Celebrating Andrews

In February and March, 2023, President Andrea Luxton shared a series of personal, and direct from the heart, email messages with the Andrews University community. You'll find a collection of those "Celebrating Our Andrews University Story" letters below.

World Changers: Celebrating Our Andrews Story

Posted on March 6, 2023

To access the entire series of letters from President Andrea Luxton, click here.

March 6, 2023

Dear campus community and friends of the University,

Over the last week, I have been speaking to you personally, directly from my heart, on a number of important issues relevant to the Andrews University community. Why now? It seems that at a time of change for the University, rumors and questions about the University increase. My intent then is to share with you as a way of clearly Celebrating Our Andrews University Story.

I have developed this series of messages prayerfully, keeping in mind our Sharing the Heart of God values that inspire the work of our dedicated University family of employees.

Today will be the end of this week-long series of messages. I want to thank you for your positive feedback throughout the week. It has been such a pleasure to share these messages (and my heart) with you!

Today, for my final message, I am going to talk about that very real reality of having World Changers in our midst now and World Changers leaving here to make a profound difference elsewhere. Put very simply, when Andrews University talks about “World Changers Made Here.” it means the academic and professional excellence of our students and graduates, informed by their faith commitment, leads to a profound and intentional desire to bring positive change to this world. That change might be on the level of individuals, of our church, of the local community or internationally, but it provides a frame to how we use our education and lean in to our faith.

Over the past week I received two completely independent rave reviews from our students, both related to church life. One spoke of going to a church in South Bend to see a baptism. And of course, that was an important moment, but the report was of the individual’s surprise at seeing Andrews students everywhere in this church—not just on placement from the Seminary but leading out, helping in various ways and capacities just because … These students had chosen to go to this church not to satisfy their personal worship experience but because here they could serve.

And then a few days later, a faculty member spoke of going to Harbor of Hope in Benton Harbor and experiencing exactly the same. He spoke of the powerful message from the Seminary student preaching and then added, “But even above that I was so encouraged to meet there, students from not just the seminary but from many of the other schools on campus, who expressed a commitment to ministry, and service. They travel all the way to Benton Harbor, some without personal means of transportation because they had a desire to engage … minister to and reach this marginalized community.” He adds, “Meeting young people like this inspires me and renews my hope.”

I could add story after story. There is the check-out clerk who during COVID commented to a staff member buying supplies for a project for women in a shelter that she was so impressed with Andrews, because while others seemed to be shutting down their “service” during COVID, Andrews was visibly ramping up their responses. There are those who have been touched by our students and faculty working through our International Center for Trauma Education & Care. There is the literacy program we have been running right here in Berrien Springs. There are those whose spiritual and personal lives have been through multiple mission projects, both evangelistic and service, in Cuba, Honduras, Jamaica, Bolivia, Lebanon, Madagascar and so many more places. Whether it is designing and building medical clinics or creating solutions to solve clean water supply challenges, our students with faculty mentors and staff see making a positive change in communities and lives as just what they do.

And I want you to know this is such an exciting part of having been President of this institution. If you keep up with FOCUS magazines or my President’s Page quarterly emails or our Andrews Agenda postings, I know you will have seen what we do consistently, individually and corporately to do what we say we will do in bringing change, healing and hope.

But the list of what we do is not the most important point here. What is important is our intentionality in every program on the campus to help our students ask and answer the “so what?” question. I have studied sociology. So what? I have studied business. So what? I have studied aviation. So what?

Yes, we want our graduates to do well and have some good income. But that is not the Andrews answer to “so what?” The answer to “so what?” is to use what I have learnt and the faith that has deepened in my experience at Andrews and make a difference for the good, a difference for God in this world. That is the answer to “so what!”

World Changers Made Here!

“He has shown you, O man, what is good; And what does the Lord require of you, but to do justly, love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God?” (Micah 6:8).

Andrea Luxton
President

Graduates with Purpose: Celebrating Our Story

Posted on March 5, 2023

To access the entire series of letters from President Andrea Luxton, click here.

March 3, 2023

Dear campus community and friends of the University,

Over the last several days, I have been speaking to you personally, directly from my heart, on a number of important issues relevant to the Andrews University community. Why now? It seems that at a time of change for the University, rumors and questions about the University increase. My intent then is to share with you as a way of clearly Celebrating Our Andrews University Story.

