La Sierra University Controversy Timeline

About this timeline

Many sources provided the data for this timeline table. The timelines found on, attached to the Creation-Evolution Study Group report [63], and in the August 2011 issue of Spectrum Magazine [84] provided starting points. The Creation-Evolution Study Group report [63] is heavily cited and quoted verbatim as it is apparently the only source for much of this information. When [84] quotes [63] verbatim only [63] is cited. See the talk page for this article for information about editing this page.

You may find it helpful to refer to the "Cast of Characters" article while reading this timeline.

A detailed timeline of events related to the controversy at La Sierra University

Events prior to 2009

Date Event
May 21, 1999 A student petition criticizing La Sierra University's “C.O.R.E.” curriculum gathers 300 signatures.[1] LSU President Dr. Larry Geraty responds that “we will take seriously the concerns of students,” and that “next year’s core courses will have more emphasis on the Seventh-day Adventist viewpoint but the course topics won’t change.” [2]
2003 Former pastor, ARISE Institute co-founder David Asscherick does a two week evangelistic series at Loma Linda University. “The event was student-led and university-sponsored” where he spoke with students about their concerns about science teaching at LSU. [11] (Note that [21], citing a phone conversation with Ascherick, gives the year as 2004.)
July 24, 2003 Adult Sabbath School Quarterly editor Clifford Goldstein's controversial article "Seventh-day Darwinians" is published in the Adventist Review. [3] David Asscherick would later cite this article as one of his motivations for his interest in the LSU controversy. [35]
May 27, 2004 Janelle (Moorehead) Shives organizes a creation science seminar featuring pathologist and Intelligent Design advocate Dr. Sean Pitman and sponsored by LSU campus ministries at which she collects student signatures for a petition to get “more events at La Sierra University that actually show that science does not invalidate the Biblical account of Creation.” [4] [5] At the meeting LSU President Dr. Larry Geraty comments, “We’re all creationists here, and we all teach about creation.” [7]
July 14, 2004 Janelle and Jason Shives write a letter to several church officials alleging that LSU’s biology and religion departments “are openly teaching students that the theory of evolution is fact, and that the Bible was not meant to be taken literally.” [5]
July 1, 2007 Dr. Randal R. Wisbey is elected president of La Sierra University, succeeding Dr. Larry Geraty. [6

