Posted by Educate Truth Staff
Since the 1960â€™s LSU (formerly LLU-LS – La Sierra campus of LLU, until 1990) has gradually changed. The primary change began in the early 1970â€™s. A group of LLU-LS faculty initiated a branch church in downtown Riverside, called City Parish. It was probably a good idea, but in the operation of that church over several years a group of faculty with similar goals and beliefs coalesced around a vision for LLU-LS. Their vision was to move the campus away from being a sectarian university that teaches SDA beliefs, and (as was at times openly stated) to take LLU-LS out of the SDA educational system.
The primary persons involved in this faculty group were from various disciplines, including religion, biology, physics, modern languages, math, history, and education. There also were other sympathizers who were not an active part of the group. The â€œgroupâ€ worked, over a number of years, to gain political strength with the other faculty. During those years the LLU central administration was based at Loma Linda, leaving the La Sierra Campus with weak leadership in some ways. The group capitalized on that situation and the resulting faculty distrust of administration, to gain political strength.
During that time some members of the â€œgroupâ€ proposed and launched an honors program called the Interdisciplinary Program (generally referred to as InterDip). The teaching in that program followed the vision of the â€œgroup.â€ Ronald Numbers was at that time teaching a class on the history of medicine for the LLU Medical School, and also was one of the primary teachers in InterDip courses, along with a LLU-LS religion faculty member. Several LLU biology graduate students were teaching biology labs, and from conversations with InterDip students they learned that the two InterDip faculty had largely convinced these students that life was the result of evolution over millions of years, and not special creation. The biology graduate students requested the Dean of the College to have faculty in the biology graduate program at Loma Linda give a series of lectures in InterDip to counteract this influence. This was done. A few years later a new Dean closed down InterDip, because of the negative influence it was having.
In 1980 the Dean of the College of Arts and Science resigned, and a search committee was formed to choose a new Dean. Somehow the â€œgroupâ€ managed to fill all but one position on that search committee. They launched an elaborate process designed to appear very democratic, while actually aiming from the start to install their candidate, who was at that time Dean of the Graduate School, as the new Arts and Sciences Dean. Their plan didnâ€™t work, thanks to the decision of the LLU President. It did result in the choice of a person poorly prepared to be Dean, resulting in a few difficult years for all. That Dean finally resigned after serious decline of his health, the departure of his wife, and other problems.
The â€œgroupâ€ had plans for changing some academic departments to better meet their vision, with the priority areas being religion and biology. The Dean of the School of Religion was Kenneth Vine. His views didnâ€™t match the â€œgroupâ€™sâ€ agenda. For example he removed one religion faculty from teaching the course on Ellen White when he learned that this person presented a very negative view of White. Vine was near retirement age, and when he retired the â€œgroupâ€ was delighted. The chair of the department of biology was far from retirement, so a different strategy was employed. The biologist in the â€œgroupâ€ took on the task of diverting the biology department from its commitment to biblical creation, to a more evolution-focused philosophy. In order to do this he would have to become chair of that department. He made serious efforts to accomplish this goal over a period of 5 or 6 years, largely by political maneuvering. The biology faculty were not sympathetic with his vision for the department, and he failed to accomplish it.
When LLU and La Sierra ended their twin-campus collaboration in 1990 the â€œgroupâ€ had more success in establishing their political leadership at La Sierra, now La Sierra University. They successfully selected the person of their choice as President of the new University, and in a few years replaced him with another of their favorites. After the biology graduate faculty left La Sierra in 1990 and became the Department of Natural Sciences at LLU, the new chair of the department of biology at LSU was successful, over the years, in guiding the department to follow the vision of the â€œgroup,â€ replacing any interest in a literal creation with teaching that urges the students to accept evolution over millions of years as the true story of origins. There is reason to think the faculty of religion have followed a similar path.
This history has brought LSU to its current position, with some leading faculty seeking to turn students away from the long-established beliefs of the SDA church, to a set of beliefs more in line with many mainline protestant denominations.