La Sierra University
Seal of La Sierra University
Former names
La Sierra Academy (1922–1923)
La Sierra Academy and Normal School (1923–1927)
Southern California Junior College (1927–1939)
La Sierra College (1939–1967)
Loma Linda University: La Sierra College of Arts and Sciences (1967–1990)
MottoTo Seek, To Know, To Serve
TypePrivate university
Established1922 (1922)
Religious affiliation
Seventh-day Adventist Church
Academic affiliations
Endowment$35 million[2]
PresidentRichard Osborn (Interim)
ProvostApril Summitt

33°54′41″N 117°30′06″W / 33.91139°N 117.50167°W / 33.91139; -117.50167
CampusSuburban, 150 acres (61 ha)
ColorsBlue & Gold
NicknameGolden Eagles
Sporting affiliations
MascotGolden Eagle

La Sierra University (La Sierra[4] or LSU) is a private, Seventh-day Adventist university in Riverside, California. Founded in 1922[5] as La Sierra Academy, it later became La Sierra College, a liberal arts college, and then was merged into Loma Linda University (LLU) in 1967 and became the Loma Linda University La Sierra College of Arts and Sciences (or better known as La Sierra Campus of LLU). In 1990, the La Sierra Campus separated from Loma Linda University to become La Sierra University, an independent institution. It is accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC), the Adventist Accrediting Association (AAA), and several discipline-based accrediting bodies.[6]

Since becoming independent in 1990, La Sierra University has won multiple national and world titles in the Enactus (formerly Students in Free Enterprise) competition.[7] In the late 2000s and early 2010s, controversy arose involving the teaching of evolution in La Sierra's science curriculum.[8] La Sierra was founded in 1922 when the Southeastern California Conference, one of the regional governing bodies of the Adventist church, obtained 300 acres (120 ha) of land[9] in an unincorporated area of Riverside County from Willits J. Hole.[10] The land was once a part of a large Mexican land grant named Rancho La Sierra, giving La Sierra its current name.[10]


1941 postcard view of Angwin Hall on the campus of La Sierra College

Since its founding in 1922 as La Sierra Academy, La Sierra has morphed through a number of stages. In 1923, the school became known as La Sierra Academy and Normal School when it expanded into offering courses for future teachers. In 1927, after course offerings were expanded, it became known as the Southern California Junior College.[11] In 1939, the school was renamed La Sierra College. In 1940, the high school section split to form La Sierra College Preparatory School.[12] The preparatory school is now named La Sierra Academy and is still located near the university. La Sierra College was first accredited as a four-year liberal arts college in 1946.[11] In 1964 the city of Riverside annexed much of La Sierra lands and nearby Arlington, placing the college within Riverside's city limits.[10][13][14]

In 1967, the college merged with LLU, becoming its La Sierra Campus of LLU.[11][15] Between 1967 and 1990, La Sierra's College of Arts and Sciences, School of Education, School of Business and Management (now the Tom and Vi Zapara School of Business), School of Religion (now the H.M.S.Richards Divinity School), and Division of Continuing Studies were established.[11][16]

In 1990, the two campuses became two separate institutions, and the La Sierra campus became La Sierra University.[11] La Sierra remains a major feeder school for LLU[2] particularly for its medical programs.[4] After the separation, Fritz Guy became La Sierra University's first president.[17] He was followed by Lawrence T. Geraty in 1993,[18] Randal Wisbey in 2007, and Joy Fehr in 2019.[19]

In 1999, over 20 percent of the student body signed a petition criticizing the university's core curriculum due to its alleged lack of focus on the Bible, politically liberal leanings, and "subversive attacks on Christianity and monotheism".[20]

La Sierra sold approximately 200 acres of its land to a developer in 2000, in what the university described as "the most significant physical change to La Sierra in the institution's 78-year history."[21] The land, which the school formerly used for agriculture and a dairy, became a planned development known as "Riverwalk".[13][22]

Biology curriculum controversy

Thaine B. Price Science Complex

In 2009, the university's science curriculum became a subject of controversy as the school was publicly accused, primarily by former pastor David Asscherick, La Sierra University student Carlos Cerna, and former La Sierra University student Louie Bishop,[23] of exclusively teaching evolution in its biology classes, which the accusers felt was contrary to the teachings of the Adventist church.[24] Concerned about the allegation, a campaign collected over 6,300 signatures to an online petition which called for Adventist universities to teach the Genesis creation narrative.[25]

