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La Sierra University Adventist Accreditation Report, Focus on Board Governance

La Sierra University has released news of the final results from the Adventist Accrediting Association (AAA) visit last November. They emphasize that they received the maximum reaccredidation: five year, with an additional three years to match the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) accrediting term through 2018. According to LSU, the final report contains 32 commendations and 22 recommendations for the university.

The press release highlighs these three commendations:

  • The University Studies Council and associate faculty for vision and creativity for developing and refining the University Studies curriculum (especially the group of “core courses”). The curriculum is central to the institution’s effort to deploy its mission for all undergraduate students.
  • The administration, School of Education administration, and the director of the CognitiveGenesis Research Office for developing, implementing, and distributing the results of the CognitiveGenesis project, one of the most comprehensive research projects in the world on academic achievement in Seventh-day Adventist education in North America.
  • The board, administration, and Office of Integrated Marketing for implementing the new communication initiative, including a new logo, website, brand identity and communication tools, etc. The brand signature was effectively used even in the well organized Self Study.

In addition, the final report included a call for an interim campus visit by AAA representatives to be completed no later than December 31, 2012, to reexamine campus progress on these four major recommendations:

  • Administration and faculty enhance the LSU “open minds” brand and classroom climate for students and faculty with traditional Adventist views, seeking balance by presenting a range of views and supporting student expression according to the principles of academic freedom. In particular, the biology and religion faculty, in collaboration with the faculty of the University Studies core courses curriculum, should seek ways to support the beliefs of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in an “open” manner and monitor effectiveness through program review.
  • The administration, faculty, and campus ministries staff update the Spiritual Master Plan based on broad-based campus participation, identifying outcomes and measures (such as a revised college-level Valuegenesis survey), and include specific goals for non-SDA students.
  • The board review its own governance structure and function to enhance:
    1. Orientation of board members to the board policy manual that outlines board responsibilities and procedures.
    2. Consistency with procedures whereby the board and University approve new programs; process personnel, faculty candidates and administrators; and approve other major changes.
    3. Efficacy of the board’s own internal self-governance, including board education, board evaluation, and overall effectiveness in dealing with central issues facing educational programs and services.
    4. Appropriate use of “executive session” and to develop or revise the criteria that determine whether an agenda item should be considered in executive versus open session.
    5. Assignment to the university administration at the levels of provost, dean and department chair the responsibility to mentor new faculty into campus ethos, and the educational mission of the institution and Adventist education in general.
  • The board and administration develop and implement a strategy to resolve the creation-evolution controversy, rebuild the reputation of the university, and regain the confidence of the constituency.

Randal Wisbey, La Sierra University president, states, “we are sincerely grateful for the thoughtful way that the team carried out their study visit. They listened carefully to our students, faculty, and staff as they sought to understand our mission as a Seventh-day Adventist university. I am pleased that the team is recommending a full accreditation term. We at La Sierra University look forward to continuing to serve the Church’s vital educational mission as we move into the future.”

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