La Sierra University

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La Sierra University
Seal of La Sierra University
Former names
La Sierra Academy
La Sierra Academy and Normal School
Southern California Junior College
La Sierra College
Loma Linda University La Sierra Campus
Motto To Seek, To Know, To Serve
Type Private
Established 1922 (1922)
Affiliation Seventh-day Adventist Church
Endowment $35 million[1]
President Randal Wisbey
Provost Steve Pawluk
Students 2,440[2]
Undergraduates 2,105[2]
Location , ,
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Campus Suburban, 150 acres (61 ha)
Colors Gold      and Blue     
Nickname Golden Eagles
Affiliations NAICU[3]
Mascot Golden Eagle
La Sierra University Logo.png

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Lua error in package.lua at line 80: module 'strict' not found. La Sierra University (La Sierra[4] or LSU[5][6][7][8][9]) is a Seventh-day Adventist non-profit[10] co-educational university located in Riverside, California, United States. La Sierra offers undergraduate, graduate and doctoral level degrees and is accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) and the Adventist Accrediting Association (AAA).[11]

Founded in 1922[12] as La Sierra Academy, it later became La Sierra College, a liberal arts college, and then was merged into Loma Linda University in 1967. In 1990, La Sierra separated from Loma Linda University to become an independent institution.

Since becoming independent in 1990, LSU has won multiple national and world titles in the Enactus (formerly Students in Free Enterprise) competition. [13]In the late 2000s and early 2010s, controversy arose involving the teaching of evolution in La Sierra's science curriculum.[14] La Sierra has also been the subject of controversy due to its students' low CPA exam pass rates and high levels of student debt after graduation.[15]


La Sierra was founded in 1922 when the Southeastern California Conference, one of the regional governing bodies of the Adventist church, obtained 300 acres (120 ha) of land[16] in an unincorporated area of Riverside County from Willits J. Hole.[17] The land was once a part of a large Mexican land grant named Rancho La Sierra, giving La Sierra its current name.[17]

Since its founding in 1922 as La Sierra Academy, La Sierra has morphed through a number of stages. In 1927, the school became known as La Sierra Academy and Normal School when it expanded into offering courses for future teachers. Later that year, after course offerings were expanded, it became known as the Southern California Junior College.[18] In 1939, the school was renamed La Sierra College. In 1940, the high school section split to form La Sierra College Preparatory School. The preparatory school is now named La Sierra Academy and is still located near the university. It was first accredited as a four-year liberal arts college in 1946.[18] In 1964 the city of Riverside annexed much of La Sierra lands and nearby Arlington, placing the college within Riverside's city limits.[17][19]

In 1967, the college merged with Loma Linda University, becoming Loma Linda University's College of Arts and Sciences.[18][20] During this time, La Sierra's School of Education, School of Business and Management, and its Division of Continuing Studies were founded.[18]

In 1990, the two campuses were reorganized into separate institutions, and the La Sierra campus became La Sierra University.[18] La Sierra remains a major feeder school for Loma Linda University,[1] particularly for Loma Linda's medical programs.[4] After the separation of the two campuses into independent institutions, Fritz Guy became La Sierra's president.[21] He was followed by Lawrence T. Geraty in 1993.[22]

In 1999, over 20 percent of the student body signed a petition criticizing the university's core curriculum due to its alleged lack of focus on the Bible, politically liberal leanings, and "subversive attacks on Christianity and monotheism".[23]

La Sierra sold approximately 200 acres of its land to a developer in 2000, in what the university described as "the most significant physical change to La Sierra in the institution's 78-year history."[24] The land, which the school formerly used for agriculture and a dairy, became a planned development known as "Riverwalk".[19][25]

In 2007, Randal Wisbey, previously president of Columbia Union College, became president of La Sierra University.

Biology curriculum controversy

Lua error in package.lua at line 80: module 'strict' not found. In the late 2000s, the university's science curriculum became a subject of controversy as the school was accused of teaching evolution in its biology classes, contrary to the teachings of the Adventist church.[26] Concerned about the allegation, a campaign collected over 6,300 signatures to an online petition which called for Adventist universities to teach the Genesis creation narrative.[27]

The university's Board of Trustees unanimously affirmed those beliefs but some[who?] viewed that as inadequate.[27] In 2010, the regional accreditation agency responsible for La Sierra, the Western Association of Schools and Colleges, gave the university an eight-year accreditation extension despite concerns over academic freedom and institutional autonomy.[28] La Sierra was accused of apostasy by the executive committee of the Michigan Conference, one of the church's regional governing bodies.[29] In 2011, the denominational accreditation agency, the Adventist Accrediting Association, gave La Sierra an accreditation extension ending in 2012, but required it to make changes to better promote Adventist teachings.[26]

In October 2011, the Board of Trustees voted in favor of a proposal stating "that creation be taught in university classrooms as faith, rather than science, and that students be told that it could not be proven with scientific methods." Prior to the vote, three out of four trustees in favor were dismissed from the board, including a former United States ambassador. All three were women.[30][31] In February 2012,[32] one of the five faculty signers of the proposal was dismissed from the university.[30] In May 2012, the American Association of University Professors sent a letter informing the university of its concerns regarding the professor's dismissal in relation to the issues of academic freedom and tenure.[32][33][34][35]


La Sierra's 150-acre campus[4] is located in the La Sierra neighborhood[19] of the city of Riverside. The school is a member of the American Public Gardens Association, which has designated the campus an arboretum.[36][37]

The first buildings built on the campus were two-story separate male and female dormitories.[16]

