of Education.

The university offers undergraduate Associate and bachelor's degrees, as well as several certificate programs. Graduate programs include the following: MBA, Masters of Nursing with Business Leadership, Masters in Public Administration, Masters of Religion, and Masters in Psychology. Adult evening courses towards accelerated bachelor's degree programs are also available from the School of Graduate and Professional Services.

The current president of the college is Weymouth Spence, who has announced plans for structural changes to attempt to revitalize the school.[4] The changes are described in detail in a document called The Plan.[5] President Spence succeeded Randal Wisbey, who left in 2007 for La Sierra University. The resident agent is The Corporation Trust, Inc., in Baltimore, MD.

Student life

The student body is diverse with students attending from a reported 40 states and 47 countries.

WAU has 16 separate student clubs/organizations, including 6 honor societies. WAU is recognized with a premier music department and award-winning music ensembles. The New England Youth Ensemble (NEYE), WAU's resident orchestra, is one of North America's most traveled orchestras. Under the direction of faculty member Preston Hawes, the 'Carnegie Scholars Program of the NEYE' affords qualified students a mentoring relationship with professional musicians of its parent organization, the New England Symphonic Ensemble, the resident orchestra of MidAmerica Productions in New York City. The Music Department features two choral groups, the Columbia Collegiate Chorale, and the elite performing vocal ensemble ProMusic. The Washington Concert Winds holds a yearly band festival where a newly commissioned work, composed specifically for the occasion is premiered each spring semester. The Music Department is housed in a newly constructed building, the Lois and Leroy Peters Music Center.

Other groups include the following:

WAU also features a Sports-Acrobatics Exhibition Team. The Acro-Airs have performed across the country and for a variety of venues. The team does performances at schools and community events where they spread the message of healthy living including abstaining from drugs, alcohol, and tobacco. Washington Adventist University's Acro-Airs also perform half-time shows for NBA games. They have performed at games for the Washington Wizards, Indiana Pacers, New York Knicks, and others. A recent performance was at the "Discover Strathmore Open House 2009", which was sponsored in part by the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Baily Circus.

The Columbia Journal serves as the campus newspaper.

Many of the student body are members of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, though students of all faiths and belief systems may enroll. Weekly church services are held at the campus church, Sligo Church.


The WAU sports program includes both intercollegiate and intramural sports for men and women. Sports facilities and activities are available to students. A volleyball club, fitness club, sports fields, and weight room complement the program. The school's team name is the Washington Adventist University Shock. The 2008 men's baseball team won the USCAA National Championship, the first national championship in the school's history. The "Iron Nine" of the Washington Adventist University baseball team have played in three national championship games between 2006 and 2009. Along with winning the title in 2008 they have been national runners-up in 2006 and 2009.

At the end of the 2012-13 school year, WAU eliminated their Division I men's volleyball program, along with the Division II baseball, softball, and men's and women's track and field program. At that time, the school withdrew from the NCAA, maintaining membership in only the USCAA.[6]

Study abroad opportunities

Washington Adventist University co-sponsors Adventist Colleges Abroad,[7] a program in which qualified students study overseas while completing requirements for graduation at Washington Adventist University. This language and cultural immersion is available in eight locations: Argentina, Austria, Brazil, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, and Spain, WAU undergraduate students may also study business courses in England through an exclusive partnership program with Newbold College just outside London, England.

WGTS controversy

WAU nearly accepted a $25 million bid for the radio station owned by WAU, WGTS 91.9FM, from American Public Media Group in 2007. The Board of Trustees voted against selling the radio station in September 2007.

WGTS listeners and supporters ran multiple campaigns against the sale for months before the final decision was made by the board.

WAU would have used the sale payment to pay down about $5 million in debts and to increase its endowment of $4 million. The school, which has an enrollment of about 1,000 students, also anticipated that the proceeds would pay for constructing the first new building on campus in 37 years.[8]

Restructuring in 2008

In 2008, President Weymouth Spence announced he would eliminate or freeze up to 22 faculty and staff positions in order to restructure the school's curriculum and relieve WAU's multimillion-dollar debt.

The announcement came as part of Spence's plan to restructure WAU into a health science-focused institution.

As a result, some students and faculty expressed uncertainty and displeasure to local and school-wide media regarding the change in school focus.


Notable alumni

See also


  1. Hashimoto, Giovanni (November 22, 2011). "Adventist College and University Enrollment Generally Up". Spectrum. Retrieved November 23, 2011.
  2. NAICU – Member Directory Archived November 9, 2015, at the Wayback Machine
  3. ""Washington Adventist University" New Name for CUC". adventistreview.org. Retrieved April 14, 2018.
  4. "CUC's New President Talks About 'The Plan'". www.spectrummagazine.org. Retrieved April 14, 2018.
  5. "The Plan for Columbia Union College" (PDF). Columbia Union College. March 5, 2008. Retrieved May 28, 2008.
  6. "Washington Adventist University". www.wauathletics.com. Retrieved April 14, 2018.
  7. Adventist Colleges Abroad Archived June 14, 2008, at the Wayback Machine
  8. "Christian College to Keep Radio Station". Retrieved April 14, 2018 via www.washingtonpost.com.
  9. "Columbia Union to cut, freeze teaching positions". www.gazette.net. Retrieved April 14, 2018.
  10. James Coffin. "Leonard Bailey; Exclusive Interview Leonard Bailey Tells His Story". Adventist Review.
  11. "Maryland and the US Government, House of Representatives". Maryland Government. Retrieved October 10, 2010.
  12. "Life Sketch of HMS Richards". Voice of Prophecy. Retrieved October 10, 2010.
  13. "About Rachel Roy". Rachel Roy. Archived from the original on December 26, 2018. Retrieved December 26, 2018.
  14. "Perseverance, creativity keys to success, Tyler lecturer says". University of Delaware. Retrieved October 10, 2010.
  15. Wilkinson, Benjamin George (2014). Our Authorized Bible Vindicated. TEACH Services, Inc. ISBN 9781479604326.
  16. Oliver, Ansel; Kellner, Mark (June 24, 2010). "Wilson elected president of Seventh-day Adventist world church". Adventist News Network. Seventh-day Adventist Church. Archived from the original on December 26, 2018. Retrieved December 26, 2018.

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