The campus would undergo vast changes, as shown in this year-by-year account:
- In 1965 construction on the college dormitories and the WCG's mailing
department began, and the campus produced its first seven graduates. This
was also the last year that the Feast of Tabernacles was kept in the college
field house until 1992. The field house was originally built in 1958 and
expanded in 1959 to accommodate Feastgoers, who outgrew it after 1965.
Under the big top
- In 1966 Lake Loma, named after Herbert W. Armstrong's first wife, was
doubled in size, and 12,000 Feastgoers met under a gigantic circus-type
tent for the Feast.
- In 1967 a new water plant was constructed to service the campus, Booth
City was renovated, a major landscaping project in the valley below the
Roy Hammer Library was nearing completion, a transportation building was
going up, and the home-economics department was added. Paved walkways were
constructed around campus, the field house's entrance was redesigned, and
a new waterfront facility was added at Lake Loma.
In 1968, 59 Ambassador College seniors received diplomas. Work was completed
on a 96,000-square-foot metal building to be used as a convention center
to accommodate up to 16,000 Feastgoers and an accompanying Feast administration
building. During this time Spanish editions of The Plain Truth and Tomorrow's
World magazines were printed in Big Sandy.
- By 1970 the festival office, which in those days handled transfers
and housing for the Feast of Tabernacles, moved to the Big Sandy campus.
News of Worldwide
- In April 1973 the WCG's internationally circulated newspaper, The Worldwide
News, began in Big Sandy, using many students as employees. It stayed in
Big Sandy four years until it was moved to Pasadena after the closing of
the Texas campus.
- In 1974 the U.S. government granted Ambassador College in Big Sandy
the right to accept foreign students. The move came in conjunction with
the WCG's decision to close Ambassador College in England.
- In 1976, as the college decided to try for accreditation from the Southern
Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS), the field house was remodeled.
(This early effort at accreditation came to an untimely end in 1977 when
Mr. Armstrong closed the campus.)
- In 1977, after 111 students received degrees, the Big Sandy campus
of Ambassador College closed. At the time of its closure, the college had
expanded to include farm and stables, a golf course, a remodeled physical-education
area complete with coated-surface track, tennis courts and racquetball
courts, a science-lecture hall, the conversion of the former Imperial School
complex into a humanities complex, an airstrip and a faculty housing area
known as Faculty Row.
Although the college in Texas closed as part of the "consolidation"
with the original campus in Pasadena, the church continued to use the Texas
facilities as a base for local and regional church activities, including
ministerial and youth conferences. Sports tournaments were also centered
in Big Sandy, which served as the site for the 1978 national basketball
finals for teenage church teams.
College for sale
- The property was put up for sale in the late 1970s.
- In 1981 the Big Sandy campus reopened as a two-year, or junior, college.
Leon Walker was named deputy chancellor, Donald Ward served as academic
dean, and Ronald Kelly was dean of students.
- In 1984, to augment the system in Pasadena, Wide Area Telephone Service
(WATS) lines were installed on the campus to help process literature requests
from WCG advertising.
- In 1985 Mr. Armstrong announced plans to close the Big Sandy campus
again and sell the property.
- After Mr. Armstrong died in January 1986, the new WCG pastor general,
Joseph W. Tkach Sr., rescinded that decision and kept the campus open.
- In 1987 Mr. Tkach appointed Dr. Ward vice chancellor, over both Ambassador
- On Dec. 14, 1989, just a week after ground was broken on Ambassador
College's Big Sandy campus for a new three-story administration building,
Mr. Tkach, who was also the college chancellor and chairman of its board
of regents, made the startling announcement at a student assembly in the
Ambassador Auditorium in Pasadena that the Pasadena and Big Sandy campuses
would combine into a single liberal-arts institution in Big Sandy.
New women's dormitories were constructed, as were a fine-arts hall and
Jackson Hall, which contains faculty offices and classrooms.
- Ambassador received candidacy status for accreditation from SACS in
1992 and gained accreditation in 1994. In June of that year, simultaneous
with accreditation, Mr. Tkach changed the name to Ambassador University.
In 1995, as doctrinal changes swept the WCG, the church's income declined,
resulting in a cut in its subsidy of AU. (See related article in this issue.)
Student enrollment, which had hovered at the 1,100-1,200 mark for several
years, declined to about 650 with the 1996-97 school year.
The campus, in addition to employee terminations and budget cuts, gave away
most of the booths. A university spokesman said that the booths went to
anyone who would move them off the grounds.
The university also leased out its golf course to a private club.