He will serve while the board initiates a comprehensive search to fill that position.
Published on: 10-26-2023
The La Sierra University Board of Trustees on Wednesday, October 18, selected former higher education administrator and retired accrediting body leader Richard Osborn to serve as the university’s interim president while the board initiates a comprehensive search for a long-term president.
Osborn, who lives in the Inland Empire region in California, United States, officially began his presidential duties on Monday, October 23. He comes to the post following the September 17 resignation of Joy Fehr from La Sierra’s presidency. La Sierra University Provost April Summitt has functioned as acting president since that time.
“The board enthusiastically welcomes Osborn into this critical role and wholeheartedly supports his leadership as he helps guide La Sierra University forward and continues to build upon its many strengths,” Bradford C. Newton, university board chair, said. “His extensive background and achievements throughout the world of higher education and the wisdom he brings to the presidency will truly benefit the university and we are grateful. We also thank Dr. Summitt for her commitment to the institution and her excellent work shouldering the difficult task of filling dual posts. We are truly thankful for her dedicated service as acting president and her willingness to step into this role during these past weeks.”
Summitt said that it was “an honor” to serve La Sierra University in that additional administrative capacity, and that she was grateful for the opportunity. “I look forward to working closely with Dr. Osborn on the many new initiatives taking place at this school, and to following his leadership as we serve our campus family and community to the best of our abilities going forward.”
Osborn comes to the interim role with an extensive background in Seventh-day Adventist secondary and higher education as a teacher, professor, and administrator. His experiences include a total of 12 years as vice president for education with both the Columbia Union Conference of Seventh-day Adventists and with the church’s North American Division, both based in Maryland. He served as president of Pacific Union College from 2001 to 2009, and for the following 10 years functioned as vice president for the WASC Senior College and University Commission during which time he oversaw the accreditation eligibility process for 50 institutions, served as liaison to 45 senior colleges and universities, and conducted international briefings.
Osborn’s numerous past board memberships and activities include service on the board for Kettering Medical Center and Kettering College in Ohio. He has also served as chair for the Association of Independent California Colleges & Universities, as executive director and first president of the Association of Adventist Colleges & Universities, and as president and treasurer for the Council for American Private Education.
Currently he serves as a board member with several educational institutions including Loma Linda University Health and the Chicago School of Professional Psychology. He is also a member of the North American Division Higher Education Collaboration Task Force and is president of the Charles E. Weniger Foundation. He has consulted with numerous educational institutions around the country and overseas and is helping Qatar organize its first higher education accreditation agency.
Osborn holds an M.A. and a Ph.D. in history from the University of Maryland and attended the Institute for Educational Management at Harvard University. He attended La Sierra University during his freshman year between 1965-66 when the institution was known as La Sierra College.
He has published extensively in professional journals and is a sought-after speaker. In 2009, Osborn was recognized with a Charles Elliott Weniger Award for Excellence for his contributions to Seventh-day Adventist education and representation of its ideals.
In addition to his past attendance, Osborn also has longstanding family connections to La Sierra University, a history which further inspired his acceptance of the interim president’s post. His parents graduated from La Sierra’s business program and his mother’s father, Walter Lawson, operated the college press. Later, Richard and Norma Osborn’s son Trevan Osborn earned an MBA from La Sierra University.
“I look forward to working with the La Sierra University campus during this transition time,” Osborn said. “Although I am enjoying a very fulfilling retirement, including service on six university boards and consulting with 28 universities over the last three and a half years, the call to help contribute service to this special institution transcends personal comfort.”
“My sense of loyalty grows out of my parents’ graduation from La Sierra before and after World War II when I was born at Loma Linda after a frantic drive from La Sierra at a time when no freeways existed,” he said. “My brother-in-law, Larry Geraty, gave distinguished service as president for 14 years. It’s this sense of calling that led to our acceptance of this position for a few months. Along with most faith-based universities, the challenges are enormous but can be answered through creative solutions backed up by prayer.”