Alums honored for impact on university, church and world
May 3, 2012
By Darla Martin Tucker
RIVERSIDE, Calif. – (www.lasierra.edu) When Dr. Fritz Guy first arrived at La Sierra University’s campus in 1948 from Cedar Lake Academy in Michigan, he saw an expanse of dry, brown earth and felt the hot air. Little did he know it was the beginning of a new life, including a new career path in theology that would enrich and touch the lives of countless students and others.
“I …registered as a physics major because that was the most interesting subject I had taken at Cedar Lake Academy. By the end of my sophomore year, however, I realized that I was really more interested in religion, so I changed my major,” Guy said.
Guy, an evangelist, pastor, religion professor at La Sierra and Andrews universities, and La Sierra’s first president in 1990, was honored as La Sierra’s Alumnus of the Year on April 20. The recognition took place during a fellowship banquet and awards ceremony that included recognitions of eight other La Sierra alums. The event kicked off Alumni Weekend, three days of programs, presentations, celebrations and festivities commemorating La Sierra’s alumni and its 90th year as a school campus.
Guy earned a Bachelor of Arts in theology in 1952 from La Sierra and a Master of Arts in 1955 from the Seventh-day Adventist Theological Seminary, then in Washington D.C. He joined La Sierra’s faculty in 1961 and earned a Ph.D. in Christian theology from the University of Chicago in 1971. For five years he lead La Sierra’s College of Arts and Sciences, and in 1977 took a position as theology professor at Andrews University. While there, he served as secretary of the committee that drafted a new Statement of Fundamental Beliefs for the Seventh-day Adventist Church which was subsequently adopted during the 1980 General Conference session in Dallas, Texas.
Guy returned to California in 1984 to serve in a pastoral position at the Loma Linda University Church, returning to the La Sierra campus as its president after it became an independent institution in 1990. He re-joined the La Sierra religion faculty full time in 1993 as a professor of theology and philosophy, transitioning in 2002 to research professor of philosophical theology.
While a student at La Sierra, Guy met his future wife, Marcia Specht. They married in 1954 and had three children. Marcia Specht Guy died in 2006 and the Marcia Specht Guy Memorial Prize, awarding winners of La Sierra’s annual concerto competition, is named in her honor.
“Fritz taught hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of seminary students at Andrews including me,” said La Sierra University President Randal Wisbey in introducing Guy. “And as a result of those many classes and lectures, his impact on the ministry of the Adventist church is still being felt today. I want to thank you for what you’ve given to each and every one of us.” He cited Guy’s contributions to Seventh-day Adventism and commended his character. “He is a genuinely caring, gracious, Christian human being. Dr. Guy is to this day deeply loved by La Sierra’s students,” said Wisbey to cheers from the audience, which included many students.
Richard Patchett, president of the Class of 2012 said, “he challenges us to be brave, to seek truth and not be afraid to ask difficult questions. [He has] guided us and given us wisdom when we had no idea what to do. He has shown us God’s limitless love and grace.”
Guy told the audience he learned from his La Sierra Professor Edward Heppenstall that “La Sierra is a place that is safe to think, a place that is safe to question answers. …I was unspeakably blessed by my time here [as a student]. Those four years changed my life, because they gave me the idea of how exciting it can be to think theologically. I am proud to be part of La Sierra and I plan to stay here as long as I can possibly be useful to this place,” he said.
Alumni receiving awards April 20 included the following:
- College of Arts and Sciences Honored Alumna Marilene Wang (’82), professor of surgery, chief of otolaryngology, Veterans Administration Greater Los Angeles Health System, and director, Nasal and Sinus Disease Center, University of California, Los Angeles;
- School of Business Honored Alumnus David Geriguis (’83), La Sierra University vice president for financial administration;
- School of Education Honored Alumnus Mark Haynal (’97, ’02), president, Canadian Union College, Lacombe, Alberta, Canada;
- H.M.S. Richards Divinity School Honored Alumnus Ralph Pueschel (’52), church pastor, singing evangelist in Iowa, Nevada-Utah, Hawaii and Southeastern California conferences.
Rising Star Awards
- College of Arts and Sciences Rising Star Jan Eckermann (’00), neurosurgeon, Kern Medical Center, Bakersfield;
- School of Business Rising Star Brian Meert (’03), co-founder, Handbago.com, an online handbag marketplace;
- School of Education Rising Star Paige Sautner (’07), school psychologist, Lake Elsinore Unified School District;
- H.M.S. Richards Divinity School Rising Star Eva Pascal (’01), doctoral student, Boston University.
“I am truly honored and humbled to receive this,” said Geriguis upon receiving his Honored Alumnus award. He added that he enjoys being a part of the university’s master planning process. “Making sure the university is fiscally sound and healthy is a really good thing to be a part of. I’m pleased to work with top-notch faculty at La Sierra who are not afraid to combine scholarship with Christian values,” he said.
Geriguis earned a Bachelor of Science in management from La Sierra in 1983 followed by a Master of Business Administration from California State University, San Bernardino. His career included positions as controller for Loma Linda Foods in Riverside and chief financial officer for the company after its acquisition by Nutricia USA. In 1993 he became La Sierra’s assistant vice president for finance and its controller. Between 2000 and 2001 he served as associate foundation manager at Loma Linda University before returning to La Sierra to fill his current position. Geriguis has played key roles in the development of the campus master plan and administered the university’s successful land development project which has led to significant increases in the university quasi-endowment.
Meeting School of Business Dean John Thomas was “one of those pivotal moments in my life,” said business school Rising Star award recipient Brian Meert. He graduated from La Sierra in 2003 with a Master of Business Administration, but arrived at the school without much of a business background. Thomas invited Meert to sit in on Thomas’s entrepreneurship class. “John Thomas was talking to the students about how America is the land of opportunity,” and how some students will walk away from such an opportunity to play video games and waste time. “At that moment I realized I had been given a gift to live in America, …and to come to La Sierra,” Meert said. Thomas served as a mentor for Meert and while a student Meert started his first online business, pocketgoals.com. He later co-founded Handbago.com, a site that receives more than 500,000 unique visitors each year.
During his award acceptance talk Meert thanked the university’s donors who helped build the business program. “It gave me such great strengths and perspectives on life. I’m very humbled and honored,” he said.
Other awardees also expressed gratitude for life-changing experiences and lessons learned while attending their alma mater.
Wang, recipient of the College of Arts and Sciences Rising Star award said, “I received an outstanding education here. It really prepared me well to go out in the world, to be a witness, to share the good news with others.”
“I came to La Sierra expecting a good education,” School of Education Rising Star recipient Sautner said. “What I actually obtained was so much more.” The values she derived included encouragement from her professors to find the good in others. “I left La Sierra not only with a good education but as a better person and I am indebted to the school for that,” she said.
Click the following link to view a slide show of the alumni weekend banquet and Friday Fellowship Dinner and Vespers, Including Alumnus of the Year: on.fb.me/JBcXIs.
PR Contact: Larry Becker
Executive Director of University Relations
La Sierra University