Events of 2009

Date Event
February 20, 2009 Sean Pitman gives Evolution vs. Creation lecture at LSU. [8] [63] About 100 students attend, but many leave before the presentation ends. [21] In an Adventist Today commentary, Ervin Taylor claims only about 10 remained till the end, that Pitman "particularly singled out for criticism the teaching of evolutionary biology in LSU science classes, and selectively quoted from a class syllabus," upsetting many students. [10]
March 16, 2009 Sean Pitman writes letter to General Conference President Jan Paulsen criticizing teaching of biology at LSU, [9], also writes to his own email contact list, in part as a response to Taylor's commentary on AToday website ([10]) and Taylor and Pitman's subsequent exchange. [21] (See also [43] which contains Taylor and Pitman's exchange and Pitman's letters to Paulsen.)
April 6, 2009 Jan Paulsen responding privately to Sean Pitman's email, writes, "My only suggestion to you would be to take up this matter with Dr. Randal Wisbey, whom I know to be a fine, upright, and approachable person. He may be able to articulate to you, clearer than I can, how the University views this matter and how they plan to address it." [21] [43]
April 30, 2009 Prompted by his perusal of course materials obtained from students and the Internet [21], David Asscherick writes a letter to General Conference/church officials Jan Paulsen (GC President), Don C. Schneider (NAD President), Ricardo Graham (Pacific Union Conference President). Meant to be private, the letter is circulated widely when Asscherick sends it to some friends for review. [11] [21]
May 5, 2009 “La Sierra sees first e-mail with Asscherick letter, sent to Larry Becker from contacts in Maryland. Becker forwards to administrative team.” [63]
May 12-13, 2009 LSU student Carlos Cerna has email exchange with LSU biology professor Dr. Gary Bradley about Cerna's UNST 404B capstone paper. [12] [13] After the exchange, Cerna was invited to speak with the teacher about his "C" grade but declined to do so. [34]
May 18, 2009 LSU President Randal Wisbey writes a letter to the board of trustees, LSU faculty and staff, and the LSU Church leadership team in response to Asscherick’s letter. [14] [63]
May 17, 2009 ASI Chairman Harold J. Lance writes a letter to NAD President Don Schneider, copies Jan Paulsen (GC President), Garland Dulan (GC Education Director), Larry Blackmer (NAD Education Director), asking church leadership to “weigh in on this matter,” saying, “It seems only fair that… parents and prospectives students have a full disclosure of what our Colleges and Universities are offering….” [15]
May 23, 2009 goes online. [21] “University begins conversations with legal counsel.” [63]
Doug Batchelor promotes on his Facebook wall. ([21], but the date lacks a citation since the Facebook post is unavailable to the general public.)
May 29, 2009 Spectrum Magazine publishes a story about the controversy titled “Unraveling a Witchhunt”. [21]
June 1, 2009 Carlos Cerna writes Randal Wisbey, copies Southern California Conference, Southeastern California Conference, and the Arizona Conference, criticizes teaching of evolution at LSU. Cerna graduates from LSU in June [16]. Cerna is subsequently found to have plagiarized parts of his paper. [34]
“Attorney for Adventist Review initiates contact with regarding copyright infringement of Review article.” [63]
June 2, 2009 “Attorney for Adventist Review reveals in correspondence with Shane Hilde that LSU is discussing with legal counsel options for dealing with and infringement issues on corporate identity.” [63] goes offline. [24]
Educate Truth goes online. [17] (However, [63] gives the date as June 8, 2009.)
“Wisbey sends letter to GC President Jan Paulsen and NAD President Don Schneider requesting help with the developing issue.” “Attorney for Adventist Review reveals in correspondence with Shane Hilde that LSU is discussing with legal counsel options for dealing with and infringement issues on corporate identity.” [63]
Shane Hilde, an LSU alumnus and high school English teacher, initiates an online petition directed at Randal Wisbey, Ricardo Graham, Don Schneider, and Jan Paulsen to be delivered to Wisbey on November 2 and to the LSU board on November 8, seeks 10,000 signatures. [23] [36]
June 5, 2009 Educate Truth publishes Louie Bishop’s testimony criticizing the teaching of evolution at LSU. [25]
June 8, 2009 is issued a cease and desist letter on behalf of La Sierra University on the grounds that the domain infringes La Sierra University’s trademark. [26] “ website established to replace the web site.” [63] (However, [17] gives June 2, 2009 as the date.)
June 11, 2009 “Wisbey holds university-wide faculty discussion on Creation issues in Matheson Chapel.” [63]
June 17, 2009 “Wisbey sends letter to Paulsen (GC president), Schneider (NAD president), Dulan, Thomsen, Beardsley and Blackmer. Letter asks for church to give serious consideration to all issues related to teaching of biology.” [63]
June 19, 2009 “An Appeal” by Jan Paulsen is published by the Adventist News Network. [27]
July 2009 Angel Manuel Rodríguez, director of the Biblical Research Institute of the General Conference, writes that it is “true that some Adventist scientists and theologians no longer believe that God created everything in six literal days,” calls Adventist evolutionists a “tragedy”. [28]
August 2009 Michigan Conference President Jay Gallimore writes an article for the Michigan Conference newsletter the Michigan Memo about “theistic evolutionists” teaching at Adventist schools, referencing Paulsen’s “An Appeal”. [29]
August 15, 2009 Jan Paulsen does Q&A at an Andrews Seminary Chapel. “Elder Jan Paulsen was reportedly given an anonymous question from an AU faculty member that said: I am someone who believes in God and creation, but not in a literal six-day creation. Should I resign from my teaching position in an Adventist University? According to Jennifer Birney, an AU employee and student, Jan Paulsen immediately responded, ‘Yes.’” [31]
Fall of 2009 LSU begins teaching a new course required for all freshman biology majors “to help prepare them to navigate issues of faith and science.” [47] This course was developed over the summer with input from the School of Religion. [63]
August 12, 2009 “Wisbey e-mails Important Reasons to Study Biology at La Sierra University to faculty of La Sierra University with a note of encouragement.” [63]
August 27, 2009 Wisbey writes Shane Hilde, says he will present Hilde’s petition to the board at the board’s November 12 meeting. [30]
September 1, 2009 Inside Higher Ed publishes a story on the controversy, includes a candid interview with Gary Bradley. [13] [63]
LSU issues a press release responding to the Inside Higher Ed story, saying Dr. Bradley’s views “are his views alone.” [32] [63]
Influential atheist blogger PZ Meyers writes about Carlos Cerna’s criticism of LSU. [33]
September 11, 2009 “LSU board action requesting Association of Adventist Colleges and Universities to convene a study group (with assistance from the Geoscience Research Institute) to prepare a curriculum for a thorough, balanced and scientifically rigorous affirmation of the SDA belief in a literal, recent six-day creation.” [63]
October 9, 2009 Sean Pitman and David Asscherick cohost a two hour special on 3ABN callled  "The Science of Faith—Seeing God Through His Creation" in which they discuss at length the controversy, letter writing campaign, and Educate Truth. Without mentioning La Sierra University by name, they are very critical of the university and its faculty. [35]
Early November, 2009 The Pacific Union Recorder publishes an article about LSU’s new freshman biology seminar, BIOL 111A, required for all biology majors and designed to “help entering biology students make an appropriate transition into the post-secondary study of biology in the context of their faith journey.” [106]
November 2, 2009 Shane Hilde and his wife Mary “visit w/ President Wisbey, deliver the petition, and take a campus tour.” [63] The petition handed to Wisbey contains 5,579 signatures. [107]
November 5, 2009 Louie Bishop sends out a mass email encouraging people to email LSU board members and sign Educate Truth’s online petition, and advertising a prayer vigil planned by Bishop and Hilde on La Sierra University's college visitation day in anticipation of LSU’s board meeting. [18]
November 6, 2009 The Press-Enterprise publishes a story on the controversy, reporting that Shane Hilde spearheaded an online petition against LSU getting 5,600 signatures. [36] (The number 5,600 is apparently approximate. See [107])
The LSU Faculty Senate vote unanimously on a resolution in support of the biology department and denouncing “certain off-campus persons” for having “publicly attacked” the biology professors. [37] [63]
November 11-12, 2009 The La Sierra Board of Trustees meets, discusses the controversy, and votes on “Resolution Regarding a Scientifically Rigorous Affirmation of Seventh-day Adventist Beliefs Regarding Creation” [39] and “Statement of Support for the Adventist View of Creation” [38]; produces a press release describing its actions [40]. (See also [41].) [63]
November 17, 2009 “President Wisbey speaks at the PUC Education Council and distributes informational handout regarding the teaching of biology at the university.” [63]
November 18, 2009 Influential evolution blog Panda’s Thumb posts an article about the controversy at La Sierra University, suggests that there is disagreement within Adventist academia about origins. [42]
November 19, 2009 “Wisbey updates PUC Executive Committee about the LSU board of trustees action.” [63]

