President Comments on News Reports of La Sierra Accreditation
Dear Friend of La Sierra University,
Several recent news reports have addressed La Sierra University’s renewal of regional accreditation. I want to take this opportunity to share some details with you and to assure you that La Sierra University continues to enjoy a full accreditation status.
Over the past several years, La Sierra University has been involved in the renewal of accreditation process. We are accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC), as is every other major college and university in the southwestern U.S. After careful review of our educational capacity and instructional effectiveness, WASC, in 2010, granted us an eight-year continuation of accreditation. This term runs through 2018.
When WASC extended our accreditation, it scheduled a follow-up visit, which took place in April 2011. This was to make sure that the university was following WASC standards in our teaching of biology—a subject of considerable discussion recently in the Seventh-day Adventist Church. WASC-accredited universities may certainly teach the religious beliefs of the churches with whom they are affiliated, but they must also meet appropriate, commonly recognized standards of curriculum in each discipline they teach. According to WASC standards, it is the faculty of the university, as a whole, which is responsible for determining the curriculum, measuring student achievement, and upholding the school’s character and purpose. This is to be done without undue outside pressure.
In a letter sent to me on July 5, WASC praised our faculty “for adhering to disciplinary standards in designing and teaching science courses, while developing vehicles for addressing religious doctrine elsewhere in the academic program.” Further, WASC reported that the faculty has “adhered to sound academic principles and well-accepted principles of academic governance and freedom.” The letter stated that the faculty and administration have dealt with the biology situation “honorably and professionally, while under considerable outside pressure.”
We found the accrediting body’s report in this area to be encouraging. We continue to take steps to ensure that students’ religious views, regardless of the faith tradition that they represent, are respected in all our classrooms and that a rigorous science curriculum prepares them for career success while supporting their faith experience.
In the same letter, WASC indicated concern about how the university’s board of trustees is structured and how the board’s governance duties are defined in the university bylaws. In order to make sure that La Sierra takes suitable action to resolve these issues with its board, WASC scheduled another visit to campus in the spring of 2012. The university takes the situation seriously and has already begun addressing it. We expect to be in full compliance with WASC standards on university governance as soon as possible.
Please understand these key points:
- La Sierra University is and will continue to be fully accredited by WASC. We have been accredited since 1946. The current accreditation period runs through 2018. Our students are studying at, and will graduate from, a fully accredited university.
- WASC’s recent letter commended the curriculum and the faculty. Its concern was limited to board governance issues and institutional autonomy. We will resolve these as quickly as possible.
All of us at La Sierra University are committed to our students' success. A university education is one of the most important and valuable investments a family can make. We will continue to work diligently to provide an educational experience that prepares students for career success and for a life of God-given purpose