The university's board of trustees unanimously affirmed the Seventh-day Adventist Church's 28 Fundamental Beliefs but some[who?] viewed that as inadequate.[25] In 2010, the regional accreditation agency responsible for La Sierra, the Western Association of Schools and Colleges, gave the university an eight-year accreditation extension despite concerns over academic freedom and institutional autonomy.[26] La Sierra was accused of apostasy by the executive committee of the Michigan Conference, one of the church's regional governing bodies.[27] In 2011, the denominational accreditation agency, the Adventist Accrediting Association, gave La Sierra an accreditation extension ending in 2012, but required it to make changes to better promote Adventist teachings.[24]

In June 2011, three La Sierra University staff members resigned after a recording surfaced in which they were heard consuming alcohol and speaking critically of church officials. They alleged that they were compelled to resign in relation to the ongoing controversy but the university denied those allegations; the staff members sued the university but lost their case.[28][29][30][31] Later that year, the board of trustees voted in favor of a proposal stating "that creation be taught in university classrooms as faith, rather than science, and that students be told that it could not be proven with scientific methods." Prior to the vote, three out of four trustees in favor were dismissed from the board.[32][33] One of the five faculty signers of the proposal was dismissed from the university[32] which the American Association of University Professors protested as a violation of academic freedom and tenure.[34][35][36][37]


Hole Memorial Auditorium
Tom & Vi Zapara School of Business

La Sierra's 150-acre campus[4] is located in the La Sierra neighborhood[13] of the city of Riverside. The school is a member of the American Public Gardens Association, which has designated the campus an arboretum.[38][39]

The first buildings built on the campus were two-story separate male and female dormitories.[9]

The university opened a $23 million science complex in the fall of 2006, which houses its biology, computer science, and mathematics departments.[18]


The Frances E. Barnard Memorial Observatory is located behind the main La Sierra campus at the base of Mount Two-Bit.[40] The observatory was named for Frances Evelyn Barnard, mother of Marion Cecil Barnard, who donated the money necessary to build the observatory and purchase two telescopes (one of which is currently mounted to the concrete pier inside the building).[41]


La Sierra University is composed of the College of Arts and Sciences,[42] Tom & Vi Zapara School of Business,[43] H.M.S. Richards Divinity School,[44] and School of Education.[45] The university operates on the quarter system.[46]


Lee Grismer, a biology professor at La Sierra, has been noted for discovering multiple species of geckos in Southeast Asia.[47][48]

Student life


La Sierra is a leading school in the Enactus (formerly Students in Free Enterprise, or SIFE) program. Since the inauguration of the SIFE World Cup (now Enactus World Cup) in 2001,[49] the school has represented the United States twice, in 2002 and 2007, and won both times.[50][51][52] In the United States competition, La Sierra has won the national championship seven times, from 1994 to 1997 and again in 2002, 2007, and 2016,[53][54][55] has been first runner up three times, in 2000,[56] 2001,[57] and 2008,[58] and has been second runner up once, in 2009.[59]

Honors program

Founded in the 1990s, Honors at La Sierra involves a general education package with courses that are discussion and project-based and designed to lead into one another.  Cohorts of about 20 students take courses in the arts, sciences, religion, and other areas, taking part in research and community involvement projects and going on an international trip at the end of their sophomore year.  Honors is also a community of scholars, centered around the program's dorm (South Hall), where students study, socialize, and live.


The La Sierra athletic teams are called the Golden Eagles. The university is a member of the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA), primarily competing in the California Pacific Conference (Cal Pac) since the 2013–14 academic year.[60] The Golden Eagles previously competed as an NAIA Independent within the Association of Independent Institutions (AII) from 2010–11 (when the school joined the NAIA) to 2012–13;[61][60] and in the NCAA Division III ranks as an NCAA D-III Independent.[citation needed]

La Sierra competes in nine intercollegiate varsity sports: Men's sports include baseball, basketball, cross country and soccer; women's sports include basketball, cross country, soccer, softball and volleyball.[62][60]