Events of 2010

Date Event
January 1, 2010 Sean Pitman writes an open letter to Jan Paulsen (GC President), Don Schneider (NAD President), and Ricardo Graham (PUC President) criticizing LSU’s response to the controversy. [45]]
February, 2010 LSU’s board again “affirmed the university’s support for the Adventist view of creation.” [47]
February 10, 2010 “Board Chair Graham and trustee Brad Newton join Wisbey, Trenchard, and Beach for a meeting with biology department faculty.” [63]
February 16, 2010 “University-wide faculty meeting hears report on issue from biology department chair Jim Wilson. He spoke about the controversy and the manner in which he and his faculty colleagues are approaching this issue in their classrooms.” [63]
February 17, 2010 “Wisbey speaks to North American Division Conference presidents during annual meeting at Cohutta Springs. Formal presentation was 90 minutes, followed by 90 minutes of additional exchanges following formal close of meeting.” [63]
February 28-March 3, 2010 WASC Accreditation Visiting Team visits LSU as part of the accreditation renewal process. The team investigates how the controversy may impact LSU’s accreditation. [56]
March 16, 2010 The Association of Adventist Colleges and Universities votes the following: “that AACU expresses their support for the La Sierra University Board of Trustees and administration and their work in addressing the complex issues that surround the teaching of origins on SDA campuses, and”; “to appoint an ad hoc committee to develop strategies to encourage faith-based methodologies in the teaching of science on Adventist campuses.” “to approve the following members to serve on the committee: Eric Anderson, Gordon Bietz, Ron Carter, Dick Hart (chair), Heather Knight, and Randal Wisbey.” [47] [63]
March 25, 2010 “During the annual meeting of the North American Division Campus Chaplains Council meeting, the group votes confidence in the leadership of La Sierra and calls for differences among fellow believers to be addressed in love.” [63]
March 31, 2010 The Adventist Review publishes “Evolution Controversy Stirs La Sierra Campus,” a story online about the controversy at LSU, reports on Louie Bishop and his claims about being disciplined by LSU. [46] [47] [63] This same story is published in the print edition of the magazine on April 15, 2010. [50]
April 1, 2010 LSU responds to the Adventist Review story, saying the “article represents an unprecedented alignment of the official church paper with voices seeking to tear down a church institution,” lists several deficiencies they perceive in the article and several actions taken by LSU to address the controversy which were not reported by the Adventist Review. [47] The original Adventist Review story is subsequently appended with a note from Adventist Review editor Bill Knott defending the original article as “an example of the preparation and presentation of important information that the Adventist Review always seeks to achieve.” [46]
“Wisbey reports to campus regarding the Adventist Review article and LSU’s response.” [63]
April 15, 2010 Originally published online on March 31, 2010 ([47]), the Adventist Review story is published in the print edition of the Adventist Review. [50]
May 6, 2010 “Wisbey sends letter to editor of Adventist Review. Letter posted later that day on AR website.” [63] Wisbey writes, “I was saddened to read the article “Evolution Controversy Stirs La Sierra Campus” as it does not describe the campus that I know.” Dr. Art Chadwick of Southwestern Adventist University and Dr. Ariel A. Roth, former director of the Geoscience Research Institute also write letters appearing in the same AR website story. [19]
May 12, 2010 LSU has their biennial Constituency Meeting. “Vigorous discussion by delegates regarding creation-evolution” lasting 90 minutes. “General Conference VP Ella Simmons and General Conference and North American Offices of Education representative Garlan Dulan & Larry Blackmer participate.” [63] [20]
May 13, 2010 Educate Truth posts videos from LSU’s freshman biology seminar BIOL 111A without permission. [48] [49]
LSU constituency meeting involving Ella Smith Simmons, a general vice president of the Seventh-day Adventist world church; C. Garlan Dulan, education director for the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists; and Larry Blackmer, North American Division education director, meets to discuss the controversy. It is decided that “adjustments” be made to the freshman biology seminar BIOL 111A. [50]
May 21, 2010 The Adventist Review publishes a second article online reporting on the May 12-13, 2010, LSU constituency meeting and repeating Louie Bishop’s claims of being disciplined by the university. [50]
May 25, 2010 The Michigan Conference Executive Committee (MCEC), citing “apostasy”, votes to
* remove LSU from eligibility for tuition subsidy for Michigan Conference employees;
* “notify Michigan Conference members that we do not believe that La Sierra can currently be trusted to be supportive of Seventh-day Adventist spiritual values…”. [51]
May 27, 2010 “‘La Sierra Loved Me (Testify)’ Facebook page launched by several La Sierra alumni. Page currently has nearly [now over] 700 followers, and well over 150 posts from alumni and current students about how they value the university and their experiences here.” [63] [22]
May 28, 2010 Wisbey/La Sierra University responds to the MCEC vote of May 25, 2010. [52]] [63]
June 5, 2010 Ingo Sorke, chair of the religion department at Southwestern Adventist University, preaches a sermon to packed crowds at both services of the Keene Church about creation in which he criticizes Wisbey saying, "I'm very disappointed. Instead of directly addressing our concerns we only received political statements beating around the bush." [53]
June 8, 2010 “Provost-elect meets with Biology faculty.” [63]
“Membership and specific charge of ad hoc Creation-Evolution Study Group is developed in consultation with university president, provost, and provost-elect.” [63]
June 16, 2010 The LSU board of trustees appoints a Creation-Evolution Study Group to investigate the validity of allegations against the biology department. [63] (Note that [67] and [67] both give the date as June 6, 2010.)