I have developed this series of messages prayerfully, keeping in mind our Sharing the Heart of God values that inspire the work of our dedicated University family of employees.

For the second of today’s messages (the first, sent earlier today, talks about The Research Imperative), I want to talk about our graduates and, in particular, share with you about the Andrews University environment that prepares them for a life of purpose.

I think one thing about the reputation of Andrews that is likely known and rarely questioned is that at Andrews you truly do have a strong academic experience and that provides our students with an excellent pathway to success, whether professionally or in graduate school. Comparing us with peer institutions in Michigan, and then peer Adventist institutions, the external agency Niche rating on academics puts us #3 in Michigan (including major public universities), #1 in Christian Universities in Michigan and #1 in Adventist Universities. These impressive rankings are validated by direct feedback from our students, with comments such as, “Great university with excellent academics and fantastic teachers” and “The best University if you are interested in serious academics.”

You might say this is not surprising and what you would expect. Yes, Andrews does have a strong reputation on its academic standards, and we are continually seeking to improve. We can be proud of the success of our graduates academically!

However, also vital within the frame of our unique identity is the faith commitment of our graduates. The National Student Survey of Engagement (NSSE) can help us with that. Among other points of comparison, this survey looks at freshmen and seniors and compares us with other Adventist peer institutions in North America. The good news is that in the latest survey we participated in (2019) the freshman responses rated Andrews University as the same as or in a few cases better than our peers. However, with our seniors—those who know us best—the news is even better: not only are we never behind our peers among the seniors, but there are now multiple areas where we rate measurably higher. To me, that speaks to what I see every day: the spiritual vitality on campus that inspires our students to even deeper levels of faith.

Here are the statements where our overall rating was significantly higher than our peer group:

  • In addition to the Religion faculty, my professors in other departments discuss the ethical implications of what is being studied.
  • My professors have encouraged me to be a thoughtful follower of Jesus.
  • Extracurricular activities reflect the mission.
  • The Bible has become more relevant to my life.
  • As a result of my experience at my university I am more committed to the beliefs and values of the Seventh-day Adventist Church.

Andrews University seniors also indicated a higher frequency than their peers of having conversations about spiritual values with fellow students outside of class, as well as a higher frequency of spending time in personal, individual devotions.

What I want to note here is firstly that the average rates of all our Adventist institutions are high (mostly an average of around 4 on a 5 point scale). But I would add that very specifically the Andrews experience is clearly one that for most of our students deepens their faith, grows their love for Christ and encourages them to be faithful members of the Seventh-day Adventist Church.

Statistics say a lot. And as we look at these figures we have many reasons to celebrate our learning and faith community. Statistics also suggest to us where we need to dig deeper and so we do that, too. However, powerful as those statistics may be, it is the stories of our students and our graduates that say even more. Do check out our FOCUS magazine—our annual report will be out soon; I can guarantee you will be humbled by what you read.

The vast majority of our graduates are poised to live a life of purpose: academically prepared and committed to a life of thoughtful engagement in faith and the Church.

"The Lord will fulfill His purpose for me; Your steadfast love, O Lord, endures forever. Do not forsake the work of your hands" (Psalm 138:8).

And next Monday this series of messages concludes with: World Changers: Celebrating Our Andrews University Story.

Andrea Luxton
President

The Research Imperative: Celebrating Our Story

Posted on March 3, 2023

To access the entire series of letters from President Andrea Luxton, click here.

March 3, 2023

Dear campus community and friends of the University,

Over the last several days, I have been speaking to you personally, directly from my heart, on a number of important issues relevant to the Andrews University community. Why now? It seems that at a time of change for the University, rumors and questions about the University increase. My intent then is to share with you as a way of clearly Celebrating Our Andrews University Story.

I have developed this series of messages prayerfully, keeping in mind our Sharing the Heart of God values that inspire the work of our dedicated University family of employees.

For the first of today’s messages (the second, to be sent this afternoon, talks about Graduates with Purpose), I want to talk about another unique part of our Andrews University Story and one that we are also passionate about. We are the only Adventist university in North America designated as a Doctoral University: Moderate Research Activity, or in any research classification.

