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05/29/2014 | Created by Darla Martin Tucker

With a ceremony of praise, thanksgiving and good humor, La Sierra University on May 21 celebrated the conclusion of its first comprehensive capital campaign, a nine-year run called “A Time to Build” that brought the creation of new buildings and spaces designed to enhance learning, add beauty and accommodate growth.

La Sierra University President Randal Wisbey gives his remarks during a celebration concluding the university's first capital campaign. (Photos by Natan Vigna)
President Emeritus Larry Geraty
La Sierra President Randal Wisbey cuts the ribbon to the new Humanities Hall.
English department Chair Lora Geriguis speaks during the Humanities Hall rededication, with Board of Trustees Chair Ricardo Graham and President Randal Wisbey in the background.
The ribbon-cutting ceremony crowd fills the lobby in the beautifully renovated Humanities Hall, formerly the School of Business.

University administration thanked God for His many blessings and expressed their appreciation to donors, faculty, staff and campaign leadership during an afternoon ceremony at Hamilton Terrace, an outdoor performance venue between Hole Memorial Auditorium and the university library.

“In each new learning space provided by the “Time to Build” campaign, La Sierra University is engaging students in ways that enhance their lives,” said university President Randal Wisbey in his remarks. “ And the “Time to Build” campaign sends a resounding message to our students, both current and future – La Sierra University has a strong and promising future.”

“A Time to Build” launched in 2005 and ultimately received $27.6 million in gifts and pledges from 980 donors. The funds were instrumental in the completion of the Thaine B. Price Science Complex, the Tom and Vi Zapara School of Business, the Feldkamp Student Center, the Weldon and Joan Schumacher Science Park, and “The Glory of God’s Grace” sculpture plaza, a striking sculpture and campus centerpiece by artist and former La Sierra professor Alan Collins depicting the biblical story of the prodigal son.

Wisbey recalled his tour around campus in 2007 with then president Larry Geraty and cited the campus transformation that began with the university’s land endowment and which included the completion of the Price Science Complex in 2006, the university’s first new building in 30 years. “We’re thankful to you, Dr. Geraty, for the vision of that moment,” Wisbey said.

He added that the university has already named its next capital campaign.

Geraty recalled developmental milestone anecdotes connected with the campaign including the acquisition of funding for the Schumacher Science Park donated by Weldon Schumacher. As an elementary student, Schumacher attended school in a facility formerly located at the science park. At one point, a teacher at the school told Schumacher he would not amount to anything in life. Geraty recounted approaching Schumacher about a possible donation for the park. “I suggested to him how appropriate it would be if through a gift of $5 million he could give the lie to his teacher’s evaluation, and his alma mater could create a science park at that very location. He loved the idea,” Geraty said.

“The bottom line is that since 1990, when this campus became an independent institution again, La Sierra University has prospered because board, administration, faculty, students, alumni, donors and a cooperative community have worked together in a ‘time to build,’ said Geraty.

Following the celebration of the capital campaign, attendees walked to the rededication and ribbon-cutting ceremony for Humanities Hall. The School of Business which moved into a new, 60,200-square-foot facility in September named for donors Tom and Vi Zapara formerly occupied the two-story, newly renovated space. The older building now houses two academic departments – English, and History, Politics and Society which moved respectively from South Hall and La Sierra Hall.

“As chair of the Board of Trustees, I’m honored to be a part of this moment of celebration for La Sierra University,” said board Chair Ricardo Graham prior to the ribbon cutting. “Forward-thinking universities like La Sierra understand that today’s students, who are often focused on science and technology, also need the capacity for inquiry that classes in the liberal arts can provide. The quality curriculum offered at this university meets the challenges in both areas.”

“The study of humanities remains a vitally important part of preparing graduates to lead meaningful lives, to flourish in their careers, and to be engaged citizens and thoughtful members of the Christian community,” said Wisbey before cutting a red ribbon stretched beneath an arch of yellow and blue balloons in front of the main lobby entrance. “The humanities are alive and well at La Sierra.”

Lora Geriguis, English department chair, described how the new and enlarged spaces, the kitchen, central lobbies and other areas, allow for frequent interaction between faculty and students of the two disciplines. The relocation of the Writing Center and its writing coaches from the computer center to Humanities Hall also centralizes services. “There’s been such a change in the culture of our departments,” she said. 

Added Andrew Howe, History, Politics and Society chair, “We are very honored to have a building renovated in such a way that our students and our faculty are comfortable. It’s a pleasure to be in this building,” he said.

Commented English Professor Sam McBride regarding his new teaching and research quarters, “We love it. It’s fabulous.”