June 21, 2010 The Central California Conference Executive Committee writes a letter to PUC officers and the LSU board saying they “feel after a year of process that a decisive and conclusive resolution needs to occur very soon,” and requesting “regular reports of progress to our Executive Committee and the officers of the Conference.” [54]
“Biology Department & provost-elect produce statement for use at General Conference Session (June 23 - July 4, 2010).” [63] ([63] gives the statement as [55].)
June 23, 2010 “Central California Conference Executive Committee votes to ask for report from LSU Board regarding efforts being made towards a ‘satisfactory outcome.’” ([63]
June 25, 2010 “Ted N.C. Wilson elected president of the General Conference.” [84]
June 29, 2010 As part of its accreditation report and renewal process, WASC writes a letter to Randal Wisbey saying the accreditation commission “is deeply concerned with this external threat to La Sierra’s institutional autonomy and to academic freedom.” [56] Letter says LSU’s accreditation renewed for eight years and that a “special visit will occur in Spring 2011 to review the issues of institutional autonomy, academic freedom, and faculty control of curriculum as related to the biology department.” ([63]
June 30, 2011 “A vote is taken at the GC Session to reaffirm belief in creation and review the wording of the church’s fundamental belief about creation.” [84]
July 1, 2010 “Board Chair Graham publishes ‘Why I Support La Sierra University’ as union president’s editorial in the Pacific Union Recorder.” ([63] [57]
July 29, 2010 “Board of Trustees Creation-Evolution Study Group meets in Glendale to follow-up on committee work that has occurred online.” ([63]
August, 2010 Michigan Conference President Jay Gallimore writes a second article for the Michigan Conference newsletter the Michigan Memo about the “problem” of teaching “some forms of evolution” at Adventist schools. [44]
August 10, 2010 The provost, in consultation with the Creation-Evolution Study Group, the Biology Department and individuals external to the campus, completes development of student survey in order for the Board of Trustees Creation-Evolution Study Group to have some objective information regarding what is occurring in biology courses.” ([63]
August 20, 2010 LSU issues press report that WASC renews LSU’s accreditation for eight years, takes note of the controversy. LSU reports that WASC plans to revisit LSU in the following spring due to its concerns about how the controversy may impact LSU’s institutional autonomy. [58]
August 24, 2010 “Board Chair Graham provides a progress report from the Creation-Evolution Study Group to the Board of Trustees.” ([63]
August 26, 2010 “At the request of LSU’s Board Chair Graham, President Wisbey, and Provost Pawluk travel to the General Conference Office to meet with President Wilson, President Jackson, and other church leaders.” ([63]
August 31, 2010 The LSU provost, on behalf of the Creation-Evolution Study Group, emails a survey “to 264 general biology students and 134 biology majors from the past four years plus students from 2000. … Follow up reminders were sent through September 17, and on September 20, the survey was closed.” Ninety one students completed the survey. [63] (Note that [59] gives the date as September 2, 2010. Also, [60] says there were two emails, the first on August 31, the second on September 13.)
September 7, 2010 Educate Truth posts a copy of the LSU’s student survey and Pawluk’s accompanying email. [59]
September 19-21, 2010 Ad hoc Creation-Evolution Study Group gives a preliminary progress report to the Board of Trustees at its retreat.” [63]
September 21 - October 27, 2010 “Results of the biology survey are analyzed by the Office of the Provost as well as by the ad hoc Creation-Evolution Study Group with input from Biology Department faculty members.” [63]
November 2 & 10, 2010 Ad hoc Creation-Evolution Study Group meets to determine an appropriate recommendation to offer to the Board of Trustees. Conclusions and recommendations are incorporated into a Powerpoint of the survey results and printed text of conclusions and recommendations distributed to the board of trustees.” [63] (The Powerpoint presentation referred to is presumably [60].)
November 11, 2010 “Board of Trustees, having gone into executive session, considers the results of the ad hoc Creation-Evolution Study Group’s research. Takes an interim action in executive session. Upon request for clarification provost is informed that he may not advise biology faculty of the action taken in executive session, but that the board wishes to receive the AAA site visit report prior to making a final and public statement.” [63]
November 15-19, 2010 The Adventist Accrediting Association (AAA) visiting team spends five days at LSU as part of its accreditation renewal process. [61] As part of the visit, they investigate the controversy. [63]
November 19, 2010 “NAD Director of Education gives President Wisbey a ‘consulting letter,’ addressed to university administration and the board, written on behalf of the site visit team by Larry Blackmer, Lisa Beardsley, and David Steen.” [63]
December 7, 2010 “President Wisbey, Provost Pawluk, and CFO David Gerguis meet in Thousand Oaks with Board Chair Ricardo Graham and Vice Chair Judy St. John to discuss the AAA draft report and the consulting letter.” [63]
January 11, 2011 Ad hoc Creation-Evolution Study Group meets in Glendale to review the “consulting letter,” and portions of the initial draft of the AAA site visit report. Committee chair, Larry Caviness, along with committee members Judy St. John and Meredith Jobe are commissioned to draft the committee’s report to the board.” [63]
January 12, 2011 “Provost & LSU biologists, in an attempt to seek productive solutions to the teaching of evolution and creation, request visits by pairs of the LSU biologists to the biology departments at sister institutions—Andrews University, Pacific Union College, Southern Adventist University, and Walla Walla University. (Initial response from the four institutions is positive, but then reluctance to set up the visits is expressed. LSU is considering alternative ways to foster collegial and productive discussions among colleagues.)” [63]