You might ask, why is it even important for us as an Adventist university to value research as part of our identity? Ellen White helps us in “Ministry of Healing” with, “It is right for the youth to feel that they must reach the highest development of their mental powers. We would not restrict the education to which God has set no limit. But our attainments avail nothing if not put to use for the honor of God and the good of humanity.” And here we have it: the highest development of the mind, and research is definitely essential in that, and then the use of our mind for the honor of God in this world. Research is where we ask the questions, where we seek for answers and imagine new opportunities and solutions.

Unquestionably, we do the research piece well with our students. At the annual conference of the American Sociological Association a project by one of our undergraduate students was mistaken for a dissertation and in a competitive group of five presenters still came in second. Another student won a prize for her undergraduate research proposal at the American Public Health Association annual meeting in the graduate student section. “I had incredible support and an opportunity to grow as a student researcher in my time at Andrews University that allowed me to get into the University of Michigan, the #1 program in my area of study,” says a former student.

But capacity building in research for our students through both strong undergraduate and graduate research programs, including our outstanding Honors program, is just one side of our research imperative. The other is the emphasis of our research. Yes, some relate to the important task of deepening knowledge in the areas of expertise of our faculty and students. But very importantly, much of our research confirms the value of Adventist education, our health message, the importance of families and the impact of faith in human thriving and healthy behaviors. And so we focus on research on substance abuse, families in crisis, deeper biblical understanding, mission, leadership in the church and other church organizations and so on. I would encourage you to check out Digital Commons, accessed through our library. There you will discover the breadth of the research we undertake and the spread of the impact of that research both in the United States and around the world, both in the Adventist community and beyond.

Yes, part of the Andrews University DNA is to build the research capacity of our students and colleagues and then use that capacity to share knowledge that helps build faith, deepen understanding and offer pathways to solutions in our damaged world.

“And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind[set], that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God” (Romans 12:2).

And this afternoon: Graduates With Purpose: Celebrating Our Andrews University Story.

Andrea Luxton
President

Faithful and Compassionate: Celebrating Our Story

Posted on March 2, 2023

To access the entire series of letters from President Andrea Luxton, click here.

March 2, 2023

Dear campus community and friends of the University,

Over the last several days, I have been speaking to you personally, directly from my heart, on a number of important issues relevant to the Andrews University community. Why now? It seems that at a time of change for the University, rumors and questions about the University increase. My intent then is to share with you as a way of clearly Celebrating Our Andrews University Story.

I have developed this series of messages prayerfully, keeping in mind our Sharing the Heart of God values that inspire the work of our dedicated University family of employees.

In this fourth message, I want to talk about LGBTQ+, and the issues of faithfulness and compassion, as this is such a sensitive and critical issue in many individuals’ minds.

First of all, I want to be clear that Andrews University unequivocally accepts, and supports in action, the Seventh-day Adventist positions on marriage and sexuality, including in relation to the LGBTQ+ community. You can see the Church statement here, along with the Student Life policy of the University and the statement by the Seventh-day Adventist Theological Seminary. All of these inform our actions and our decisions on a daily basis. Our behavior expectations of employees and students fully align with the Church and our own policies and statements. And not only are these expectations; they are how we choose to live in this community.

What does that mean in practice? Each of these documents balances two essential practices that are biblical and expected by our Church. The first is to fully uphold the Bible’s teaching on marriage and sexuality and our Church’s statement on those teachings. This is the theological piece and invites our faithfulness. We say yes. The second is to fully uphold the Bible’s teaching on how we treat each other as Christians and Christ’s imperative that we love each other just as God loves us (each of us). This is compassion. And again we say yes. As we know, however, from lived experience, these two critical expectations, when held together, can create a significant level of tension in our fallen world. Yet at Andrews University we do accept our responsibility to both these expectations.

How do we ensure we do both fully? That is not easy, but we still seek to do so. The Adventist Accrediting Association’s recent review of the University directly commended Andrews for the way it seeks to intentionally find that right balance. The Board of Trustees Student Experience & Faith Development subcommittee similarly has engaged with the University in framing a range of responses. But those are words, reports and policies. Behind those, I want to assure you, is what is most important of all: our prayerful commitment to seek to uphold both the biblical commands on sexual relationships in all forms and the expectation of letting all our community know and experience the personal love of God for them.

