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Graduates March, Resignations Stand


On Sunday morning there was pomp and circumstance on the front lawn of La Sierra University in Riverside, California.

Drawing upon the story of Joseph in the Bible, commencement speaker Charles Scriven told the graduates:

I suppose I could try to inspire you today with some version of the familiar baby-boomer platitudes: ‘Listen to your heart! Follow your dream! You can be anything you want to be.’

But that’s malarkey. You can’t be anything you want to be. The  world just isn’t that accommodating. We humans live, all of us, between our dreams and disappointments. Good things happen, but so do bad things. So you can count on having to face perplexity—‘What’s happening to me?!’—and some of you will face more than you ever thought you would.

Just think about the job scene. Or the gamble (as it seems) of marriage. Or the way everything that’s good and beautiful ‘hangs always,’ as the playwright Thornton Wilder said, ‘on the razor-edge of danger.’

Among the 338 students who received diplomas were the sons of both president Randal Wisbey and vice president Jeff Kaatz, (who had resigned his administrative position the previous Monday.)

And while it was a day for the graduates, the undercurrent to the event was the shock that the university was dealing with over the resignations of Kaatz, the dean of the College of Arts and Sciences Jim Beach, biology professor Gary Bradley, and board member Lenny Darnell. A recording of a private conversation had prompted the action.

The LSU Faculty Senate called an emergency session on Friday where an action was voted requesting the Board of Trustees not to accept the resignations. After graduation the Board met from 2 pm until approximately 8:30 pm.

On Tuesday in a meeting with faculty from the College of Arts and Sciences, Provost Steve Pawluk relayed a very brief message regarding the Board meeting.

The Board met in closed session and discussed issues relating to the resignations, including a letter received from the attorney for the three employees. The University’s legal counsel was present at the discussion. The Board referred the matter to counsel and has no further comment on the matter at this time. The resignations continue to be in effect.

With that announcement he began the proceedings for choosing a search committee to replace the dean of the College of Arts and Sciences.

Earlier, as La Sierra sent its graduates on, Scriven concluded his speech by telling the assembly the Joseph story. It's why faith matters. He said:

Even though you can’t be anything you want to be, even though bad surprises come into every life, you can make a difference, you really can. You can grown into a better version of yourself, you really can.

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