With an air of excitement, they began arriving as soon as the doors opened to the Riverside Convention Center on Oct. 3—around 600 guests altogether, anticipating the celebration of La Sierra University’s 100th birthday through stories of the past, recognitions, music, and fellowship.
La Sierra University’s Centennial Gala capped a year of celebrations as the university commemorated 100 years of operation in Riverside. Festivities launched on Feb. 15 with the dedication of a new campus sculpture titled “The Lost Sheep.” Special events during alumni weekend on April 29 and 30, which was themed “Celebrating a Century,” featured a banquet, Centennial Campus Walk, and fireworks show.
The October gala was anchored by the recognition of 100 Presidential Award honorees, the presentation of a newly published book on La Sierra’s history, and a historical overview of the life of the university. Classical pianist and renowned performing artist Alpin Hong riveted the audience, along with an appearance by operatic tenor and La Sierra alumnus Anthony León.
“There are so many people responsible for La Sierra's success over the decades,” noted La Sierra University President Joy Fehr in introducing the presidential award recipients. “Simply put, there are countless people who deserve public recognition and honor. Those of us who have found our lives changed by this institution are truly indebted to them.” Dozens of individuals were nominated from across the university’s history and included posthumous recognitions of historical figures.
Honorees included scholarship donor and Adventist education supporter Elsie Chan; class of 1958 alumnus and renowned contralto Del Delker; Charles Teel, former religion faculty member; school of religion alumnus and singer Patty Cabrera, Latin Grammy nominee, GMA Dove Awards nominee; Zapara School of Business alumnus Brian Wright, general manager of the NBA’s San Antonio Spurs; Seventh-day Adventist philanthropists Thaine B. Price and Tom and Vi Zapara; La Sierra University President Emeritus Larry Geraty; Frank Jobe, alumnus and celebrated sports orthopedic surgeon; 2021-22 Student Association President Lawrence Steven Dorsey III; and León, who performed for the gala audience.
Class of 1992 alumnus and Presidential Awardee George Bryson said that his grandfather Elmer Bryson also attended La Sierra and worked on the college dairy farm during the 1930s. “It was great to hear the history of the dairy farm; I’d heard so many of his stories,” Bryson commented. “I feel very connected to the community, so it was nice to be recognized.”
By Darla Martin Tucker
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