Monday, March 15, 2010

Accreditation and Academic Freedom

So I periodically check to see what is going on at the educatetruth site. I noticed something interesting today. According to their twitter feed on the right they had posted an article about WASC threatening to pull La Sierra's accreditation. The post itself was gone, but they did have a retraction notice. They decided to remove the post because they did not want to create problems for Larry Blackmer, the VP of Education for the North American Division. He had said some stuff and I guess he got some blowback once educate truth had posted his remarks. It was not removed because they had gotten some fundamental fact wrong (like what happened with Carlos Cerna's Biology paper awhile back.)

So, me, being the curious sort, decided to find out exactly what they had posted. Thank goodness for Google Cache. The quotes were from a Q&A session at an education summit for teachers in the Lake Union Conference in Michigan. In it, Larry Blackmer is quoted as saying, "Now WASC at La Sierra has contacted La Sierra and said, “”We believe in academic freedom as an accreditation agency. And if the church is going to meddle in what goes on in the classroom, then we will pull your accreditation.”" Later on, he discusses the results of a loss of accreditation. "No federal financial aid to any of the students. None of the credits from La Sierra would transfer to any other university. They would not be accepted into the University of California system for graduate programs. Just minor things like that."

This is why educatetruth will ultimately lose. Either evolution will be taught on campus or La Sierra as a university will be destroyed financially. This is actually something that I expected. The same issue came up when I was at Walla Walla College. The school board had started to meddle and micromanage the professors in the Theology department. I suspect the church administration will say some soothing words. Some meaningless action will be proposed to appear like there is action and the whole thing will blow over.


  1. "the whole thing will blow over."

    I've assumed the same, but people at ground zero in La Sierra and Loma Linda tell me otherwise.

    Also, every theologian except Alden Thompson left WWC because of the clean out (except for one who had an affair). There are other ways of getting rid of people besides firing them.

  2. I neglected this option. I know that my favorite professor left (Glenn Greenwalt.) I don't know if it was directly due to the "purge" at Walla Walla or not. Looking at their website, it looked like most of the professors that I had classes with are still there.

  3. My memory failed me. I just checked my source and according to him:

    The crisis ended in '98 or so. Within 3 years Greenwalt, Bercy, Joliffe, and Clark left of their own accord. The only ones left are Thompson, Pedrito, Bigger (who's part time), and Veverka (just retired). The sentiment among at least some WWU faculty is the liberal theologians became persona non grata, and took the first opportunity they could to leave (Joliffe was asked or nudged into the English Dept.). The current theology department is more conservative.

  4. That sounds about right. I noticed that Bursey and Clark were gone. I had forgotten about Joliffe. I took classes from Bruce Johanson (still there), Thompson, and Greenwalt. Most of the rest of my religion classes were taught by contracted staff. Of course everybody who left was replaced by somebody who was more conservative.