The nation’s leading academic organization has expressed concern that La Sierra University violated its own rules as well as long-established standards when it ended the employment of Dr. Lee Greer as an assistant professor of biology. In a letter dated May 31, Anita Levy, associate secretary of the American Association of University Professors (AAUP), asked university president Randal Wisbey and board chairman Richardo Graham to explain the situation.
The letter is of particular concern to the university’s faculty, students and alumni because the major accrediting body, the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) is on record in 2010 and again in 2011 registering concern about its institutional integrity. The backdrop for the letter is the ongoing controversy about how creation and evolution are addressed in biology classes at La Sierra which has resulted from criticism by an independent ministry since the 2007-2008 school year.
Greer was informed on February 13 that his contract would not be renewed and his employment will end on June 30. He has served as a full-time, regular faculty member for five years. Levy points out that this is a violation of AAUP procedures which the university has stated in its Faculty Handbook that it adheres to. “Faculty members who have completed two or more years of full-time service … are entitled to at least twelve months of notice before the expiration of their appointment.”
Levy also conveys the puzzlement of the AAUP at the university’s actions since Greer “did not actually do anything but simply make a proposal for consideration by his colleagues, the administration, members of the board, and church officials” a behavior that “should not be prohibited under the AAUP’s” rules. Especially since the university board voted on October 11, 2011, to affirm the document.
The letter suggests that the real reason for Greer’s termination is because he refused to sign an apology which the university required of all the biology faculty members who supported his proposal because it allegedly violated protocol. There is evidently no explanation of why this was necessary after the board approved the proposal.
The five-page letter recounts events that have been reported by Adventist Today and other news media. It expresses sensitivity to the issue of denominational expectations of the Seventh-day Adventist university. It clearly states that Dr. Greer is the primary source for the AAUP’s knowledge of the situation. “We would therefore welcome your comments,” Dr. Levy writes. So far as Adventist Today has been able to determine the university has not responded to date.
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