See also




  1. ^ "NAICU - Membership". Archived from the original on Nov 9, 2015. Retrieved May 11, 2021.
  2. ^ a b "California Baptist University & La Sierra University". 951 Magazine. July 23, 2005. Archived from the original on October 9, 2007. Retrieved 2008-01-30.
  3. ^ a b La Sierra University Enrollment Report - 2022-23, Fall 2022, IR Office.
  4. ^ a b c La Sierra University. "About La Sierra University | La Sierra University". Retrieved 2016-06-21.
  5. ^ "La Sierra University | Best College | US News". Archived from the original on 2016-04-21. Retrieved 2016-06-21.
  6. ^ La Sierra University. "Accreditations | Academics | La Sierra University". Retrieved 2016-06-21.
  7. ^ "La Sierra University Enactus Team Wins National Championship". 2016-05-19. Retrieved 2016-06-21.
  8. ^ Olson, David (2012-05-10). "RIVERSIDE: La Sierra professor, board members dismissed - Press Enterprise". Retrieved 2016-06-21.
  9. ^ a b Robison, James I.Southeastern California Academy Pacific Union Recorder. June 29, 1922, p. 3 Accessed April 7, 2011
  10. ^ a b c Klotz, pages 228-230.
  11. ^ a b c d e "La Sierra University: Our History".
  12. ^ Katherine A. Koh, "A New School at Rancho La Sierra (1922-1946)" in Howe (2022), pp. 1-36.
  13. ^ a b c "Riverside, California | City of Arts & Innovation | At Home in Riverside". Retrieved 2016-06-21.
  14. ^ Jonathan Butler, "La Sierra Comes of Age (1946-1967) in Howe (2022), pp. 37-76.
  15. ^ Beach, W. R. Loma Linda University and La Sierra College to Merge. Review and Herald, May 11, 1967, p. 32 Accessed April 7, 2011
  16. ^ Warren C. Trenchard, "The Loma Linda Years (1967- 1990)" in Howe (2022), pp. 77-117.
  17. ^ "Riverside: La Sierra's first president is graduation speaker". The Press-Enterprise. 2012-06-13. Retrieved 2012-06-13.
  18. ^ a b Marisa, Agha (June 13, 2007). "Retiring president helped La Sierra University forge identity". Press Enterprise. Archived from the original on May 20, 2011. Retrieved 2008-01-30.
  19. ^ Warren C. Trenchard, "Becoming La Sierra University (1990-2022)," in Howe (2022), pp. 119-160.
  20. ^ "La Sierra students criticize core classes | Riverside News | - Press-Enterprise". Archived from the original on 31 January 2013. Retrieved 22 May 2022.
  21. ^ "La Sierra University: News & Events: Riverwalk Plan Goes Forward". Archived from the original on 12 December 2012. Retrieved 2 February 2022.
  22. ^ "La Sierra University: News & Events: RiverWalk Parkway development to rise from farmland". Archived from the original on 10 December 2012. Retrieved 2 February 2022.
  23. ^ Ferrell, Vance La Sierra Evolution Crisis Intensifies La Sierra Evolution Crisis Intensifies. July, 2010 Accessed March 31, 2020
  24. ^ a b Kellnor, Mark A. La Sierra University Granted Window to Show its Faithfulness to Church’s Creation Belief. Adventist Review, March 24, 2011. Online Edition.[permanent dead link] Accessed April 7, 2011.
  25. ^ a b David Olson (2009-11-17). "La Sierra University debate over creationism continues | Inland News | | Southern California News | News for Inland Southern California". The Press Enterprise, Retrieved 2011-04-25.
  26. ^ "La Sierra University Receives Eight Year Accreditation Renewal". Washington, D.C. Targeted News Service. August 20, 2010.
  27. ^ "Citing Apostasy, Michigan Conference Removes La Sierra University From Employee Subsidy". Spectrum Magazine. 2010-05-26. Retrieved 2011-04-25.
  28. ^ "La Sierra University Resignation Saga: Stranger-than-Fiction". Adventist Today. 2011-07-02. Retrieved March 31, 2020.
  29. ^ Read, David (December 20, 2013). "Green Spot Whiskey: drinking with the LSU-four". ADvindicate. Retrieved March 31, 2020.
  30. ^ Press release by McCuneWright, LLP[permanent dead link] Accessed March 31, 2020