Events of 2011 prior to lawsuit

Date Event
February 1, 2011 LSU receives the AAA visiting team’s final report. [61] [63]
February 7, 2011 “‘Final draft’ of the AAA Report is forwarded to the ad hoc Creation-Evolution Study Committee for review.” [63]
February 8, 2011 LSU posts a report on its website saying the AAA visiting team recommends the maximum accreditation extension of eight years, reports on the AAA visiting team’s commendations and recommendations for dealing with the controversy. (The original LSU press release is no longer available on its website as of October 2, 2011.) [61] [62]
February 9-10, 2011 “Board of Trustees meets. Reviews and approves final report and recommendations from ad hoc Creation-Evolution Study Group in open board session.” [63] [67] (Note that this document [63], while dated February 9, 2010, contains “Board approved 2/10/2011” in the footer.) This report contains the results of the student survey and finds that “[i]instruction at the university… has not adequately presented the denominations position on the subject of creation”; “some biology faculty…do not faithfully present the Biblical position of creation as understood and taught by the Adventist Church”; and “[t]here is some evidence that students have not always been respected for their belief in the Biblical creation position and some have felt marginalized for their position.” [63]
“Board of Trustees also votes the following action: ‘to request that President Wisbey make a request to the Association of Adventist Colleges and Universities with a message that La Sierra University is earnestly seeking information on how to deal with the creation evolution issue, and to suggest that they build a survey tool that can be administered to all North American Division SDA higher education institutions and that the comparative data be made available to each institution’” [63]  
March 9, 2011 Open letter from LSU president Wisbey and board chair Graham released, highlights LSU’s efforts to deal with the controversy, states, “The survey… showed areas in which we have fallen short of what we and our Church want for our students. …This is not acceptable, and we apologize.” [64] The letter was drafted “by a small group” from LSU’s board, and “there were others on the board who felt the open letter went far beyond what had been voted by the board.” [84]
“Late March” “Group of four at GC meet to draft alternative motion” from that of a motion to accept the visiting team’s report “regarding LSU for upcoming AAA Board session.” [84]
April 4, 2011 “AAA Board votes in Silver Spring. Alternative motion passed….” [84] “‘Although La Sierra University has deviated from the philosophy and objectives of Seventh-day Adventist education,’ the voted action reads, ‘it is moved that the university be granted an extension of accreditation to December 31, 2012 in order for the university to act upon its commitments and implement changes and enhancements" involving the teaching of origins at the school.’” [65]
April 5, 2011 The Adventist News Network reports on the AAA Board vote with the title, “La Sierra University granted window to show its faithfulness to Adventist Church's belief on origins.” [65]
April 18-19, 2011 WASC sends a Special Visiting team for an on-site review of LSU of how effectively LSU is handling the controversy. [79]
April 20, 2011 “Blackmer and the president of the North American Division, Dan Jackson, traveled to Southern California and met with the LSU faculty for a candid discussion of the accreditation process.” “Board member Lenny Darnell records the session plus (unknowingly) the conversation that he had afterwards with” Jeff Kaatz, LSU vice president of development, Jim Beach, LSU dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, and Gary Bradley, professor of biology, at Beech’s home. The four friends’ candid conversation includes “colorful language to describe faculty colleagues and church officials.” As Darnell leaves he thanks “his host for the booze, too.” [84] [71]
April 21, 2011 Not knowing the private conversation was included, “Darnell shared the recording he had made of the Jackson/Blackmer meeting with several people including an LSU faculty member and Spectrum.” [71]
“Early May” “Board member writes to Larry Blackmer hoping to act as peacemaker between him and the Biology Department faculty. Board member feels like Blackmer misunderstood comments by biology faculty during the AAA accreditation visit. She notes that the April 20 session did not help the situation, and she attaches the recording  of the April 20 public meeting to verify her statement.
“While shaving, Blackmer turns on the recording and lets it run as he gets ready for the day. All of a sudden he hears someone calling him names and realizes that it is no longer a tape of the public meeting.
“Blackmer asks for a transcription of the private  meeting recording from the General Conference Office of General Counsel.” [84]
May 13, 2011 Jared Wright publishes an article critical of LSU's analysis of the survey results, cites LSU provost Steve Pawluk's presentation of the results as painting a much more positive picture of the results. [67]
May 20, 2011 Research scientist T. Joe Willey's detailed 14 page analysis of the LSU student survey is published on the Spectrum blog. Willey writes, "In this family feud, the responses in the survey said—that the LSU biology program was performing as expected in a university, and in fact the professors stepped out away from science and according to the survey were consistent in supporting student’s religious pilgrimage." [69] [68]
June 1, 2011 “Dan Jackson gives transcript to Board Chair Ricardo Graham.” [84] (Note that [71] says Blackmer gave the recording to Graham.)
June 5, 2011 “Jackson and Graham confer about the transcript.” [84]
June 8, 2011 “Graham talks with LSU Attorney Kent Hansen. Hansen has not yet seen the transcript.” [84]
June 9, 2011 "Karnik Doukmetzian, general counsel for the GC, confers with Jackson, Blackmer, Graham, and Hansen about the case." [84]
Graham contacts LSU President Wisbey, instructs Wisbey to have the four men on the recording at Wisbey’s office the next day (a Friday) but does not tell him why.  [84]
June 10, 2011 Friday afternoon, hour before the meeting with the four men Wisbey finally learns the purpose of the meeting. Pawluk also first learns about the meeting. [70] [84] “Each man was called individually into the president’s office at LSU where Graham, Wisbey, and Hansen presented them with the evidence of their recorded conversation and asked them if they would like to resign or have the transcription shared with the entire Board of Trustees.” [84] All four signed the letter of resignation prepared for them. [71]
June 12, 2011 LSU issues a press release Sunday evening announcing the resignations. [71] [72] (Note that [84] gives the date as June 13, 2011.)
Gary Bradley writes an email letter to his friends about the resignations. Says the transcript contains some mistakes in identifying the speaker. Writes, "I … agreed with much, but not all, of what was ascribed to me. This conversation has already been mischaracterized and is being used in further attempts to discredit La Sierra University." Also, "I admitted to consuming a small glass of an alcoholic beverage during this conversation." Expresses his devastation over the incident. [72]
June 13, 2011 LSU releases another press release at 11:37 AM about the resignations. Citing "a great deal of speculation taking place on campus and on the internet," says, "Please understand these resignations have no connection to the biology controversy. There is also no connection with students." Says, "university policies are being carefully followed." [70]
June 14, 2011 "Blackmer meets again with legal counsel about the incident." [84]
LSU releases another press release at 3pm reiterating its commitment to follow established policy, criticizing Bradley for giving permission for his email to be published on the internet, confirming some of Bradley's account of events, and saying LSU cannot release additional information. [72] [70]
June 15, 2011 Wisbey writes a letter to WASC informing them of the resignations. Also sends a response to the WASC Special Visiting team report. [79]
June 16, 2011 The Spectrum blog reports on the outpouring of support for Bradley from students, friends, and faculty on the internet, including a Facebook group titled, "I am thankful to Dr. G. Bradley for…". [73] As of October 8, 2011, that Facebook group has 361 members. [75]
June 17, 2011 LSU Faculty Senate call an emergency meeting [77], " unanimously passed a motion asking the LSU Board of Trustees to not accept the recent resignations of the three LSU faculty members, two of whom are administrators and one a member of the Board." [76]
June 19, 2011 "Graduation Day at LSU.
"LSU Board meets and receives information about the recording and the resignations, as well as a letter from the attorney representing the three employees." [84] "Following a robust discussion" the board accepted the resignations. [78] The board meeting lasts from 2pm until approximately 8:30pm. [77]
June 21, 2011 "Provost Steve Pawluk meets with faculty of the College of Arts and Sciences. Announces board action and begins process for the selection of a new Dean." [84] [77]
June 22-24, 2011 WASC Commission meets to consider the report of WASC's Special Visit team which visited LSU April 18-19, 2011. [79]
June 23, 2011 "Graham, Wisbey, Pawluk, Biology Chair James Wilson, and WASC faculty coordinator Cindy Parkhurst travel to Oakland to meet with WASC." [84] [79]
June 28, 2011 "NAD College Presidents meet in Denver with NAD President & VP Blackmer." [84]
July 5, 2011 WASC writes LSU a formal "letter of concern" about the role and composition of LSU's board and LSU's institutional autonomy. The letter, however, praises Wisbey and the LSU faculty, saying they "handled this controversy honorably and professionally, while under considerable external pressure, and have adhered to sound academic principles and well-accepted principles of academic governance and freedom." Says that "the recent forced resignations, which were obtained through the actions of the board chair, reinforce concerns about institutional autonomy because of the multiple roles that the board chair has in the University and in the Church." Schedules another Special Visit for spring 2012 to review issues raised in the formal letter of concern.  [79]
July 18, 2011 LSU's board meets, accepts the notice of concern, issues a statement saying they take WASC's findings seriously and will meet next month to begin addressing their concerns.  [80]
July 19, 2011 LSU releases a press report reporting on WASC's formal letter of concern, publishes board's response. [80]

