Name change for the Adventist school of higher education in Australia is official.
Avondale University is the new name of Avondale University College.
Confirmation of the change came on August 5, 2021, five weeks after the national regulator announced Avondale as the only addition to the “Australian University” category following a transition to new standards.
While references to “Avondale University” have been common since the Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency’s decision on July 1, 2021, the Avondale community has waited for the outcome of two important meetings.
The first was a meeting of Avondale’s governing body, the council, which recommended the new name to the second meeting, members of the Avondale University College Limited company, who are also members of the Executive Committee in the South Pacific Division of the Seventh-day Adventist Church. Meeting for the first time since their quinquennial appointment in July, the Executive Committee members overwhelmingly approved a change in the constitution to recognize the name Avondale University.
The members considered including “Adventist” in the name because Avondale is an entity of the church. But they also noted this historical fact: “Avondale has never had ‘Adventist’ in its name even though [church pioneer] Ellen White was a founder,” chancellor Glenn Townend wrote in an email to members of the Executive Committee and staff of the church organization in the South Pacific. Most people know Avondale is an Adventist entity and has a “strong commitment to the Adventist heritage and purpose of transforming lives to become lifelong disciples of Jesus,” he added.
The name change is the sixth in 124 years. Founded as the Avondale School for Christian Workers (1897-1911), Avondale became the Australasian Missionary College during the war years (1911-1963). The more succinct Avondale College (1964-2011) remained for 547 years. With a variety of educational institutions using the word college to identify themselves, Avondale College of Higher Education (2011-2019) clarified Avondale’s position in the Australian higher education sector. The addition of Avondale to the “Australian University College” category under standards administered by TEQSA prompted another change to Avondale University College (2019-2021).
Vice-chancellor and president Kevin Petrie said Avondale remains “a loyal member of the worldwide Adventist system of universities and colleges. In fact, registration as an Australian university recognizes and celebrates this unique character.” He used research funding as an example. “The church supports our research, which in turn supports the mission of the church by increasing our understanding of historic Adventist fields of significance — society and culture, including biblical study and Christian spirituality, Christian education, and health.”
One of the common questions Petrie receives is whether Avondale can still be a university and maintain its Christian values and Adventist ethos. “And my answer is, absolutely! We’re proud of our unique character and will continue to deliver authentic, faith-based learning so that our graduates can change their world for good. Registration as an Australian university does not change this commitment.”