In July 2017, Robert A. Cushman Jr. became the new president of Pacific Union College (PUC) in Angwin, California, United States. On April 20, 2018, the college officially installed Cushman as the 23rd president in a special inaugural ceremony, succeeding Eric Anderson.
The PUC Church was filled with faculty, staff, students, community members, and family and friends, welcoming Cushman and celebrating the college’s history and future. Several music groups and ensembles provided the music at the ceremony, which included The Beatitudes, a 40-minute cantata based on Matthew 5 and composed and conducted by Asher Raboy, PUC resident artist.
Responsive readings involved associate director of higher education of the church in North America Gordon Bietz, Loma Linda University provost Ronald Carter, and county officers.
“This morning’s ritual is a statement. It’s intended to remind us that Pacific Union College has deep roots, and we’re part of a tradition that began long before 1882 and that first day of classes in Healdsburg,” said Anderson. He presented a college’s gift to Cushman, a mounted rock crafted by Lorne Glaim from the farm of Adventist pioneer William Miller. The present reminds of God’s promise to create new heavens and a new earth and recognizes Cushman’s love of geology.
“Consider this rock and the hope it represents,” Anderson told him.
In the inaugural homily, Carter stressed the challenges facing higher education and small colleges in particular. However, he urged the college administrators and Cushman to persevere, saying he believes PUC is uniquely prepared to meet these challenges.
In a presentation bequeathing the college’s historic medallion to Cushman, executive secretary of the Pacific Union Conference church region and chair of the PUC Board of Trustees Bradford Newton offered him and his wife Judy encouragement for the journey ahead. Strung together on an elaborate gold chain, the medallion features each name of PUC’s past presidents, representing the symbolic history of the college.
“The medallion serves as a reminder throughout your tenure as president you will never be alone on your journey,” Newton said. “This college community walks with you. The body of Christ, the church, will continually hold up your arms in the battles ahead. Most importantly, there is One who promises when you pass through the waters, ‘I will be with you.’”
Members of PUC’s faculty, staff, and student body congratulated Cushman, among them, student life associate vice president J. R. Rogers. “As an alum, PUC is very near and dear to my heart. As an employee, every day I look forward to working with our student leaders, student body, and Cushman,” he said. “Knowing his goal is to continue helping PUC be a vibrant and collaborative learning community assures me PUC is in great hands.”
Founded in 1882, Pacific Union College is a fully accredited liberal arts college serving more than 1,200 students. The college’s overall program offers a full lineup of bachelor’s degrees as well as several associate degrees, one master’s degree, and pre-professional and degree completion programs. PUC is the California Napa Valley’s only four-year college. The school is part of the Seventh-day Adventist Church educational system, the second largest in the world.