Events of 2011 - after the lawsuit

Date Event
July 28, 2011 "The law firm of McCuneWright LLP, representing La Sierra University employees Dr. Jeffry Kaatz, Dr. Jim Beach, and Dr. Gary Bradley, issued a release concerning a lawsuit filed today in the Superior Court of California of and for the County of Riverside. Named as defendants are Ricardo Graham, Daniel R. Jackson, Larry Blackmer, the North American Division of Seventh-day Adventists, the Pacific Union Conference of Seventh-day Adventists and La Sierra University."  [83] [84] (The original press release is [81].)
August 2, 2011 The GC responds to the lawsuit: "'The litigation is without merit, and will be defended in the most appropriate manner,' says Karnik Doukmetzian, an attorney and the North American Division’s General Counsel.  'External counsel has been retained through Adventist Risk Management which provides insurance coverage for the defendants involved, and will be defending the organizations and individuals named in the suit.'" [85] [88]
August 3, 2011 The Press-Enterprise reports on the threat to LSU's WASC accreditation because of the amount of influence of the church. [86]
August 4, 2011 The Associated Press publishes a story, saying LSU's WASC accreditation is threatened due to the amount of influence the Seventh-day Adventist Church has over the institution. The article mentions "religious influences in the university's teaching of biology," but does not mention evolution or the firings.  [87] Various news outlets publish the story. The story references [86] which was published the previous day.
August 29, 2011 Ricardo Graham is reelected president of the Pacific Union Conference in a controversial vote of the Pacific Union Conference Constituency Meeting in Ontario, California. The nominating committee selected Graham's name "well before" the lawsuit was filed, and the delegates were never informed of the lawsuit. [89]
September 13, 2011 The Pacific Union Conference and North American Division file a demurrer. [90] LSU also files a seperate demurrer. [91] "Counsel states that the LSU—3, 'asks this court to engage in a full-scale assault on the First Amendment for protections of religion and expressive association rights. The Constitution prohibits courts from such entanglements in the internal affairs of churches,'" and calls "La Sierra University a 'ministry' of the Seventh-day Adventist Church." [94] [108]
September 14, 2011 Lawyers for the so-called LSU-3 issue a press release responding to the demurrers, claims the defendants "take positions that are completely at odds with the position La Sierra University has taken [with WASC], its faculty and staff, its students, the community, its mission, and its bylaws," in saying LSU is tied to the church in terms of spiritual and administrative authority, and that the controversy is a theological one. [93]
September 19, 2011 The Press-Enterprise reports on the defendents' First Amendment defense.  [95]
September 22, 2011 Attorneys for Ricardo Graham file a demurrer [97] stating that “Graham cannot be held personally liable for his actions as volunteer executive officer for a nonprofit organization” [108], and a motion to strike [96] “stating that the complaint makes no allegation that Graham operated outside of his duties as Board chairman, and as such, cannot be held liable.” [108]
October 5, 2011 A “Joint Proposal” signed by six LSU faculty and four LSU board members [99] as well as “A Response to the Joint Proposal” from the NAD [98] favorable to the joint proposal are released and announced in an Adventist Review article. [100] The joint proposal “reflected conversations that have taken place over the summer between members of the Biology department faculty and the North American Division Office of Education.” [101]
October 6, 2011 Attorneys for the LSU-3 file opposition to LSU’s demurrer [102] and opposition the PUC and the NAD’s demurrer [103], also file an opposition to LSU’s motion to strike [104], “stating that the request amounts to a thinly disguised motion for summary judgment—a judicial shortcut that lacks any proper evidentiary foundation,” 108] and an “Opposition and Objection to Request for Judicial Notice” [105].

Other timelines and comprehensive reports available online

Spectrum's original report on the controversy is quite thorough:

Robert Jacobson wrote a summary of events for friends and family (which is woefully outdated and does not reflect his current thinking about the subject):

Educate Truth has a timeline as well:

Creation-Evolution Study Group Report includes a detailed timeline in the appendix:

The Summer 2011 print issue of Spectrum Magazine includes a timeline accompanying the article "Misunderstandings Multiply".


