After a search committee voting process that involved at least three candidates, the La Sierra University Board of Trustees selected Richard Osborn as the school’s interim president. This follows the resignation of Joy A. Fehr a month ago amid concerns that included persistent enrollment decline on the Southern California campus.
Retired but active with board responsibilities and consulting, Osborn comes to this role after a long bi-coastal career focused on institutions and learning. A teacher and then principal of Takoma Academy in Maryland, Osborn was education director of the Columbia Union and vice president of Education for the North American Division. From 2001-2009, he was president of Pacific Union College, about a seven hour drive north of La Sierra University. As Pacific Union institutions they share similar existential headwinds and several trustees.
Before retiring in 2020 Osborn was vice president at WASC, the educational accrediting commission focused on schools and colleges in and around California. In addition to his graduate work in history at the University of Maryland, this decade of travel-heavy higher ed team evaluation work outside the Seventh-day Adventist system provided Osborn with diverse experiences and extensive professional connections. With Acting President April Summit returning to her former provost responsibilities, Osborn enters this transitional executive role noting that it's a brief opportunity to make big reorganizational decisions that could pave the way for the next president to foster long term institutional health.
“Along with most faith-based universities, the challenges are enormous but can be answered through creative solutions backed up by prayer, Osborn stated in the university announcement. Detailing family connections to the campus, he stated, “My sense of loyalty grows out of my parents’ graduation from La Sierra,” he added, “My brother-in-law, Larry Geraty, gave distinguished service as president for 14 years.” Speaking of his wife Norma, a pioneering ordained Adventist pastor, “It’s this sense of calling that led to our acceptance of this position for a few months.”
Alexander Carpenter is the executive editor of Spectrum.
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