Dear Friends and Partners of WCIU,
A few days ago I wrote in this blog that I would be getting you more information about the sale of WCIU’s campus and some houses to Education First (EF, www.ef.edu).
I am grateful for the many, many words of encouragement and support from long-time partners of both WCIU and Frontier Ventures (the former U.S. Center for World Mission), early givers to the original purchase of the campus, and more recent friends of the ministry. But I am also aware that this process has raised questions and concerns for our own community and for others who know and love this organization as well.
Included here are answers to many of the questions that I have heard thus far, or anticipate may be in the minds of our friends and partners.
As to how the sale serves our purposes, I will focus on two aspects, financial and strategic:
Financially, the sale continues to serve our purposes in two ways: First, by eliminating the projected necessity of several million dollars of investment in upgrades and improvements on our property had we kept the campus. And second, by diversifying our financial model, enabling us to blend income from rental property we will retain, and income from the investment of funds from the sale. The property, with a portion divested and re-invested in this way, continues to serve the purposes for which it was purchased.
Strategically, the pending sale positions WCIU for a new chapter in achieving our purposes as well. First, as a distance university, we still do need a strong and solid core for our academic leadership and administrative and operations teams. This particular sale serves our aim to retain that solid core adjacent to the near-15-acre site in Pasadena, Calif., as Hudson Taylor Hall will be also be retained by FV.
However, since a distance-based university does not need a full campus of the size we possess, the sale also helps us achieve our aim to establish multiple sites globally that locate our unique approach to international development much closer to the people and agencies we serve, as they work at the roots of human problems.
Perhaps the most difficult question arises from the fact that after so much deliberation, the purchaser is not a faith-based organization.
The Board had as many as 11 faith-based organizations that either made offers or discussed offers. Each offer was taken very seriously, and discussed thoroughly, but in the end none of the faith-based offers came to fruition. The only offer we seriously considered from a non-faith-based group was the one from EF.
As I mentioned, the FAQ’s will address more detailed aspects of the decision and what might be next. I continue to welcome and depend upon your prayers in this time of change and transition.
WCIU Property Sale FAQs
1. Why is WCIU selling this portion of the property?
The Board determined that our best financial stewardship included selling a portion of the property. This alleviates the short-term, high costs, of needed upgrades, enabling us instead to use funds for the mission and vision of WCIU globally. It also enables us to diversify our income stream to include investment of the sales proceeds, as well as the ongoing income from the housing we are retaining.
2. Why are you selling it to EF Education First?
EF presented a reasonable offer for a portion of the property that still left us a significant footprint. EF’s educational mission and projected usage fits a campus. EF’s intention of maintaining the campus’ most historic buildings intact was another major factor.
3. What are the terms of the purchase sale agreement?
The agreement includes the nearly 15-acre campus itself and 16 plots, with just over 20 housing units.
4. When will EF close on the property?
The anticipated final closing will be late July 2019.
5. What kinds of approvals are needed for the deal to go through?
Standard approvals from the City planners will be needed for renovations of buildings and upgrades on the property.
6. When will EF Academy open?
For start of the school year in August/September 2020.
7. What happens to the tenants currently leasing buildings on the campus?
Given there are 16 months until closing, everyone has ample time to find suitable relocation options.
8. What happens to the other houses that were not sold to EF?
They remain in the ownership of WCIU. It remains possible that some portion of the remaining houses may be considered for a further sale, if a suitable offer is presented.
9. What will happen to people currently employed by WCIU?
Those affected in terms of employment will be helped in various ways to find new jobs.
10. What will happen to self-supporting, FV staff?
Those living in the housing units being sold, or in rooms on campus, will be assisted in finding new homes/rooms in the property WCIU is retaining.
11. Will WCIU/FV retain a presence on or near campus?
Yes. FV is retaining Hudson Taylor Hall, and WCIU will either relocate there as well, or find a suitable academics/administrative center nearby (including plans for the library and archives).
12. What will WCIU/FV do with the proceeds from the sale?
Once we have completed the sale, use funds to assist with the transition of administration and also staff and personnel, and for other expenses necessitated by this shift. The funds will be invested according to a Board-approved set of policies and procedures. This plan will include a careful assessment of risk, clear ethical guidelines for investments we do not want to be associated with, and clear goals for income. The income from this endowment, combined with income from the properties we retain, will continue to be used to further the founding purposes of both WCIU and FV.
13. What is WCIU’s vision for the future?
WCIU will continue its vision of distance-based, innovative, education for men and women from many nations, enabling them to work effectively at the roots of human problems. Our strategic focus and use of resources of people and finances will be able to more efficiently shift to initiatives such as: enhancing the effectiveness of a growing international network of associated schools through mentoring and our unique curriculum, along with planting new associated universities; adding to and revitalizing the vision of institutes focused on crucial areas, such as the Asian mission movement, Global Health Leadership, South Asia Studies, etc.; and also adding areas of focus to our MA degree in those areas and others (global women’s studies, translation and communication, etc.).
14. What is FV’s vision for the future?
The U.S. Center for World Mission first, and now Frontier Ventures, has always existed as a community dedicated to finding and overcoming barriers that lead to movements to take the Gospel of Jesus Christ to every people group of the world. That commitment will continue through intentional and vigorous collaboration with WCIU, other organizations and pioneering leaders. Frontier Ventures must continue its voice in defining the definition of what is an Unreached People, and continue to refocus the missions world and the international Church on both the Unreached and movements to Christ. The commitment to Jesus movements in every people requires Frontier Ventures to clearly and thoroughly communicate, in all possible formats, why and how this must be done. It requires us to nurture and equip the next generation with this same vision in the United States and around the world.