The Adventist International Institute of Advanced Studies (AIIAS) is celebrating its 50th anniversary with the release of a new book that chronicles the institution's rich history from its beginnings to the present. The 317-page book, titled AIIAS: The First 50 Years, was launched on May 2, 2023, during the Southern-Asia Pacific Division (SSD) Midyear Meetings.
According to Dr. Ginger Ketting-Weller, AIIAS president, the institution was established in 1972 to bring world-class Seventh-day Adventist graduate education to Asia.
"The leaders of the Far Eastern Division noticed that there are too many 'upgradees' when sent to the Western world for their graduate degrees and did not return to serve in their home fields. So in 1972, they voted to establish a division-sponsored seminary and staffed it with top scholars. Later, they added the graduate school programs, and the combination that became known as AIIAS has never stopped fulfilling that vision of developing leaders,” Dr. Ketting-Weller said.
The book, authored by former AIIAS faculty member Dr. Shawna Vyhmeister, covers the institution's chronological history and God's providence in its establishment and growth. The book is organized into two sections, with the first detailing the chronological history of AIIAS and the second recounting the people, departments, social and cultural events, miracles, and mission stories that comprise its rich heritage. Dr. Vyhmeister dedicated over a year to researching and writing the book, with the help of her husband, Dr. Ronald Vyhmeister, and mother-in-law, Dr. Nancy Vyhmeister, who provided documentary records and anecdotes for the project.
Dr. Shawna Vyhmeister shared her joy in writing the history of AIIAS, stating, "Contacting retired faculty and alumni gave me opportunities to hear stories of God’s leading in their lives, and in the life of this institution, and to observe firsthand the difference AIIAS has made in so many corners of the world. My faith was strengthened as I learned over and over how God has guided and blessed His people and this institution." Dr. Ketting-Weller expressed her appreciation for Dr. Vyhmeister's dedication to the project and noted that the book is a testament to God's care for AIIAS and its mission.
The AIIAS Public Relations team was also honored for their contributions to the book’s production and timely completion.
Graduates of AIIAS have gone on to serve in positions of leadership in the church and academia worldwide. As the first graduates begin to retire, the need for well-prepared leadership continues, and AIIAS is developing the next generation of leaders who have a unique cross-cultural worldview.
“We exist to serve the Seventh-day Adventist Church, and we're grateful to pursue our mission hand in hand, not only with our home regions in Asia, but as a service to the world church,” Dr. Ketting-Weller added.
Dr. Vyhmeister emphasized that the real success of AIIAS can only be attributed to God and His leadership. "From the beginning, the division had a broad vision of what graduate education could do for its leaders, and over time, that vision has expanded to include church leadership outside the Asia-Pacific region," she said.
AIIAS, a graduate-level General Conference institution, is dedicated to preparing students for leadership roles in education, business, public health, and theology. It is based in the Philippines yet serves Asia and the global church. The book AIIAS: The First 50 Years commemorates the institution's history and serves as a strong context for vision-building for the future.