A Sabbath Jubilee

Walla Walla University, in service of its mission and core themes, will pursue a Decade of Sabbath Jubilee — celebrating and sharpening the best of who we are and what God has called us to be: a university offering unparalleled higher education in the context of wholistic, Christian community.

The seventh-day Sabbath, with its call to weekly rest and the rhythms of grace, is rooted in the creation story (Genesis 2:1–3; Exodus 20:8–11). In Old Testament times, the year of Jubilee was celebrated as a year of rest and release (Leviticus 25:1–17).1 Jesus powerfully joins Sabbath and Jubilee in a synagogue reading, announcing the arrival of “‘the year of the Lord’s favor’” with good news offered to the poor, liberty to captives and the oppressed, and sight to the blind (Luke 4:16–21).

Together, trustees, administrators, faculty, staff and students will tune our ears to hear this announcement of Sabbath Jubilee by Jesus, exploring and actualizing its meanings for Walla Walla University. Sabbath Jubilee will inform everything we do as we seek the margin, balance and rest it harbors.

Our attention to this theme will be evidenced in five bold commitments:

Sabbath Jubilee Commitment One: Economic Jubilee2

Walla Walla University will pursue, and celebrate, a Biblical vision of economic Sabbath Jubilee — a fresh, resource reality marked by the absence of financial debt, the presence of fiscal margin, and the generous investment of funds toward academic innovation and campus life excellence. This economic jubilee will consist of three major objectives:

PRIORITY ONE: Annual Budget Margin of 10 Percent

Walla Walla University will adopt a keystone habit of achieving an annual budget margin of 10 percent by the 2022–2023 fiscal year.3 This margin will be used to foster institutional sustainability and academic innovation.

PRIORITY TWO: Comprehensive Campaign

Walla Walla University will raise $30 million in a comprehensive campaign for the purpose of growing our endowment, renewing our physical campuses and investing in academic innovation. This fundraising goal shall be realized by the completion of the 2019–2020 school year.

PRIORITY THREE: Enrollment Management

Walla Walla University will determine an appropriate student population size and strategy. This proactive enrollment management will assist institutional economic predictability and year-to-year stability.

Sabbath Jubilee Commitment Two: Excellence in Thought4

Walla Walla University will pursue, and celebrate, a biblical vision of academic Sabbath Jubilee. Our motivation for all intellectual inquiry is original, and unsurpassed in importance: the Creator made the whole of creation very good. Upon completion of His creation, God invited human beings to join him in an enduring admiration and celebration of His creative excellence: Sabbath Jubilee. In the next decade, in service of this commitment, we shall pursue the following four objectives. This means we will sharpen our identity as a university offering unparalleled higher education in the context of wholistic, Christian community.

PRIORITY ONE: Balance and Wellness

We will ensure that the values of balance and wellness mark our academic life.

PRIORITY TWO: Student Success

We will design and implement a more structured student success strategy that will feature an invigorated academic advising process and a personal success plan for each undergraduate student.

PRIORITY THREE: Faculty Excellence

We will develop clear markers of excellence for faculty in teaching, advising, professionalism and scholarship within a framework of heightened accountability and increased remuneration.

PRIORITY FOUR: Innovative Curricula

We will emphasize critical thinking, problem-solving and communication as essential skills by integrating them across the curriculum and student life. Early in this decade, we will redesign all curricula to ensure: 1) scope of requirements encourages student success, 2) delivery meets sustainability goals, and 3) each curriculum is innovative and forward-looking.

Sabbath Jubilee Commitment Three: Generosity in Service5

Walla Walla University will pursue, and celebrate, a Biblical vision of humanitarian Sabbath Jubilee. This means all members of our academic community — the board of trustees, administrators, faculty, staff and students will participate in service to our world. Walla Walla University will work to intentionally prepare our students for a lifetime of dedicated service to God, the church and the world. In the next decade, in service of this commitment, we shall pursue the following three objectives:

PRIORITY ONE: Department of Community Service and Mission

Walla Walla University will develop a department of community service and mission for the purposes of defining university-wide expectations for service and developing service opportunities and service learning in both local and global evangelistic and humanitarian work.