  31. ^ Appeal Dismissed, Ending Lawsuit Against La Sierra University and Church. February 16, 2015 Accessed March 31, 2020
  32. ^ a b Olson, David (2012-05-10). "RIVERSIDE: La Sierra professor, board members dismissed - Press Enterprise". Retrieved 2016-06-21.
  33. ^ ERV on May 16, 2012 (2012-05-16). "La Sierra University: We want our scientists to make us look good, not teach our students science – erv". Retrieved 2016-06-21.((cite web)): CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)
  34. ^ (( authors[i].name )). "AAUP Demand Letter Regarding Academic Freedom Greer". Retrieved 2016-06-21.
  35. ^ Olson, David (2012-06-13). "EDUCATION: La Sierra University academic freedom questioned - Press Enterprise". Retrieved 2016-06-21.
  36. ^ "Adventist Today : American Association of University Professors Questions La Sierra University's Termination of Biology Professor". Archived from the original on April 14, 2013. Retrieved May 11, 2021.
  37. ^ "American Association of University Professors Issues Letter of Concern Regarding La Sierra". 2012-06-11. Retrieved 2016-06-21.
  38. ^[permanent dead link]
  39. ^ "La Sierra University - Change Your World". Archived from the original on December 15, 2012. Retrieved May 11, 2021.
  40. ^ "La Sierra University Student Handbook 2016-2017" (PDF). Retrieved 2017-02-05.
  41. ^ "La Sierra University: History of the Observatory". Archived from the original on Aug 13, 2013. Retrieved May 11, 2021.
  42. ^ La Sierra University. "College of Arts & Sciences | College of Arts & Sciences | La Sierra University". Retrieved 2016-06-21.
  43. ^ La Sierra University. "School of Business | School of Business | La Sierra University". Retrieved 2016-06-21.
  44. ^ La Sierra University. "Divinity School | Divinity School | La Sierra University". Retrieved 2016-06-21.
  45. ^ La Sierra University. "School of Education | School of Education | La Sierra University". Retrieved 2016-06-21.
  46. ^ "La Sierra University | Best College | US News". Archived from the original on 2016-04-21. Retrieved 2016-05-29.
  47. ^ Elizabeh, Lechleitner (27 April 2011). "La Sierra field biologist takes home new species of gecko". Adventist News Network. Archived from the original on May 3, 2011. Retrieved 6 May 2011.
  48. ^ Lucas, Laurie. "RIVERSIDE: La Sierra University professor discovers new Gecko species". The Press-Enterprise. Retrieved 2016-06-21.
  49. ^ "Account Suspended". Archived from the original on 2012-08-25. Retrieved 2012-09-18.
  50. ^ "La Sierra University Wins SIFE World Cup 2007". Archived from the original on 2009-05-28. Retrieved April 7, 2011.
  51. ^ "2007 SIFE World Cup Results" (PDF). Retrieved 2023-01-07.
  52. ^ "2002 SIFE World Cup Results" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2011-01-06. Retrieved 2011-04-25.
  53. ^ Archived from the original (PDF) on 2019-10-25. Retrieved 2021-05-11. ((cite web)): Missing or empty |title= (help)
  54. ^ The Drury Mirror
  55. ^ "Enactus United States - Enactus United States National Exposition 2016". Retrieved 2016-05-29.
  56. ^ Archived from the original (PDF) on 2019-10-25. Retrieved 2021-05-11. ((cite web)): Missing or empty |title= (help)
  57. ^ Archived from the original (PDF) on 2019-10-25. Retrieved 2021-05-11. ((cite web)): Missing or empty |title= (help)
  58. ^ Archived from the original (PDF) on 2019-10-25. Retrieved 2021-05-11. ((cite web)): Missing or empty |title= (help)
  59. ^ Archived from the original (PDF) on 2019-10-25. Retrieved 2021-05-11. ((cite web)): Missing or empty |title= (help)
  60. ^ a b c "La Sierra University Becomes tenth Cal Pac Member". 2012-11-19. Retrieved 2021-05-11.
  61. ^ "2010 NAIA Convention Recap -Day Four". 2010-07-01. Retrieved 2021-05-11.
  62. ^ "La Sierra University". Retrieved 2016-06-21.