1. Student petition from 1999, original document.
2. “Staff”, LSU student petition criticizes curriculum, Educate Truth, August 20, 2010.
3. Clifford Goldstein, Seventh-day Darwinians, Adventist Review, July 24, 2003.
4. Janelle (Moorehead) Shives, student petition from 2004, original document, May 27, 2004.
5. Janelle (Moorehead) Shives, letter to church leaders, original document, July 14, 2004.
6. La Sierra University, Meet The President, Randal R. Wisbey
7. “Staff”, LSU student petition surfaces, Educate Truth, November 11, 2010.
8. Sean Pitman, Evolution vs. Creation, February 20, 2009.
9. Sean Pitman, Letter to Jan Paulsen by Sean Pitman, MD, Educate Truth, March 16, 2009.
10. Ervin Taylor, Fundamentalist Creationist Gets Lukewarm Student Reception at La Sierra University, AToday, March 29, 2009. (Original link unavailable.)
11. David Asscherick, David Asscherick letter to the General Conference, Educate Truth, April 30, 2009 (published June 6, 2009).
12. Carlos Cerna and Gary Bradley, original email exchange, May 12-13, 2009.
13. Jack Stripling, Creating Controversy, Inside Higher Education, September 1, 2009.
14. Randal Wisbey, letter to La Sierra University community, original document, May 18, 2009.
15. Harold J. Lance, letter to Don Schneider, original document, May 27, 2009.
16. Carlos Cerna, Letter to Wisbey from Carlos Cerna, Educate Truth, June 1, 2009 (published August 25, 2009).
17. Shane Hilde,’s FAQ from November 26, 2009. Accessible via the Internet Archive Wayback Machine.
18. Jared Wright, Educate Truth Group To Force LSU Action, Spectrum blog, November 11, 2009.
19. Randal Wisbey et al, Readers Respond to the Evolution Controversy at La Sierra University, Adventist Review, May 6, 2010.
20. Larry Becker, La Sierra University constituency delegates elect new board members, make bylaws change, May 21, 2010.
21. Spectrum Editors, Unraveling a Witchhunt, Spectrum blog, May 29, 2009.
22. La Sierra Loved Me (Testify!), Facebook page.
23. Shane Hilde, Petition to Our Seventh-day Adventist Church Leadership, petition on, June 2, 2009.
24. Shane Hilde,’s “about” page from June 9, 2009. Accessible via the Internet Archive Wayback Machine.
25. Louie Bishop, LSU Testimony by Louie Bishop, Educate Truth, June 5, 2009.
26. Edward R. McNicholas, letter to Domains by Proxy, Inc., original document, June 8, 2009.
27. Jan Paulsen, An Appeal, Adventist News Network, June 19, 2009.
28. Angel Manuel Rodríguez, Honoring the Creator God, Adventist World, July 2009.
29. Jay Gallimore, Evolution in Education?, Michigan Memo, August 2009.
30. Shane Hilde, LSU Controversy Receives Secular Media Attention, Educate Truth, September 7, 2009.
31. Jan Paulsen Says ‘Yes,’ They Should Resign, Educate Truth, September 1, 2009.
32. Larry Becker, Statement on Recent Article Regarding La Sierra University Biology Department, Educate Truth, September 1, 2009.
33. P.Z. Meyers, Carlos Cerna will someday demand his Ph.D., Pharyngula, September 1, 2009.
34. Jared Wright, Educate Truth and Consequences: The Assault On La Sierra University Continues, Spectrum blog, September 10, 2009.
35. Sean Pitman and David Asscherick, The Science of Faith—Seeing God Through His Creation, 3ABN, October 9, 2009.
36. David Olson, More than 5,600 people sign petition in favor of creationism, The Press-Enterprise, November 6, 2009.
37. La Sierra University Faculty Senate Resolution, Affirmation of Support for Department of Biology, College of Arts and Sciences, original document, November 6, 2009.
38. La Sierra Board of Trustees, Statement of Support for the Adventist View of Creation, original document, November 11, 2009.
39. La Sierra Board of Trustees, Resolution Regarding a Scientifically Rigorous Affirmation of Seventh-day Adventist Beliefs Regarding Creation, original document, November 12, 2009.
40. La Sierra Board of Trustees, La Sierra University Board of Trustees Affirms University’s Support for Church’s Creation Doctrine, original document, November 12, 2009.
41. Larry Becker, LSU Board news release and actions, Educate Truth, November 13, 2009.
42. Nick Matzke, Seventh-Day Adventists split over evolution?, Panda’s Thumb, November 18, 2009.
43. Sean Pitman, The Evolution of La Sierra University, February, 2010.
44. Jay Gallimore, ”Go Forward,” Despite the Dangers, Michigan Memo, August 2010.
45. Sean Pitman, An Open Letter to Elders Jan Paulsen, Don C. Schneider, Ricardo Graham, original document, January 1, 2010.
46. Mark A. Kellner, Evolution Controversy Stirs La Sierra Campus, Adventist News Network, March 31, 2010.
47. Larry Becker, La Sierra University Responds to Adventist Review Article, April 1, 2010.
48. Videos show LSU undermining church doctrine, EducateTruth, May 13, 2010.
49. Robert Jacobson, “Antione Roquentin”, and Shane Hilde, in an exchange on the Spectrum blog, September 3, 2010.
50. Mark A. Kellner, Board Moving to Resolve La Sierra Evolution Issue, Adventist Review, May 21, 2010.
51. Michigan Conference Executive Committee, Actions of the Michigan Conference Executive Committee following up on the promises published in the August 2009 //Michigan Memo on “Evolution in Education?”, original document, May 25, 2010.
52. Randal Wisbey, //La Sierra University Responds to the Michigan Conference Action, May 28, 2010.
53. Ingo Sorke, Re-Creation, Keene Seventh-day Adventist Church, June 5, 2010.
54. Jerry N. Page, CCC Requests “Decisive and Conclusive Resolution” from LSU, Educate Truth, June 21, 2010.
55. Biology at La Sierra University, June 21, 2010.
56. Ralph A. Wolff, letter to Randal Wisbey and Report of the WASC Visiting Team , original document, June 29, 2010.
57. Ricardo Graham, Why I Support La Sierra University, Pacific Union Recorder, July 2010 edition, July 1, 2010.
