It looks as if La Sierra University is between a rock and a hard place. Not only has LSU just hired a new evolutionary biologist, Dr. Raul Diaz (who believes in and promotes life’s existence and evolution on this planet over hundreds of millions of years), the team from the Western Association of Schools and Colleges that evaluates LSU has just forwarded a recommendation to the WASC Commission that a “formal Notice of Concern” be issued to La Sierra University.
As reported by Spectrum Magazine two days ago, the WASC letter went on to explain,
“WASC Standards of Accreditation call for institutions affiliated with or supported by religious organizations to have ‘education as their primary purpose and [operate] as an academic institution with appropriate autonomy.’ Institutions are expected to have a history free of ‘interference in substantive decisions or educational functions by … bodies outside the institution’s own governance arrangements.'”
From the Spectrum article it also appears that LSU has rewritten its bylaws in an effort to conform to WASC expectations and accreditation standards – to include a truly “independent” board for LSU (presumably independent of church influence or direction). The WASC directives will be presented to a special meeting of LSU constituencies on February 21, 2013, for a vote. WASC will then send another inspection team to evaluate LSU’s compliance from March 11-13.
“Then on April 17-18, 2013, the Adventist Accrediting Association is sending a focus group to review its recommendations made to the university.”
Which way will they go? If they decide to hire and maintain only those professors who will uphold and promote the Adventist perspective on origins and other fundamental doctrinal positions of the church, LSU will probably lose WASC accreditation and government funding. As an aside, many of the buildings on LSU’s campus are bonded by government funds (Link, Link), but I’m not sure what if any factor this would play?
If, on the other hand, the church relinquishes control of the school and the school’s board as WASC seems to be recommending, it might as well remove its name from the school as well because, for all practical purposes, it really isn’t representative of all the primary goals and ideals of the Seventh-day Adventist Church as an organization and is, and has long been, actively undermining the church’s position on origins in particular.