La Sierra University Board of Trustees Affirms University’s Support for Church’s Creation Doctrine
The La Sierra University Board of Trustees has reaffirmed the school’s foundational commitments as a Seventh-day Adventist institution of higher education with particular focus on the Church’s official doctrine of creation.
The board’s first action supported the university’s responsibilities to the Church through:
- Committing to a spirit of open inquiry and discussion in the university’s classrooms and laboratories.
- Inspiring, challenging, and supporting the university’s faculty in their sacred academic work.
- Affirming that both academic responsibility and commitment to Adventist beliefs are important parts of a vibrant university, as articulated in Ellen White’s statement “It is the work of true education to…train the youth to be thinkers and not mere reflectors of other men’s thought.” (Education, p. 17).
In a second action, the board called for scientists and administrators in Adventist higher education to work together with Church leadership in a study group. This group would propose a college curriculum fulfilling the General Conference Executive Committee’s call for a scientifically rigorous affirmation of a literal, recent six-day creation. The study group would obtain assistance from the Geoscience Research Institute in forming model course outlines in life and earth sciences. These could inform curricular revision throughout Adventist higher education.
Additionally, the board requested that a research project be launched to study the spiritual development of Adventist students in higher education throughout the North American Division, with special attention to students in the sciences. It recommended that La Sierra University’s John Hancock Center for Youth and Family Ministry, home of the ValueGenesis research project, coordinate the program in cooperation with the North American Division Office of Education.
The actions voted at the board meetings of November 11-12, grew out of several days of board discussions on the issue.
“These board actions are an important, positive moment for La Sierra University,” said Randal Wisbey, university president. “Our board members and faculty take seriously their obligation to teach our students in a manner that develops a mature, enduring faith while thoroughly preparing them for careers in the sciences.
“At the same time, our board members recognize this important conversation requires thoughtful input from the entire spectrum of Adventist higher education,” President Wisbey said.
The board identified the university’s new general biology seminar, launched during fall quarter 2009, as an important initial addition to the La Sierra biology curriculum. Required of all students as they begin the university’s General Biology sequence, the seminar brings students together with scholars from biology, religious studies, and the Geoscience Research Institute. It provides time to explore the role and function of science, the importance of faith, and the relevant doctrinal positions of Seventh-day Adventists.
“The La Sierra Biology faculty have faith that God is their Creator and Sustainer,” said James Wilson, Ph.D., department chair. “Each faculty member understands the important responsibility to facilitate broad education in biology in ways that embrace the Adventist perspective of God as the Creator of all things.”
“Moving forward, the board, administration, and faculty are committed to serving our students as they study the important issues of faith and science,” said Ricardo Graham, chair of the La Sierra University Board of Trustees. “As board members, we are appreciative of the wide range of comments on the issue shared by thoughtful church members, and for the many prayers offered during our discussions.”
The complete text of the board’s two actions can be found on the university’s website at www.lasierra.edu/board.
PR Contact: Larry Becker
Executive Director of University Relations
La Sierra University