Given the realities of the situation, there is now no other choice
but to keep AUC open for the long term.  Let me explain.

First let me observe that this meeting, unlike the College constituency
meeting three weeks ago, was carefully choreographed to achieve the 
final result.  It was obvious a week before the meeting not only that
the votes were there to keep the college open, but that it would be
almost impossible to get any alternatives to the floor.  Even so 
it proved to be.  The problems were gone over in detail by several of 
the speakers but all with the positive attitude that they can be 
overcome and we've got to have faith.  A session structured like this
with appeals to religious imagery and having faith and whatever can
get the delegates to approve just about anything, and if these techniques
had been employed 3 weeks ago, the Andrews merger would now be reality.
I must say that it was also more professionally conducted, with 
a better parliamentarian (Glenn Coe) and the speakers all displayed
unity.  Even the external auditor did some preaching in his report.
All the remarks were designed to make the delegates feel like keeping
the college open was the right thing to do and encourage them in that decision.

My pastor, who has served as a pastor in the Northeastern conference,
as a union official, and is now in the New York conference, remarked to 
me that in the Black churches, people deal with problems differently.
The officials do not need to convince them that the money is there, 
they just have to convince them that keeping the college open is important,
and somehow they will go ahead in faith and find a way to do it.  He also
suggested that perhaps it is time for a paradigm shift:  If our major
purpose is providing education at little or no cost to the 60% of our
constituents who have family incomes below $20000/year, then we 
should acknowledge that--that we are competing against CUNY 
and other urban schools, and adjust our cost profile and our funding
profile accordingly.  His remarks are right on.  This is virgin territory.
"Faith accounting" or the concept of a college where less than a third
of the tuition is actually paid by parents and students have not been 
tried before, nor has there been a North American union up until now
where these views have a guaranteed majority at a constituency session.

The cuts:
From the limited information we were given, the cuts appear to be real
and split almost equally between the faculty cutbacks, staff cutbacks
and scholarship fund scholarship.  The cut in scholarship funds to $800K
was presented as a cut from the $1.2M budget they wanted to have for 96-97.
But actual spending on scholarship in 95-96 was twice that much, $2.4M.

The State of The Union:
The two biggest financial decisions were not actually subject to 
vote by the constituency.  These are the $3 million loan to 
keep AUC afloat for the rest of this year, and then the assumption
of that debt and all the rest of the debt by the Union.  (not clear
if this includes the IOU's to the endowment fund or not).
These decisions were made by the Association board last week.
$1 million is coming from the sinking fund of the Atlantic Union,
and $1 million apiece from the Northern and Southern New England
conferences  (for Northern that is still subject to some committee approval,
I believe) from their reserves in the revolving fund.  When 
this is done the fund will be approximately 85% loaned out.
It can be argued that it was necessary to do this to avoid default 
of the college.  But it creates a situation where the union and all 
the conferences within it are very short on reserve funds and cannot
absorb further losses of the college.  

With the $11 million or so assumption of debt, in part this is all 
a paper game because it was our debt too when it was on the college 
books.  But now that loan is not secured, although it is guaranteed
by a percentage of tithe from the conferences for the next 15 years.
If I understand correctly, the legal opinion still is that at least
the New York Conference will notify its trustors that a loan has
been made by the revolving fund on behalf of AUC, not making any
recommendation one way or the other on a course of action to take.

A default of the revolving fund could be disastrous, of course, and 
if its creditors wanted to, they could lay claim to the mortgages
it holds on various church properties across the Atlantic Union.
Therefore it is the responsibility of all church members to do due
diligence to make sure that doesn't happen, as I outline below.

The Declaration of Independence:
We have voted that AUC will stay open with "the constituency" bearing 
the risk.  Who is the constituency?  It is not the union office because
they have no reserves left.  It is not the conferences because that
amendment was explicitly voted down.  That leaves me and the other 75000-odd
members of the Atlantic Union as "the constituency."  

It is clear that there is no financial safety net for AUC.  It must
operate in the black this year, or die.  But what if it does die?
It appears that, like the signers of the Declaration of Independence,
the constituency meeting has pledged the "lives, fortunes, and sacred honor"
of every member in the union.  Just to finish this year we have 
assumed $11 million of debt into the Union books and depleted the union
and conference reserves in so doing.   By continuing next year, we have
put the full faith and credit of the Seventh-day Adventist Church
as a whole on the line.  Ascending liability means that the lawyers
would follow the money up to the General Conference.  I wonder, though,
if there is legal precedent to make either those present at the constituency
or all members legally liable for the damages?  

The fact is that the only places for AUC to get revenue now are 
student fees and fundraising.  Neither of those is possible if the college
is closed.  Even an orderly close at the end of the year when all 
contracts are up could cost millions...millions we don't have and have
no way to get.  In all likelihood contracts
will be issued at AUC in the next couple days and we will have crossed
the point of no return, where AUC cannot lose any more money AND we 
can no longer afford to pay for it to close.  We are basically holding
a gun to our own heads and saying that if anyone dares to let the college
go under, it will be the end of the Atlantic Union as we know it
and create wider financial repercussions throughout the world church.

It follows therefore, that the only way to avoid total disaster for this
union and the church in North America at large is to keep the college
open and get it operating in the black.  There can be no further talk
of closing the college.  AUC is open for business and must stay that
way during the 15 years we are repaying the debt.  Our fiduciary
responsibilities demand that we do this.  I voted against the motion
in the meeting, but now with the financial survival of the church 
at stake I, and everyone else, must back the college.  We have no other choice.
I can assure you that the votes will *always* be there to keep AUC open
and we must trust the Lord (whom we claim through the Holy Spirit
is inspiring these votes) that the cash will be there too.
I call on any North American SDA's who believe that it is important
to maintain the full faith and credit of the Seventh-day Adventist church
in North America to join me in this endeavor.  No college is an island,
entire of itself.  

Steve Timm