January 12, 2011
By Darla Martin Tucker
Dr. Anita Oliver arrived the Radisson Hotel in Ontario, Calif. for an awards ceremony and education conference, uncertain what to expect.
A letter had informed the long-time educator simply to be sure and show up. She left the festivities that November day as the 2010 recipient of the Award of Excellence from the education department of the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, one of the highest education awards the denomination grants. Dr. Dennis Plubell, associate director for the Office of Education, North American Division of Seventh-day Adventists, presented Oliver with a medal, framed in a display case, and a certificate.
“I was very surprised,” said Oliver, who retired Sept. 1 from a 20-year career in La Sierra’s School of Education. “It is an honor to be recognized by the educators in the division, the union and the university,” she said. “I have enjoyed working with all of them for the past 20 years. Working with and for them seemed like the best honor I could have received, but I thank them for this additional honor.”
Dr. Kelly Bock, director of education for the Pacific Union Conference of Seventh-day Adventists assisted in the presentation while Dr. Clinton Valley, dean of La Sierra’s School of Education and Dr. Linda Caviness, chair of the school’s Department of Curriculum and Instruction, provided the audience of 140 educators a biographical sketch of Oliver and her career contributions. The ceremony took place during the Pacific Union’s biannual education council.
Bock and Valley nominated Oliver for the high-level award citing her 29 years of excellent service in the Dakota, Wisconsin and Pacific Union conferences. At La Sierra she “shaped the teacher education program through her leadership and development of teacher credentialing programs and curriculum development projects and initiatives,” Bock wrote in the award nomination letter, while Valley described Oliver as “well-respected as a philosopher, a professor and a Christian leader.”
“Anita Oliver has been a committed and visionary Seventh-day Adventist educator over the decades of her service to the church,” Valley said. “For the past 20 years, La Sierra University’s School of Education has benefitted immensely from her scholarship, leadership and service. She has made an indelible impression on the work of teacher education in this union and across the North American Division. She continues to assist the School of Education as a document writer for the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing.”
Oliver spent 16 of her 20-year tenure at La Sierra chairing the Department of Curriculum and Instruction. During that time she served on numerous committees for the university, school districts, local and union conferences and for the NAD, and maintained La Sierra’s exemplary standing with the State of California through her close interaction with the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing.
The years produced lasting friendships with School of Education colleagues for whom Oliver holds deep appreciation, she said. As an educator she values the opportunity to impact the lives of students and teachers in the k-20 Adventist system. “Being a teacher at any level, in any subject is a tremendous responsibility because students believe what we say and are influenced by how we behave,” she stated.
Eligibility for the Award of Excellence includes at least 20 years of service in the Adventist education system in at least two union conferences or institutions, “with a notable positive impact that is recognized as being broad and enduring in its effect on denominational education,” Plubell said. “As well, the candidate must be a model of professional excellence with a dynamic Christian faith.” The North American Division and the General Conference approve the award.
For Oliver, the merging of her faith into daily teaching and leadership roles ranged from personal expression to planned and focused activities. She prayed before class, discussed with students their concerns about their faith, taught a class titled Integration of Faith and Learning, provided faith-strengthening readings for courses and built courses and professional practices aimed at demonstrating what it means to be an Adventist educator. “Being an Adventist institution is meaningless unless a faculty member can honor God at the same time and I endeavored to do that,” says Oliver.
PR Contact: Larry Becker
Executive Director of University Relations
La Sierra University