Fifty years ago an educated man was one who had attended high school. Thirty years ago a high school graduate was well qualified for life, except in the professional fields. In the field of teaching, one could qualify as an elementary teacher in many States with only six or eight weeks of study beyond the high school diploma. Doctors could enter medicine with two years of college work, and often less. Attendance at college was for a tiny minority, the favored few.
How times have changed—and so rapidly! In the space of a few years educational standards have risen so abruptly that what was considered adequate training only a few years ago is now considered merely preparatory work. A bachelor's degree is mandatory for entry into almost any professional training. In many ways today's college degree is of no more value than yesterday's high school diploma. In the field of education a bachelor's degree is necessary for full certification as an elementary teacher in the majority of States, and soon is likely to be required in all. A master's degree is obligatory in most States for full certification as a secondary teacher. And so it goes!
The Seventh-day Adventist educational system has taken cognizance of these changes. As standards of education have been raised, we have raised our standards. Education and training of our denominational youth has been an important part of the program of this church from the beginning. We have been instructed that we should not be inferior in any aspect of this work. With the continual upgrading of education in America and other parts of the world, with increasingly higher requirements, professional and educational, we have striven to qualify an educational force to serve our needs in this day.
During the last twenty years, to meet the needs of our educational system, scores and then hundreds of persons have attended institutions of higher learning, both here and abroad, in pursuit of graduate degrees. Today, there are literally hundreds of Seventh-day Adventists engaged in such study programs, the majority in preparation for places within our own denominational system. Although this program has made possible the maintenance of adequate educational standards within our school system, it became increasingly obvious to many, as the necessity for it became ever greater, that we ought to be able to supply much of this training within the framework of our own educational system. Medically, we solved our needs with an outstanding medical school, and now a first-class dental school. Our Seminary plays an increasingly important part in the training of the ministry. It seemed only the part of wisdom and logic to extend these facilities into the area of our educational needs for teachers and others.
At the recent Autumn Council, action was taken to start the organization of a program and institution to help fill these needs. With a feeling that there is need to emphasize anew the value and importance of our philosophy of Christian education, it was voted to organize a university-type General Conference educational institution involving an organic union of the Seventh-day Adventist Theological Seminary and a new graduate school, now being established, with an affiliation with Washington Missionary College as the undergraduate institution. The Seminary will retain its distinctive framework and character, but alongside it a school of graduate studies is being organized with programs leading to degrees of Master of Arts and Doctor of Philosophy.
The university administration at the present moment consists of E. D. Dick as temporary president, and W. H. Beaven as temporary dean of the graduate school. Committees are at work preparing charter, constitution and bylaws, organizing curricula, considering faculty and facilities, tackling the hundred and one problems that must arise in the launching of such a venture. It is hoped that soon these committees will have done their work, and the yet-unmanned institution will be legally organized, with its own board of directors, ready to carry to completion this great program.
The initial graduate program will deal with the most pressing immediate needs, preparing teachers in the areas of education and religion, in addition to the areas covered by Seminary curricula. Supporting fields in history, English, speech, and other areas will be offered immediately, with majors in these and other areas opened as soon as demand, teaching staff, and facilities permit.
The program is planned to start with the summer session of 1957, June 17 to August 29. It has already been voted to offer the following courses, and staff members of experience and ability are being called to teach them: (See the PDF for Table of Course Listings and Credits)
The above are in addition to the regular Seminary courses and will be administered through the new graduate-school organization. Other offerings may be available if sufficient demand warrants, and these may be modified to meet the needs of prospective students.
Already authorized is the employment of a full-time professor of education, and plans are being laid to offer courses on the graduate level during the school year 1957-58.
This venture is a bold one, taken by faith. A need exists, and we are moving forward to meet the need. To create a full-fledged graduate institution, with organization, facilities, equipment, faculty, and above all, a philosophy of educational content and procedure, is by no means a simple task. At this writing more questions remain unanswered than are answered. But by prayer, study, and perseverance, the men and committees assigned to the task of creating this new institution are steadily meeting and solving these problems. A committee on curricula is currently studying programs leading to degrees. Facilities now available through the Seminary and Washington Missionary College will be greatly expanded and will become adequate, it is planned, with the erection of a new building on the new Seminary campus
If ever a unity of purpose was needed in the building of a program, it is now. This action may be the most important undertaken by this denomination in many years. It is conceivable that the whole structure of our educational system depends upon the care with which the framework of this new superstructure is erected, and the courage and good will with which we devise and carry out the contemplated program. Every minister, every administrator, every educator, has an incalculable stake in the success of this venture. Your prayers, plans, advice, and support are earnestly solicited and devoutly desired.