La Sierra University constituency delegates elect new board members, make bylaws change

May 21, 2010

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La Sierra University’s constituency met to elect members of the Board Trustees, approve changes to university bylaws, and review the university’s financial status. The 76 session delegates convened on campus May 12.

Four individuals were elected to six-year terms on the university’s Board of Trustees: 

  • Meredith Jobe, an attorney in Glendale, California and a La Sierra alumnus;
  • Alvin Kwiram, emeritus professor of chemistry at the University of Washington;
  • Alina Sanchez, co-founder of Spire, a marketing consulting firm, and a La Sierra alumna; and
  • James Kyle, MD, vice president of medical affairs at St. Mary Medical Center, interim pastor of the Tamarind Avenue Seventh-day Adventist church, and a La Sierra alumnus  

Delegates also reappointed Henry Coil Jr., a Riverside businessman, to a second six-year term.

Four board members concluded their service to the La Sierra at this session: Ron Zane, Sheila Marshall-McClean, Lowell Hanks, and Doug Nies. Delegates offered expressions of thanks for their efforts during their terms.

La Sierra University’s Board of Trustees consists of 23 members, of which 14 are elected to rotating six-year terms. Constituents meet every two years to vote on bylaws, trustee nominations, and other matters. The Pacific Union Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, headquartered in Westlake Village, Ca., owns La Sierra University.

Delegates heard a report, “Why La Sierra University Matters,” from President Randal Wisbey.  “Our commitment to provide an exceptional Adventist university education happens each and every day at La Sierra University. In our classrooms and laboratories, our dedicated professors give their lives to fulfill their God-given mission of serving this church in higher education. And they do so by providing outstanding teaching in an environment that values academic integrity and deep spiritual commitment.

“Here at La Sierra, students and faculty take advantage of many opportunities to think deeply within a context of faith in God,” Wisbey continued. “One professor recently said to me, ‘La Sierra matters because it’s a place where we celebrate certainty and curiosity, find joy in the dynamic interplay between faith and learning, and are open to conversation and challenge.’ ”

Following Wisbey’s report, faculty and students from the departments of biology, psychology, religion, and education shared their experiences of intellectual and faith development.

Jared Wright, a graduate student in religion, noted, “My teachers taught me to pray every day ‘Thy Kingdom come and Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven’ and to mean that when I say it. I’m not sure I will be a good pastor. I haven’t done this before. But this faculty at La Sierra University has given me the best tools and equipped me in the best way possible so that I go knowing that I couldn’t have a better preparation.” Wright graduates in June 2010, and has been hired to join the pastoral staff in the Southeastern California Conference.

Members of the Chamber Singers presented three musical selections and gave their own personal testimony about faith and life at the university.  Chris Oberg, senior pastor of the La Sierra University Church, discussed ways in which the church is reaching out to students and attempting to make them feel like a part of the church family.  

“When we say the next generation matters, what we hope will happen and we hope we will keep doing better is that we will meet the needs of the students right now,” Oberg said. “We will invite students to meet the needs of others right now. And while doing so, we are fostering leaders for our church.”

Auditor Sheila Aultman of Ahern, Adcock & Devlin, LLP, presented the audited financial statement, which was accepted by the delegates. Aultman revealed La Sierra received an unqualified report, the best possible outcome from an audit process. David Geriguis, vice president for finance, shared additional information about the financial health of the university. Despite the fiscal turmoil being experienced both nationwide and in a particularly strong way in California’s Inland Empire region, Gerigus reported the university’s current financial situation positions the organization to weather this economic downturn period. Delegates also approved a bylaws change allowing for additional methods of electronic voting by trustees when business must be completed between regular board meetings.

At the conclusion of the reports and required business, the delegates spent approximately 90 minutes addressing the issue currently facing the university about the way in which theories of origins are addressed in the curriculum.  A number of delegates voiced their opinions on various sides of the issue.  While many expressed support and appreciation for the university’s commitment to provide a comprehensive science education to its students, some delegates voiced concerns about how the church’s understanding of Biblical creation is included in the biology curriculum.

After a thorough airing of the debate, Ricardo Graham, the chair of the Board of Trustees and chair of the meeting, brought the discussion and meeting to a close.

“La Sierra University has been recognized by the Carnegie Foundation for community engagement—one of only 116 institutions of higher education in the nation to be so identified,” Wisbey reported. “While this is an honor and a benefit, let us also be clear. It is never the reason we do this work. La Sierra matters because our commitment to service makes certain that our students are prepared for a life of service, a life that will go on into eternity as they bring meaning and fulfillment to others. They learn here the joy of being the hands and feet of Christ in our world.

“La Sierra University matters because we provide a place for students to develop a life-long love of learning within a deep and abiding faith that will nurture them for the rest of their lives,” Wisbey concluded.


PR Contact: Larry Becker
Executive Director of University Relations
La Sierra University
Riverside, California
951.785.2460 (voice)


  • Last update on  May 21, 2010