South Hill Seventh-day Adventist Church


La Sierra: National Recognition for Community Service & Engagement


 

 

 
La Sierra University student Kyle Thompson works with after school program youngsters at Myra Linn Elementary School in Riverside as part of a service-learning program. (Photo by Natan Vigna)
 
 

RIVERSIDE, Calif. – La Sierra University, a Seventh-day Adventist institution nationally recognized for its service programs, received top rankings recently for its community engagement and service programs.
 
The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching announced Jan. 7 La Sierra University’s community engagement re-classification, a designation that recognizes an institution’s collaboration with its local, national, and global communities for a variety of purposes including the enrichment of research, enhancement of teaching and learning, strengthening of democratic values and civic responsibility as well as contribution to the public good. La Sierra, first classified for community engagement in 2008, is among 157 institutions to receive re-classification status this year. That number is part of a total 361 institutions around the country to receive the classified designation from Carnegie since it initiated the program in 2006.
 
La Sierra is among 33 California universities and colleges whose documentation of academic service-learning and other service programs achieved Carnegie’s community engagement classification, and the only Riverside institution of higher education to make the cut. La Sierra is also the only Seventh-day Adventist school to receive the Carnegie Foundation classification.
 
Additionally, the President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll, a program of the Corporation for National and Community Service, on Dec. 8 announced its 2014 Honor Roll awards with La Sierra listed on its Honor Roll with Distinction, in both the general community service and education community service categories. The rankings respectively honor 121 schools around the country for their commitment to improving the quality of life of community residents, particularly low-income individuals, and 22 schools for their commitment to improving educational outcomes for children and youth in pre-kindergarten through college. La Sierra University holds the added distinction as the only Inland Empire regional institution recognized on the Honor Roll with Distinction for education community service. It is the university’s first placement on the list.
 
“Community service and outreach are foundational to La Sierra’s mission and among the core values we strive to instill in our students,” said La Sierra University President Randal Wisbey. “We are so proud of their hard work to help others through our academic and missions programs and their own individual efforts, as well as the dedication of La Sierra’s faculty who are key to the service-learning process, and who form the bridge with our community partners. La Sierra University is pleased and honored to receive these community service designations.”
 
La Sierra has for several years earned high-level recognition for its service and community involvement. In addition to the Carnegie designation, the university each year since 2008 has been included on the President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll tiered lists. In 2013, the university held the distinction as one of only five educational institutions around the nation to receive the Honor Roll’s Presidential Award, the highest federal recognition an institution can receive for its commitment to community, service-learning, and civic engagement.
 
La Sierra’s community engagement and outreach activities take place through a variety of programs including local and overseas missions, and the economic empowerment projects of its world-cup winning Enactus team. In particular, its service activities are driven by the university’s academic Service-Learning program in which undergraduates are required to perform 14 hours per student per quarter of community service.
 
The Service-Learning program began in 2002 with two community partner organizations working with La Sierra’s students. It now has more than 50 community partners that provide La Sierra’s students with service-learning opportunities. During the 2013-14 school year, 1,012 students engaged in 14,707 hours of academic service-learning. 
 
“We in the Office of Service-Learning are proud and often in awe of the many ways our university campus family works to make a difference in our local community and world,” stated Susan Patt, Service-Learning director and art professor. “Service is at the heart of our mission. To receive this recognition is both exciting and affirming. It’s the icing on the cake.”
 
During the fall quarter, business students from a La Sierra University Senior Project class, as part of their service-learning experience, raised more than $3,900 with bake sales and other activities and purchased games, art supplies, school supplies and sporting goods for after school programs at a Riverside elementary and middle school.
 
The Senior Project classes, led by Associate Law and Management Professor Jere Fox, since spring 2012 have delivered to Alvord Unified School District’s 16 after school programs a total of $22,556.53 in products paid for with student fundraising efforts.
 
“The time, energy, and dedication that has been shown by the LSU students each time this course is offered continues to amaze me,” said Carmen Phillips, After School Programs coordinator for the Alvord school district. “The LSU students do a fantastic job of showing the AUSD After School Program students that they care, want to make a difference and that giving to others in the community is a worthwhile endeavor.”
 

 
La Sierra service-learning student Joice Knuckles interacts with clients of the Inland Empire Adult Day Care Center in Corona. (Photo by Natan Vigna)
 
 
University students’ lives are frequently profoundly impacted by helping others through their service-learning classes. In a final paper last quarter, student Brett Gustafson wrote about his experience interacting with clients of an adult day care center in Corona in fulfillment of service-learning requirements for a class at La Sierra’s H.M.S. Richards Divinity School. The class, taught by Associate Professor of New Testament Studies Kendra Haloviak Valentine, is titled “Jesus and the Gospels.”
 
“My time at the adult day care center has been eye-opening in regards to the serious problem of marginalization in our society,” wrote Gustafson. “I believe that these people, because of their age, have had their value overlooked by our community.
 
Jesus restored meaning and purpose to the lives of the people He interacted with. And in the process, He restored wholeness through restorative action. I believe that the weekly meetings with these elderly people have given me the chance to take part in that ministry. Service learning, to me, was a great opportunity to put the practices of Christ in action. God has worked through me.”
 

About La Sierra University
La Sierra University, a Seventh-day Adventist institution nationally acclaimed for its diverse campus and its service to others, offers a transformational experience that lasts a lifetime.
 
U.S. News & World Report for six years named La Sierra University the most racially diverse university in the western United States. In December 2008 the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching included La Sierra on its 2008 Community Engagement Classification lists consisting of 119 colleges and universities around the United States. La Sierra University achieved re-classification status in 2015. In 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2014 the Corporation for National and Community Service announced La Sierra’s inclusion in the President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll awards. The awards include the prestigious 2013 Presidential Award, the highest honor a college or university can receive for its commitment to volunteering, service-learning, and civic engagement. The awards recognize La Sierra’s students for providing thousands of hours of service including international economic development projects by La Sierra’s World Cup-winning Enactus team, and community projects through La Sierra’s campus-wide, Service-Learning program.
 
The Seventh-day Adventist denomination established La Sierra University in 1922 on acreage formerly part of the Rancho La Sierra Mexican land grant. Today the institution provides more than 120 bachelors, masters and doctoral degrees for approximately 2,500 students. Programs are offered in the Tom and Vi Zapara School of Business, the School of Education, the H.M.S. Richards Divinity School, the College of Arts and Sciences and in the Evening Adult Degree Program.
 
“To Seek, To Know, and To Serve” is the key to the mission that drives La Sierra University, with all areas of campus encouraging students to develop a deeper relationship with God.