Quick History – La Sierra University

By Philip Falcone |

Founded in 1922, La Sierra University has seen many changes throughout its 100-year history, particularly in its early days. First as La Sierra Academy and then, five years later, adding the Norman School to its moniker as a campus that offered education courses for future teachers. As each batch of several years went by the college saw a change to its name and/or its scope. For example, in 1927 it was known as Southern California Junior College, then La Sierra College in 1939, and La Sierra Preparatory School broke off as its own institution in 1940. This preparatory school remains today nearby the university campus and is a common school where students attend prior to attendance at La Sierra University—keeping the consecutive teachings of the Seventh-Day Adventist church in students’ education from elementary school through the college years.

In 1946 the college gained its first accreditation as a liberal arts college. Twenty years later it changed names again to merge with Loma Linda University before separating from Loma Linda and forming the stand-alone private university that is known today, soon reaching 32 years of such independence.

In 2000, the university’s acres of dairy and farmland were sold off to create a housing development that would place the university directly into a residential area, much like the locations of Riverside’s three other institutions of higher education. Because of this sale, the university is a form of a “downtown” for the La Sierra neighborhood which surrounds it. This area was incorporated into the City of Riverside in 1964 which made Riverside a city overflowing with educational opportunities and institutions—something that is uncommon in many cities.

Today, known for their advanced programs in the arts—particularly the musical performing arts, anthropology—with a remarkable early biblical artifact collection, and high-tech farming, La Sierra University has changed in many ways but all of which have led it to being a leader in education on Riverside’s western edge.