It is true that as we live out this biblical tension, there will be those more attuned to the University’s faithfulness to Scripture and those more focused on compassion for those who identify as LGBTQ+ in our midst. And I know there will be times when despite our sincere attempts, we fall short of meeting each other’s expectations. The efforts of some to maintain a caring presence in the lives of LGBTQ+ friends and loved ones may, at times, appear to others as a compromise. Likewise, some may see those taking a firm stance on biblical principles as less compassionate or understanding. Please know that at those times we will need each other’s moral sensibilities to find and live this balance well.

But finally, let us by no means lose sight of the humanity we all share. We all have a need for personal healing, for experiencing the touch of Christ in our lives. We all live with the reality of God’s promise to lead us through times of challenge, to walk with us in darkness, to offer hope and show love: that is where we all stand together under the cross. All human. All in need of a Savior. But all with the recognition of the love of God that passes all understanding.

100% faithful; 100% compassionate. That is our prayerful goal.

“The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness” (Lamentations 3:22–23).

And for tomorrow, Friday, mirroring the double portion of manna in the wilderness, there will be two letters.

The Research Imperative: Celebrating Our Andrews University Story
Graduates with Purpose: Celebrating Our Andrews University Story

Andrea Luxton
President

Truly Adventist: Celebrating our Andrews Story

Posted on March 1, 2023

To access the entire series of letters from President Andrea Luxton, click here.

March 1, 2023

Dear campus community and friends of the University,

Over the next several days, I will be speaking to you personally, directly from my heart, on a number of important issues relevant to the Andrews University community. Why now? It seems that at a time of change for the University, rumors and questions about the University increase. My intent then is to share with you as a way of clearly Celebrating Our Andrews University Story.

I have developed this series of messages prayerfully, keeping in mind our Sharing the Heart of God values that inspire the work of our dedicated University family of employees.

In this third message, I want to talk about whether Andrews University truly is Adventist.

I remember clearly still at age 18 making a decision that would change the trajectory of my life. I chose to leave public university and move to Newbold College solely for one reason. I had brilliant lecturers, I was doing academically very well, but I was “starving” for something else that at the time was hard to define. Only later could I define what that was: a perspective, a worldview, a biblical frame through which to view my learning and indeed my whole university experience.

Now I can’t say that after moving to Newbold College and later to Andrews University that everything then became perfect. But I do know this: I had professors and administrators and staff who consistently sought to show through their lives and teaching how to be a consummate professional as well as a vibrant Christian and how to be a thoughtful and perceptive graduate within a biblical and Adventist worldview. That started my journey of a lifetime of commitment to Adventist education.

So it is not surprising that I am frustrated and disappointed when critics make uninformed comments such as, “Andrews University is not even Adventist anymore” or “I am going to send my son/daughter to a public university because Adventist universities have lost their way.” As I work and share my life daily with 600+ employees who are at Andrews University only because they are committed to its mission, I can tell you these accusations are absolutely not accurate. While students at Andrews succeed extremely well academically (and that is for another time), there is nothing that fully compensates in a public setting with the lens of faith and belief through which our professors teach their disciplines. There is nothing equal to the opportunities for worship and exploration of faith in the supportive Adventist and Christian environment of this campus in a public setting. My heart is filled with joy when I consider the number of student-led vespers services each Friday evening around campus, and the variety of church services every Sabbath—both on campus and throughout the community—that attract and engage our students in praising God!

We are unapologetically Seventh-day Adventist. We live and breathe our faith into all that we do. Our faculty use their disciplines, whether mathematics, psychology, business or physical therapy to, both in the classrooms and without, find ways of showing how we can grow as much or more in our faith and commitment as we delve increasingly deeply into our disciplines. Learning never takes place in a vacuum. I instinctively sensed that at 19; now I know, have lived and still live that difference.

