Educate Truth shares the following excerpts from Inside Higher Ed as a service to readers. Opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Educate Truth.
April 12, 2011
By Libby A. Nelson
La Sierra University, in Riverside, Calif., has until the end of 2012 to resolve the clash to the satisfaction of religious accreditors or risk losing recognition from the Seventh-day Adventist Church, a loss that could put $4 million in financial support from the Christian denomination in jeopardy.
For the past two years, La Sierra and its campus of about 2,000 students have been at the center of a controversy about evolution, creationism and the role of religious belief in a science classroom. The university, one of 14 Seventh-day Adventist higher education institutions in the United States, adheres to the principles of its faith, including a belief that the earth and all living things were created in six days as described in the Book of Genesis.
As well as conferring official recognition, Adventist accreditation makes a college or university eligible for funding from the church or its regional branches. La Sierra receives about $4 million annually, he said.
He emphasized that the accreditation group’s actions so far were not intended to punish the university.
“They arenâ€™t on probation, theyâ€™re not on any kind of disciplinary move by the church at all — none,” Blackmer said. “We have just said, ‘We want to see some tangible evidence that you’re moving forward, and weâ€™re going to give you a year and a half — two years, basically — to show us that.’ ”
The university has taken steps to resolve the controversy, Becker said. They include a lecture series on faith and science and a broad review of freshman seminars, syllabuses and lectures. The biology department has written a statement of support for creationism, and La Sierra is recruiting a new faculty member for the department.
â€œWeâ€™re looking for ways in which we can teach science and balance the needs of the church, particularly by spotlighting and honoring the Adventist position on origin — creation,â€ he said. â€œWe havenâ€™t done as good a job as weâ€™d wished in the past. Weâ€™ll try to do it better.â€
University officials are confident that they will satisfy the church accreditorsâ€™ requests, he said.
Blackmer said the church did not want La Sierra to be defined by controversy. “We’re only dealing with a finite number of individuals and it has a tendency to cloud the whole university,” he said. “Thatâ€™s not a fair characterization of who they are.” (Read more)
Inside Higher Ed
Creating Controversy by Jack Stripling