A letter from President Heather J. Knight
Pacific Union College has been on an upward trajectory with an increasing enrollment, multiple on-campus renovation projects and a general positive atmosphere on campus shared by faculty, staff and students. Most exciting is the spirit and commitment of our students, who are eagerly engaged in service projects, locally and globally. They are truly inspiring in their motivation to serve their community and to serve their God, and it is a privilege to be part of a distinctive learning community that is preparing them to, indeed, change the world.
Yet even as we are on a path of growth and progress, PUC must make some important decisions to ensure our fiscal viability for future generations of students. In truth, we are asset rich but resource poor. Among the pressing issues that we need to address is the need for more scholarships for our students in these tough economic times, our institutional debt, many years of deferred maintenance, and an inadequate compensation plan for our dedicated faculty and staff. In the end, increased enrollment and philanthropy alone will not correct these long- standing systemic problems.
While many colleges face similar financial challenges as PUC, fiscally healthy colleges and universities invest in their endowment, a fund that will provide steady income to an institution for perpetuity. An endowment alone is not a solution, but it is a long-term investment in fiscal viability and sustainability along with continued sound financial management.
In the effort to be good stewards of the college’s assets, the PUC Board of Trustees voted in 2002 and again recently to monetize property that is non-essential to our core educational mission. If assets are sold, 100 percent of the net proceeds will go into the college’s endowment— another decision voted by the Board of Trustees that will ensure that the investment is secured for posterity and not simply utilized on immediate operational needs.
The property listing encompasses the property east of the airport and Belleau Field—all of which is zoned agricultural or ag/watershed, so the main campus could not ever expand into this area. This property has not been used by PUC, is currently not in use by the College and is not being planned for use in our long-term Campus Master Plan, which was completed in June 2011. We have listed all available property in order to give a possible buyer flexibility, but the College, like any other potential seller, reserves the right to determine which portions will ultimately be sold. Currently, the offers we have received focus on 600 acres of PUC’s 1,860 acres.
Furthermore, the PUC Board of Trustees and the College administration are committed to preserving and protecting into perpetuity the 900 acres of woods and trails enjoyed now by faculty, staff and students, as well as our local community. PUC has been in Angwin since 1909, and we wish to continue to be an asset to this wonderful community and to continue to be good neighbors. Surely there will be honest disagreements about the College’s decision to monetize a portion of its assets, but if you are concerned, I urge you to first ascertain the accurate facts so as not to inadvertently share any misinformation. That is why I have decided to share this letter with you.
As president, I care deeply about PUC, and the decision to list a portion of our property is not something I take lightly. It is also important to understand that this decision is very important for the PUC Board of Trustees, most of whom are alumni, and they have a deep connection to the property as well. We have thoughtfully and prayerfully examined the situation, and we feel that at least exploring this opportunity is the right decision for PUC at this critical time.
Heather J. Knight, Ph.D.
President, Pacific Union College
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