So yes our unique Adventist doctrines are taught on an Adventist campus (that is the important “head knowledge”); they are also lived. Our worship and valuing of community and communion on Sabbath, our commitment to living our lives recognizing the immanence of Christ in our lives now and the soon Second Coming, our understanding of the value and sanctity of all who are created in God’s image: all that and more changes the way we live, as Adventists, as Christians. As one graduate put it, “I loved the energy and spiritual focus” and another, “God is in everything.” Other letters in this week-long sequence will speak further to the vitality of faith at Andrews University and how it is seen in our deep commitment to service.

Are we truly Adventist? Oh yes, we truly are. We are also humans, but that does not stop us striving to be the best representatives of the gospel and the unique message of the Seventh-day Adventist Church that we can be. Please let nobody tell you otherwise.

“If you abide in my word, truly you are my disciples, and you will know the truth and the truth will set you free” (John 8:31–32).

And tomorrow: Faithful & Compassionate: Celebrating Our Andrews University Story.

Andrea Luxton
President

First in Diversity: Celebrating our Andrews Story

Posted on February 28, 2023

To access the entire series of letters from President Andrea Luxton, click here.

Feb. 28, 2023

Dear campus community and friends of the University,

Over the next several days, I will be speaking to you personally, directly from my heart, on a number of important issues relevant to the Andrews University community. Why now? It seems that at a time of change for the University, rumors and questions about the University increase. My intent then is to share with you as a way of clearly Celebrating Our Andrews University Story.

I have developed this series of messages prayerfully, keeping in mind our Sharing the Heart of God values that inspire the work of our dedicated University family of employees.

In this second message, I want to talk about what it means to be #1 in Diversity among National Universities in the United States and how we might celebrate and best understand that recognition. And this piece is talking solely about diversity of culture and race which is what this #1 standing celebrates.

As we can likely all agree, God’s creative plan was unquestionably to create diversity in all its amazing forms. Revelation talks about how all tongues and nations will be there at the throne of God. In fact the Bible consistently celebrates the diversity of peoples, including the unique God-given talents of each individual. And the Bible too is very much about “inclusion,” a word that speaks to the place of everyone around God’s table.

And yet, I know that our status of #1 in Diversity brings fear and discomfort to some. How can something that is good in God’s plan become such a challenge for those that look on? I would suggest, to start with, that Critical Race Theory debates get in the way. Fear of “wokeness” gets in the way, even if that wokeness cannot really be defined. Fear that I won’t be accepted because “there are too many of ____ culture” gets in the way. And so we find excuses that allow us to push away what is good and enriching to seek to find a comfortable space, but I have to say it: a space that is less rich, less representative of God’s kingdom, and that consciously or unconsciously diminishes the awesomeness of God’s creation.

However, if we look past the assumptions attached to the meaning of theoretical models and the battleground of words, what does it mean to Andrews University to be #1 in Diversity? I would suggest it means we have a unique opportunity to be something very special at Andrews University. It means that we are opposed to denigrating or devaluing any individual. It means we choose to celebrate the richness of the full community God has brought to this place. It means we seek to listen, learn and understand the challenging journeys of each other, apologize where we have caused hurt personally and corporately, and look for pathways that bring increased strength to this University and to our church and the world.

Surveys of our students show that across all cultural and racial divides (including the majority culture of the United States) our students see this opportunity as consistently one of the most amazing experiences of their University experience. For example, “Andrews University is exclusively known for diversity and inclusion. You get to build incredible relationships with people from different backgrounds and learn so much about other cultures ... my first year was pretty tough considering I was living in a community far from home. However, the relationships I built and the emotional/academic support I got from it was beyond a blessing.”

But I don’t want to be naïve. Of course diversity in our human world can bring tension. Of course there are arguments about how best we live in a diverse community. Of course there are risks. But I want to let you know that the rewards are so many. So today I ask that we don’t let the narratives on Critical Race Theory and Black Lives Matter and wokeness, snapshots and critiques of an individual or something that may have been said, drive your attention away from the reality of this community. That is the reality of a University that seeks to be honest with itself, bring value and dignity to all peoples, even within the messiness of this world, and chooses daily to take the more difficult path of the gospel that includes wrestling for the meaning of the values of justice and compassion within a very divisive world.

We are better because of our diverse student population. Our graduates are better prepared to work within an increasingly diverse country and world. And all of us together are learning to be better Christians, better reflections of God’s kingdom by being part of the #1 diverse university in the United States.

