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Atlantic Union College had its beginnings as South Lancaster Academy, a secondary school begun in 1882. The school very early in its existence felt the need for work to be offered beyond the secondary level.


It became Lancaster Junior College in 1918 and Atlantic Union College in 1922. Its early degrees were B.Th. and B.R.E. degrees, but in 1933 the college was authorized to grant the B.A. degree and in 1954 the B.S. degree.


In 1990 authorization was received to grant the M.Ed. degree. 

  • 1882 On Feb 5th, organized as a preparatory school under the leadership of Stephen Nelson Haskell (1833-1922)
  • 1882 On April 19th, first day of class for "that New England school"
  • 1883 On Dec 12th, incorporated and formally named South Lancaster Academy
  • 1918 Renamed Lancaster Junior College
  • 1922 Renamed Atlantic Union College after offering a four-year theological course and being authorized degree-granting powers conferred by the Massachusetts legislature. The Academy and College became separate institutions with the Academy having its own board of trustees and faculty. Granted the Bachelor of Theology (B.Th.) and the Bachelor of Religious Education (B.R.E.) degrees.
  • 1926 In October the name of the school paper The Student Idea was changed to Lancastrian
  • 1927 On April 19th the Atlantic Union Alumni Association was formed
  • 1933 On Feb 9th the Governor of Massachusetts Joseph Ely granted AUC the right to confer the Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) degree
  • 1933 On Dec 3rd the E. E. Miles Science Memorial Building was dedicated
  • 1942 Purchased William Kilbourn's farm, along with 100 acres along George Hill Road
  • 1943 Dedication of Rachel Preston Hall for a women's dormitory
  • 1943 Purchased the 42 room Thayer Mansion, originally built in the mid 1800's by Nathaniel E. Thayer, son of Rev. Nathaniel Thayer
  • 1945 Accepted into membership with the New England Association of Schools and Colleges
  • 1952 Dedication of Haskell Hall as an administration building
  • 1954 Authorized to grant the Bachelor of Science (B.S.) degree
  • 1954 First class graduates in Machlan Auditorium, Haskell Hall
  • 1990 Authorized to grant the Master of Education (M.Ed.) degree
  • 2011 The college lost NEASC accreditation due to "failure to meet [its] Standard on Financial Resources."
  • 2013 The Massachusetts Board of Higher Education accorded conditional authority to award the degrees of Bachelor of Arts in Health Science/Biology and the Bachelor of Arts in Theology/Religion.
  • 2015 The college started offering the degrees of Bachelor of Arts in Health Science/Biology and the Bachelor of Arts in Theology/Religion.
  • 2018 The College Board of Trustees voted to suspend academic operations due to withdrawal of subsidies from several of the Atlantic Union Conferences and the results of an NAD independent study. 
  • 2015-2018 Avis D. Hendrickson
  • 2012-2014 Duane M. Cady  M.D. (interim)
  • 2007-2011 Norman L. Wendth
  • 2003-2007 George P. Babcock
  • 2003-2003 N. Clifford Sorensen
  • 1996-2003 Sylvan A. Lashley
  • 1993-1996 James J. Londis
  • 1985-1993 Lawrence T. Geraty
  • 1980-1984 Larry Lewis
  • 1975-1980 R. Dale McCune
  • 1970-1975 William G. Nelson
  • 1967-1970 Herbert E. Douglass
  • 1960-1967 Robert L. Reynolds
  • 1953-1960 Lawrence M. Stump
  • 1948-1953 Lewis N. Holm
  • 1936-1948 G. Eric Jones
  • 1928-1936 Otto Marion John
  • 1921-1928 Benjamin F. Machlan
  • 1920-1921 George R. Lehman
  • 1920-1920 Otto Marion John
  • 1917-1920 Mahlon Elsworth Olsen

Heads of the School prior to Incorporation as a College

  • 1916-1917 William G. Wirth
  • 1912-1916 Benjamin F. Machlan
  • 1909-1912 Charles S. Longacre
  • 1907-1909 Benjamin F. Machlan
  • 1899-1907 Frederick Griggs
  • 1894-1899 Joseph Haughey
  • 1888-1894 George Caviness
  • 1885-1888 Charles C. Ramsey
  • 1884-1885 Dores Robinson
  • 1882-1884 Goodloe Harper Bell
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