Photos: Pacific Union College Demonstration

Many of my happiest memories are from my time at Pacific Union College (6th thru 12th grade). There would not be such intense conflict if people didn’t love so much.

It is a very good sign for Adventism’s future that Adventists fight so fiercely over what often looks silly to outsiders. If SDAs didn’t care so much about their church, they’d be in decline like the Anglicans and the other mainstream Protestant churches. Adventism is high-intensity religion, like Orthodox Judaism. It takes over your whole life.


Pacific Union College, a small Seventh-day Adventist school, is in the midst of a debate about academic freedom after a controversial psychology professor said he was going to be fired.

About 60 PUC students marched through the Angwin campus on May 4 in defense of the professor. Heather Knight, college president, met with the demonstrators outside her office, led them in prayer, and agreed to hold a town hall meeting the next day that was attended by about 250 students.

A professor at Loma Linda University writes: My perplexity and dismay about is happening at PUC increases with each day and every bit of news. I guess this is because my own experience has been so different.
I was once invited to speak somewhere only to have the one who invited me withdraw the invitation because his or her administrator did not approve. We both laughed about it and that was it.
Also, twice my administrators have asked me not to participate in major academic conferences where I thought I could make positive contributions because they thought that my doing so would intensely disturb one or more of our constituencies. Although I was disappointed, I did not feel abused. After all, they did have a better overview of the situation as a whole. My contributions were published anyway without administrative disapproval.
Time, place and circumstance matter in these things as in all.
I don’t know how many denominational committees and commissions on which I have not been invited to serve even though I was qualified because someone thought I was not sufficiently traditional. This gave me time to do other things.
On the other hand, my Dean defends me when I don’t even know it. His response when I once thanked him was: “I’ll let you know when I think the criticism has merit; otherwise, it is my job to protect you so that you can do your work and that’s what I’m doing.”
Once, when I was involved in a controversial publication, my Dean preempted criticism by first informing the Board of Trustess and inviting them to read it even though he knew, he said, that a number of them would disagree.
Also, I have been told by one of our university’s lawyers that protecting my tenure sometimes increases their workload. “No problem,” he responded when I thanked him. “Happy to do it!”
Courts are adversarial and rightly so. By definition, colleges are collegial. On such campuses, everyone gives and takes in hopes of serving the common good. Nobody always gets his or her own way. Not even the President!
I wish that from my great distance I could see more collegiality at PUC. Maybe I would if I were closer.

About Luke Ford

I've written five books (see My work has been covered in the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and on 60 Minutes. I teach Alexander Technique in Beverly Hills (
This entry was posted in Adventist, PUC. Bookmark the permalink.