58. Larry Becker, La Sierra University Receives Eight Year Accreditation Renewal, August 20, 2010.
59. Shane Hilde, LSU surveys students, Educate Truth, September 7, 2010.
60. LSU Biology Survey Findings, powerpoint presentation, original document, November 10, 2010.
61. Larry Becker, press release concerning AAA site visit, original document, February 8, 2011.
62. Alexander Carpenter, La Sierra University Adventist Accreditation Report, Focus on Board Governance, Spectrum blog, February 8, 2011.
63. Creation-Evolution Study Group, Report and Recommendations, original document, February 9, 2011.
64. Randal Wisbey and Ricardo Graham, An Open Letter Regarding the Teaching of Creation, original document, March 9, 2011.
65. Mark A. Kellner, La Sierra University granted window to show its faithfulness to Adventist Church's belief on origins, Adventist News Network, April 5, 2011.
66. Larry Becker, AAA Board Votes Extension of University's Accreditation; Schedules Interim Visit in 2012, April 5, 2011.
67. Jared Wright, Double-Take: A Second Look at LSU's Biology Student Survey, Spectrum blog, May 13, 2011.
68. T. Joe Willey, Faulty Analysis of La Sierra University Biology Student Survey Provokes Unjustified Apology, original document, May 17, 2011.
69. T. Joe Willey, Continued Analysis of La Sierra University Student Survey Reveals Faulty Allegations, Spectrum blog, May 20, 2011.
70. Alexander Carpenter, Four Resign at La Sierra University—UPDATED, Spectrum blog, June 13, 2011.
71. Bonnie Dwyer, Private Recorded Conversation Prompts La Sierra Resignations, Spectrum blog, June 14, 2011.
72. Alexander Carpenter, Two Recent Documents Regarding the La Sierra Resignations, Spectrum blog, June 14, 2011.
73. Jared Wright, Students, Faculty Stand by Dr. Gary Bradley, Spectrum blog, June 16, 2011.
74. David Olson, LA SIERRA: Four resign after recording emerges, The Press-Enterprise, June 17, 2011.
75. Facebook group, I am thankful to Dr. G. Bradley for….
76. Erv Taylor, La Sierra U. Faculty Senate Vote - June 17, 2011, AToday, June 20, 2011.
77. Bonnie Dwyer, Graduates March, Resignations Stand, Spectrum Magazine, June 21, 2011.
78. AToday Editorial Team, La Sierra University Resignation Saga: Stranger-than-Fiction, AToday, July 1, 2011.
79. Ralph A. Wolff, Commission Action Letter — La Sierra University, original document, July 5, 2011.
80. Larry Becker, WASC Issues Notice of Concern Following Special Visit, July 19, 2011.
81. Jack Boren, Lawsuit Filed by Three La Sierra University Employees Who Were Forced to Resign by the Board of Trustees Chair, original document, July 28, 2011.
82. Richard D. McCune, David C. Wright, Michelle M. Vercoski, Complaint for Money Damages and Injunctive Relief, original document, July 28, 2011.
83. Jared Wright, La Sierra University Employees File Suit, Spectrum blog, July 28, 2011.
84. Bonnie Dwyer, Misunderstandings Multiply, Spectrum Magazine, vol. 39, issue 3, August 2011.
85. Adventist Review staff, Church says La Sierra Employee’s
Lawsuit is ‘Without Merit’, Adventist Review, August 2, 2011.
86. David Olson, Riverside: Accrediting commission warns La Sierra University, The Press-Enterprise, August 3, 2011.
87. Associated Press, Seventh-Day Adventists Influence Over La Sierra University Threatens Accreditation, posted on CBS Los Angeles, August 4, 2011.
88. Bonnie Dwyer, The Church Responds to the LSU Employee Lawsuit and Notes about What Comes Next, Spectrum blog, August 4, 2011.
89. Jared Wright, Ricardo Graham Re-elected, But With Concerns Expressed, Spectrum blog, August 29, 2011. See also Jared Wright's comment here:
90. Demurrer to Plaintiffs' Complaint, Demurrer for PUC and NAD, original document, September 13, 2011.
91. Demurrer to Plaintiffs' Complaint, Demurrer for LSU, original document, September 13, 2011.
92. PUC and NAD’s Demurrer, original document, September 13, 2011.
93. Jack Boren, Terminated La Sierra University Employees' Counsel Responds to Defendents' Initial Court Filings, original document, September 14, 2011.
94. Alexander Carpenter, Church-hired Counsel Cites First Amendment Cover for La Sierra University Terminations, Spectrum blog, September 15, 2011.
95. David Olson, LA SIERRA: First Amendment cited in university lawsuit, The Press-Enterprise, September 19, 2011.
96. Ricardo Graham’s Motion to Strike, original document, September 22 2011.
97. Ricardo Graham’s Demurrer, original document, September 22, 2011.
98. A Response to the Joint Proposal, original document, October 5, 2011.
99. James Wilson, et al, Joint Proposal of individual La Sierra University Faculty and Trustees, original document, October 5, 2011.
100. Mark A. Kellner, At La Sierra, Biology Faculty Affirms Importance
of Teaching About Creation in Curriculum, Adventist News Network, October 5, 2011.
101. Bonnie Dwyer, La Sierra University Biology Faculty and Trustee Statement Affirmed by Church Leaders, Spectrum blog, October 6, 2011.
102. Plaintiffs Opposition to LSU Demurrer, original document, October 6, 2011.
103. Plaintiffs Opposition to PUC and NAD Demurrer, original document, October 6, 2011.
104. Plaintiffs' Opposition to LSU Motion to Strike, original document, October 6, 2011.
105. Plaintiffs' Opposition and Objection to Request for Judicial Notice, original document, October 6, 2011.
106. Larry Becker, Fall Seminar Supports Biology Students as they Navigate Issues of Faith and Science, The Recorder,  p. 31, vol. 109, issue 11, November 2009. Also available online:
107. Shane Hilde, correction, WikiTruth, original document, October 11, 2011.
108. Jared Wright, A Primer on the LSU-3 Lawsuit, Spectrum blog, October 24, 2011.
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