PRIORITY TWO: Signature Service Project

Walla Walla University will develop an institutional level, long-term service relationship — whereby Walla Walla University serves its community with a signature project/relationship. Walla Walla University will become “known” for this endeavor.

PRIORITY THREE: Low-debt and No-debt Trajectories

Walla Walla University will develop and implement low-debt and no-debt trajectories to help students more easily live as post-graduates in productive service to God, church and the world.

Sabbath Jubilee Commitment Four: Beauty in Expression6

Walla Walla University will pursue, and celebrate, a Biblical vision of aesthetic Sabbath Jubilee. We will, over the next decade, commit ourselves to these three objectives, three expressions of beauty:

PRIORITY ONE: Campus Beautification

Walla Walla University will beautify its physical campuses with the elimination of all deferred maintenance and the renovation and renewal of existing buildings.

PRIORITY TWO: Professionalism

Walla Walla University will develop a new professionalism program for all students, including academic and non-academic experiences, wherein men and women are taught to live, act and work — to express themselves, as leaders — with beauty, excellence and grace.

PRIORITY THREE: Sharing the Arts

Walla Walla University will infuse beauty into the Walla Walla Valley — deploying faculty, staff and students in an effort to bring the arts to under-served communities, with particular attention to children who enjoy little or no access to music and visual art.

Sabbath Jubilee Commitment Five: Faith in God7

Walla Walla University will pursue, and celebrate, a Biblical vision of faith-focused Sabbath Jubilee, in the tradition of Seventh-day Adventist Christianity. To this end, we commit ourselves to the following three objectives:

PRIORITY ONE: Center for Sabbath Celebration

Walla Walla University will form a Center for Sabbath Celebration. This new entity will promote — within Adventism and beyond — the way a Sabbath-keeping and a Sabbath lifestyle can bring glory to God, and health and beauty to human community.

PRIORITY TWO: Partnering with Churches and Schools

Walla Walla University will strengthen its service to the Seventh-day Adventist Church through the formation of fresh partnerships with local congregations and elementary and secondary schools of the North Pacific Union Conference. We will form teams of skilled students who will provide support to these church and school communities.

PRIORITY THREE: Religious Instruction

Walla Walla University will consider carefully all major religious instruction on our campuses — theology courses, convocations, Sabbath Schools, church services and other gatherings — to ensure each student has opportunity to consider Christian faith and practice in a thorough and systematic way and to reflect on philosophical, doctrinal and behavioral questions relevant to the contemporary world.

  1. In the Year of Jubilee, captives were set free, land was returned to the original owners, and debts were forgiven. It was Sabbath extended: “The 50th year in a series of seven Sabbatical Years. The Year of Jubilee (from Heb. yobel, ‘ram’s horn’) is the last layer in the extension of the sabbath principle that begins with the day of rest every seventh day, extended in the Sabbatical Year fallow every seventh year, to the Jubilee.” Robin J. DeWitt Knauth, “Jubilee, Year of” in Eerdman’s Dictionary of the Bible (2000), p. 743.
  2. Sabbath Jubilee calls us to economic Jubilee, to live with fiscal margin and the absence of debt (Leviticus 25:1–17).
  3. The concept of a “keystone habit” comes from the book The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do In Life and Business by Charles Duhigg (Random House, 2012).
  4. Sabbath Jubilee invites us to think on the excellence of God’s creation (Genesis 1:31–2:3).
  5. Sabbath Jubilee invites us to serve our fellow human beings (Deuteronomy 15:1–11; Luke 4:18–19, NIV).
  6. Sabbath Jubilee gathers us to celebrate the beauty of God and to express ourselves with grace and beauty (Psalm 27:4; Mark 14:6).
  7. Sabbath Jubilee grounds us in faithful worship of God and faithful following of our Lord Jesus Christ. (Exodus 20:8–11; Mark 2:27–28).

Featured in: January 2014