The university opened a $23 million science complex in the fall of 2006 which houses its mathematics, computer science and biology programs,[22] and is in the process of building a new structure for its School of Business, with a scheduled opening date of fall of 2012.[citation needed][needs update]

La Sierra also runs an Extended Campus Program on the campus of Canadian University College in Lacombe, Alberta, Canada, which offers a Master of Arts degree in Education.[citation needed]


Frances E. Barnard Memorial Observatory
Location Riverside, California, United States
Coordinates Lua error in package.lua at line 80: module 'strict' not found.
Established February 28, 1971
Main 16-inch Cassegrain reflector
Secondary 12-inch reflector

The Frances E. Barnard Memorial Observatory is located behind the main La Sierra campus at the base of Mount Tubit. [38]The observatory was named for Frances Evelyn Barnard, mother of Marion Cecil Barnard, who donated the money necessary to build the observatory and purchase two telescopes (one of which is currently mounted to the concrete pier inside the building).[39]


La Sierra University is composed of the College of Arts and Sciences,[40] Tom & Vi Zapara School of Business,[41] H.M.S. Richards Divinity School,[42] and School of Education.[43] The school uses the quarter system.[44]

CPA exam pass rate

In 2011, La Sierra had the worst first-time pass rate on the certified public accountant exam in the state, coming in at 5.3%. Overall, the school had a pass rate of 18%, making it the state's third worst (out of 298) in preparing students for the exam.[45]


Lee Grismer, a biology professor at La Sierra, has been noted for discovering multiple species of geckos in Southeast Asia.[46][47]

Student life

Student debt

La Sierra University ranks first in California in the average amount of debt held by graduates. According to a report in the San Francisco Chronicle, average indebtedness for the 68 percent of students at La Sierra who borrowed was $42,934.[48] An earlier report by US News and World Report stated that "In 2011, La Sierra University's graduating class had the highest average debt of any school in the country. That year, students with loans left the Riverside, Calif., institution owing an average of $54,885." The university disputed this report, citing a "reporting error", and stated that, according to US News' formula, La Sierra's debt average for 2011 should have been $42,934. LSU also stated that the average debt for all students graduating in 2011 was $29,363.[49]

In 2014, a study from the Institute for College Access & Success reported that the average debt for all La Sierra students graduating in 2013 was $25,171.[50]


La Sierra is a leading school in the Enactus (formerly Students in Free Enterprise, or SIFE) program. Since the inauguration of the SIFE World Cup (now Enactus World Cup) in 2001,[51] the school has represented the United States twice, in 2002 and 2007, and won both times.[52][53][54] In the United States competition, La Sierra has won the national championship seven times, from 1994 to 1997 and again in 2002, 2007, and 2016,[55][56][57] has been first runner up three times, in 2000,[58] 2001,[59] and 2008,[60] and has been second runner up once, in 2009.[61]


The La Sierra Golden Eagles started competing in the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics' California Pacific Conference in the 2013-14 school year.[62] The school became an NAIA member in 2010;[63] prior to joining the California Pacific Conference, the Golden Eagles played within the NAIA's Association of Independent Institutions.[62] Men's sports include baseball, basketball, cross-country running and soccer; women's sports include basketball, softball volleyball, cross-country and soccer.[7][62]

La Sierra formerly competed in the NCAA Division III level as an independent school.[citation needed]

See also



  • Klotz, Esther H. and Joan H. Hall. Adobes, Bungalows, and Mansions of Riverside, California, Revisited, Joan H. Hall, 2005. ISBN 0-9631618-6-5.

Citations and notes

  1. 1.0 1.1 Lua error in package.lua at line 80: module 'strict' not found. Archived October 9, 2007 at the Wayback Machine
  2. 2.0 2.1 Lua error in package.lua at line 80: module 'strict' not found.
  3. NAICU – Member Directory
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2
  7. 7.0 7.1
  16. 16.0 16.1 Robison, James I.Southeastern California Academy Pacific Union Recorder. June 29, 1922, p. 3 Accessed April 7, 2011
  17. 17.0 17.1 17.2 Klotz, pages 228-230.
  18. 18.0 18.1 18.2 18.3 18.4 Lua error in package.lua at line 80: module 'strict' not found.
  19. 19.0 19.1 19.2
  20. Beach, W. R. Loma Linda University and La Sierra College to Merge. Review and Herald, May 11, 1967, p. 32 Accessed April 7, 2011
  21. Lua error in package.lua at line 80: module 'strict' not found.
  22. 22.0 22.1 Lua error in package.lua at line 80: module 'strict' not found.
  26. 26.0 26.1 Mark A. La Sierra University Granted Window to Show its Faithfulness to Church’s Creation Belief. Adventist Review, March 24, 2011. Online Edition. Accessed April 7, 2011.
  27. 27.0 27.1 Lua error in package.lua at line 80: module 'strict' not found.
  28. Lua error in package.lua at line 80: module 'strict' not found.
  29. Lua error in package.lua at line 80: module 'strict' not found.
  30. 30.0 30.1
  32. 32.0 32.1
  39. La Sierra University: History of the Observatory
  44. Lua error in package.lua at line 80: module 'strict' not found.
  46. Lua error in package.lua at line 80: module 'strict' not found.
  52. La Sierra University Wins SIFE World Cup 2007 Accessed April 7, 2011
  53. 2007 SIFE World Cup Results
  54. Lua error in package.lua at line 80: module 'strict' not found.
  56. The Drury Mirror
  57. Lua error in package.lua at line 80: module 'strict' not found.
  62. 62.0 62.1 62.2 La Sierra University Becomes 10th Cal Pac Member
  63. 2010 NAIA Convention Recap -Day Four

External links