This statement was released by La Sierra University on Tuesday at 3pm.
Last Friday, four members of our campus family tendered their resignations at the request of our board chair. Each one had the choice of submitting his resignation or having the details of the situation in which he was involved presented to the Board of Trustees for discussion and action. All four chose to resign.
The university has a duty to all of its employees and students to follow appropriate policies and procedures in dealing with disciplinary matters. Part of this duty is to respect the privacy of the individuals involved. Even in the face of highly inaccurate and destructive speculation, policy and Christian courtesy require us to release information with great care. Institutions carefully work out policies in advance for just such circumstances so that they will act wisely and responsibly when the need arises.
Dr. Gary Bradley has chosen to email a letter to a wide circle of friends and colleagues that shares certain information about the circumstances leading to the request for his resignation. His letter, posted with his permission by a friend on the internet, acknowledges a recording made of a conversation among friends. He later provided the information, also posted online, clarifying that the recording was recorded by accident by one of the participants in the conversation. That person was also responsible for sending the recording out, apparently not realizing what he was sending. The content of the recording has not been disclosed by Dr. Bradley or the university.
While the university understands Dr. Bradley’s desire to explain what happened, the result of the letter has been further confusion and anger directed by some at the Church and at the university. People have made serious allegations without knowing what the recording contained and its context.
In an effort to reduce some of the most inaccurate speculation, the university released a statement on Monday stating that the matter at hand was not part of the biology controversy, and that no students were involved. This is correct. Despite Dr. Bradley’s letter and the unfortunate way it has shaped the debate, the university will only release additional information as appropriate according to both policy and Christian courtesy
When people in highly visible positions who have long served an institution are asked to resign, many questions naturally arise. One reason for these questions is the disconnect that colleagues, friends, alumni, and students sense. “How could it be that someone I have known and respected for years is suddenly asked to resign? That can’t be right!” It is important to emphasize that their resignations, while sad, in no way invalidate their years of valuable service to the university and to our students.
Because La Sierra University has been the center of the biology debate in the Church for several years, it is also easy for people who do not know the facts to jump to the conclusion that these resignations must be related to that issue. Some have taken it further, blaming the Church for carrying out a biology-related “witch hunt” by asking these individuals to resign. This is simply not true. The “convenient” explanation is sometimes the wrong one.
The board and administration of La Sierra University understand the frustration of the public when details about a situation such as this are not quickly forthcoming. We ask for your understanding and patience as we work the process through to the appropriate conclusions. And we ask for your prayers on behalf of the individuals involved, the university, our students, and our Church.
And here is the letter mentioned in Bonnie's article and the most recent La Sierra University press release.
To: My treasured friends and colleagues From: Gary Bradley 6-12-11
On Friday, June 10, 2011, I signed a letter resigning from the faculty position that I have enjoyed for 39 years. Since such an action always precipitates much speculation and many rumors, I want you to know exactly what happened and why.
Recently a secret tape of a private conversation among four friends was released and distributed widely in the SDA church hierarchy. A professional transcript of that tape was prepared, albeit with some mistakes in identifying the speaker. I participated in that conversation, was confronted therewith in the Friday meeting, and agreed with much, but not all, of what was ascribed to me. This conversation has already been mischaracterized and is being used in further attempts to discredit La Sierra University. I signed the resignation letter that had been prepared for me for two reasons. First, I believe that the best way for La Sierra University to come through this fiasco is for a “head to roll.” Second, I admitted to consuming a small glass of an alcoholic beverage during this conversation. On the first count, everything I have tried to do for the past 39 years has been to help La Sierra University to succeed. On the second count, I can only say mea culpa.
Needless to say, I am devastated. I feel like my very soul has been ripped from my body. My entire life since I began teaching 46 years ago has been dedicated to Adventist education. I’m not ready to quit and I grieve the loss of the classroom where I have had such rewarding interactions with the wonderful people who are my students. I have many important projects underway here now and many other people will be inconvenienced by my sudden departure. I can only say that I am deeply sorry and will try my utmost to earn redemption.
If you are among those who welcome this transition, I request that you celebrate with dignity. If you are among those who find this transition upsetting, I ask that you not turn it into a war. Please continue to do what you can to make La Sierra University the best and most progressive SDA university in the world.