“After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb” (Revelation 7:9).

And tomorrow: Truly Adventist: Celebrating Our Andrews University Story.

Andrea Luxton
President

Prayer and Revival: Celebrating our Andrews Story

Posted on February 27, 2023

To access the entire series of letters from President Andrea Luxton, click here.

Feb. 27, 2023

Dear campus community and friends of the University,

Over the next several days, I will be speaking to you personally, directly from my heart, on a number of important issues relevant to the Andrews University community. Why now? It seems that at a time of change for the University, rumors and questions about the University increase. My intent then is to share with you as a way of clearly Celebrating Our Andrews University Story.

I have developed this series of messages prayerfully, keeping in mind our Sharing the Heart of God values that inspire the work of our dedicated University family of employees.

This first letter speaks about prayer and revival and its central importance to our University (and faith) community, a topic very much in our current conversations.

I want to start by telling you a personal story. When I was 17 years old, in my final year of secondary school in England, I along with two friends decided to meet every day before school to pray to see if the “prayer thing” really worked. We read a Scripture and prayed—just for 15 minutes each day. After about a week, it became clear that something was really happening in those moments together, so much so that our classmates noticed and asked to join. As the numbers grew, we asked the school principal if we could have a larger room and start opening these morning sessions to other students. He agreed. Soon our prayer sessions spread throughout the school and up to 100 students (11 to 18 year olds) would come each morning before school to join us. Teachers started coming and yes, it lasted for the remainder of that school year until I completed my secondary education. Yes, it was a revival.

I very much believe in prayer and I very much believe in revival. I have been part of one. I was one of those who started one. I cannot talk about others, but the change that took place in me over those weeks has never gone away. Those who took part in the revival on this campus in the 1970s similarly speak of that impact. Is this the right time for another revival at Andrews University? And what does that revival look like?

I would suggest it is always time for a revival. Big scale, small scale, in the lives of individual students and employees. It is always time for a revival. If we are ready, and when we pray, God then decides the how and when. In fact, I would suggest that actually the 1970s may not have been the last time there was a revival here at Andrews University. In fact, just in the last week, some have shared with me that there was an Andrews University campus revival in the late 1990s which involved hundreds of our students, and led to ministering to the city of Benton Harbor—ministry efforts which continue to this day and include a new Adventist church in that city that directly grew out of that ministry.

I would add, however, that I don’t think we need revival when there is just spiritual malaise. When I started a revival, was it because I thought others were not spiritual enough? No, it was because I decided I needed more of God. It doesn’t matter where I have been on a college or university campus, there has always been a feeling by some that a campus is not spiritual enough or is somehow getting less spiritual. This campus, as well as churches and other faith institutions, also gets accused of that. And that is natural. However, we measure what we value, and we really value the faith and spirituality of students. These measurements tell a different story, a distinctly hopeful and reassuring story.

As I look at Andrews University and as I see the spiritual surveys and exit reports, including identifications of commitment to faith and mission, I am actually humbled by what God is doing in the individual lives of our students. Here is just one example: “I was strengthened in faith through my professors and also through their teachings I was able to grow spiritually in my Adventist identity.”

And as I see the amazing commitment of our faculty, Student Life professionals, chaplains and other staff and how they engage personally in the spiritual lives of their students, I am again humbled. Indeed, our students’ Sabbath worship attendance and engagement and our service and mission engagement is at a level that many other faith communities, either on a campus or in an individual church, envy.

I say and share all of this as a reality check. Andrews University in 2023 is packed with students and employees who are exhibiting their faith and commitment to mission daily and in very real ways.

So does that mean we don’t need a revival at Andrews University? To the contrary. We always need revival. And I believe we already actually experience revival in the hearts and lives of our students every day. But are we ready for a large-scale revival? It would be wonderful to see that, too.

And so we pray for ourselves, for each other. And as God shows us of our personal need for Him, and we respond, maybe the revival we experience will be for us; maybe it will ignite beyond us.

Either way, I want you all to know that God is deeply present on this campus in a very real way. Please know that. And God’s renewal and revival? By all means, but let it start with us.

“And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near” (Hebrews 10:24–25).

And tomorrow: First in Diversity: Celebrating Our Andrews University Story.

Andrea Luxton
President