La Sierra University was contacted the day ADvindicate published "La Sierra University hires new evolutionary biologist," but was unavailable for comment until today. Their full statement is posted below:
For Immediate Release Larry Becker Executive Director, University Relations firstname.lastname@example.org 1-‐1-‐1
La Sierra University Responds to False Charges on Independent Websites
Educatetruth.com and ADvindicate.com have focused their efforts on damaging the reputation of Dr. Raul Diaz, who joined the La Sierra University biology faculty at the beginning of January.
Initially one of these sites used an unnamed source to accuse Dr. Diaz of being an atheist. When that was proven false, the site changed its conjecture to Dr. Diaz being agnostic. In fact, Dr. Diaz is a baptized member of the Seventh‐day Adventist Church. He has attended various Adventist churches throughout the span of his academic career.
Dr. Diaz is also quoted by these sites as saying he is an “evolutionary biologist.” Using this as an attack shows a lack of understanding of contemporary biology. An “evolutionary biologist” does focused analysis of the diversity of life, the genetic variations of living organisms, and how organisms interact with their environment. Through this important work, these scientists make possible advances in human health and medicine, agriculture, and the environment.
Dr. Diaz is a dedicated and talented young scientist who is seeking to discover what causes human facial and hand malformations through his research. His passion for his subject has already shone through to students in the three weeks he has been on campus. He looks forward to using his bio-‐medical research to develop classes for students with a pre‐professional health focus. His field and laboratory research efforts will also benefit those students planning to seek graduate biology education.
EducateTruth.com has also been attempting to short‐circuit the board’s efforts to revise the university’s bylaws in response to WASC’s and AAA’s concerns regarding governance issues. The Bylaws Committee members have worked many hours educating themselves so that they fully understand the issues. Their efforts have resulted in a set of recommended bylaws changes for the university constituents to act on during a special constituency meeting on February 21.
These recommendations are not designed to remove the university from Church control, as claimed by some. The proposals leave that defining relationship strong and unchanged, while addressing WASC’s stated concern about potential conflict of interest at the board leadership level. This is a unique situation, because the Pacific Union Conference is the only union in the North America Division where the union president chairs two college boards—Pacific Union College and La Sierra University.
A key recommendation from the Bylaws Committee is that the board chair be elected and be one of the four Pacific Union officers who serve as ex officio board members, rather than automatically being the union president. This allows the board to select its own chair, while ensuring that the chair will always be a union officer. The only limitation imposed through the proposal is that neither the board chair or vice chair of La Sierra University’s board may concurrently serve as chair or vice chair of another university or college board.
There is no change to the ex officio membership of the board, which will continue to have among its members the Pacific Union Conference president, secretary, treasurer, vice president, director of education, and the presidents of the Arizona, Southeastern California, and Southern California Conferences. The revised bylaws make no change to the constituent membership, and the constituency retains all existing control over lay appointments to the board and any amendments to the bylaws.
The board, according to the proposed bylaws, will continue to focus on setting policies that keep the university closely aligned with the mission, goals, and objectives of the Adventist Church.