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MBA Challenges

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Dr. Richard Osborn: Educational Challenge
Will the Future Arrive Ahead of Schedule? 11 Premises
Response: Don Driver

A few years ago a Union President and I were engaged in a discussion about our increasing educational challenges when he said, “No one has been willing to step up and do what is necessary to restructure and stabilize our educational ministry.” Our educational system is struggling.

Dr. Osborn’s presentation addressed wide sweeping concepts that are impacting this ministry. Even though he addresses eleven premises there is significant focus on the financial challenge throughout his presentation. I believe this is appropriate with the rapidly escalating educational costs, the challenges of going into debt with educational loans and the shrinking available monies to families. Educational costs increased 439% between 1982-2007 while income only increased 147%. Public college takes 28% of the median income while private colleges take 76%. 49 of the 50 states flunked the affordability exam. How would our costs fair? In combination with climbing costs is a cash shortage within the church organization hindering increased assistance, thus creating, in many cases, an insurmountable barrier. Having a funding endowment, as indicated by Osborn, is mandated if we are to survive.

Osborn’s discussion about demographics and the success of colleges such as Oakwood, Southern Adventist University, etc hinted at an area that needs in depth discussion and research. Just as it is urgent that the Big Three Auto Manufacturers need to retool to survive so I believe our school system needs to “retool” to stabilize and survive. We need to readdress specialization rather than just liberal arts discipline coupled with a cooperative rather than competitive structure and a reduction of the number of institutions to reduce costs. This concept is often resisted since our current structure has served us well for years. However, we are losing ground with this structure. This is “pushing the envelope” but it will prompt creativity. We should not close our minds just because it is considerably different.

Dr Osborn’s primary focus was on college training and college survival. However, the elementary system is our feeder for the secondary and collegiate systems. Our elementary schools increasingly accept students from non-member families. As beneficial as this is it is quite possible this will decrease the number of students available to our secondary and collegiate schools. I believe our SDA decline in attendance is multifaceted. Fewer SDA children, a growing belief that our product is inferior, an increasing cost of living, a growing expenditure of funds for hi-tech products, the steadily growing cost and a growing belief that elementary educational environment is not as significant as the secondary educational environment.

It appears we need to find a way to educate our families of the quality and value of our elementary education, which carries over to the value of our secondary education. Even though we significantly subsidize our schools we may need to find a way (endowment) to reduce conference expense to our colleges in order to find a way to reduce the tuition cost for our elementary and secondary systems.

The USA is at the edge of bankruptcy, including a meltdown, is fighting a war on two fronts, states are floundering in debt and north America has been pummeled by devastating storms and ravaged by wild fires. It is unlikely we can look to the government for significant additional assistance. As Osborn points out our educational system is based God’s vision. If He still wants our system to continue He will guide us.

I am thankful that Dr. Osborn, one of our educational leaders, has stepped up to address issues impacting the educational system. We now need conference leadership to make a clarion call to begin the process of restructuring and stabilizing this important ministry. Otherwise our educational system will continue to decline and weaken until we have no system to restructure or stabilize.

Don Driver
MBA class of '57
formerly Senior Pastor of Berrien Springs Village Church
Now retired in Meridian, Idaho




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October 07, 2010