March 29, 2014

​Weniger Society Honors La Sierra Education Professor and Former Senator

, La Sierra University, University Relations

From a
statistical point of view, it was highly improbable that an in-depth,
comprehensive study on Seventh-day Adventist education would transpire, much
less lead to a PBS documentary on the matter.

And yet the four-year
CognitiveGenesis project, directed by La Sierra University education professor
Elissa Kido, surveyed nearly 52,000 K-12 students at 800 Adventist schools
around the United States, Canada and Bermuda. The results proved the
substantive benefits of an Adventist education and ultimately led to the
documentary, “The Blueprint: The Story of Adventist Education” airing on PBS
this April.

Kido noted the improbability of
such events, described their backstory, and showed a trailer of the PBS film
during a keynote address for the 2014 Charles E. Weniger Society Annual
Awards. The ceremony was held at Loma Linda University Church on Sat.,
Jan. 18 and included a concert by the renowned Wedgwood Trio with violinist
Christina Thompson. The society honored Kido along with La Sierra alumnus,
former California State Senator Bill Emmerson, for their contributions to their
communities, the church and broader world.

The Weniger Society also
posthumously honored Australian theologian and historian Arthur Patrick, noted
for his insight into denominational academic issues and for his significant
contributions to Avondale College. Over the course of 17 years his work there
included serving as director of the Ellen G. White/Seventh-day Adventist
Research Centre, and later as honorary senior research fellow. Patrick died
last year following a battle with cancer.

In addition to leading the
CognitiveGenesis research project, Kido directs the Center for Research on K-12
Adventist Education, or CRAE at La Sierra. Her background includes academic
administrative posts at several universities and colleges including St. John
Fisher College in Rochester, N.Y., and Webster University in St. Louis, Mo.

Kido’s academic career, which
includes degrees in English and biology and a doctorate from Boston University,
encompasses significant fundraising achievements. At St. John she secured a
$165,000 Xerox Corp. grant, and raised $1 million for the CognitiveGenesis
project at La Sierra.

“I’m deeply grateful and also
humbled” to receive the Weniger award, said Kido during her address. “This also
really honors Adventist education.”

Emmerson learned several months ago
that he had been selected for a Weniger award. “I was thrilled,” he said
following the ceremony. “I’d known Dr. Weniger my entire life. My father was
active with the society for years and so this was truly an honor.”

Emmerson resigned effective Dec. 1,
2013 from a nine-year career as a California state legislator. He now serves as
senior vice president handling state relations and advocacy for the California
Hospital Association in Sacramento. Previously he emulated his father’s path
and pursued a career in dentistry specializing in orthodontia. He attended La
Sierra University and graduated from the Loma Linda University School of
Dentistry in 1980.

During 26 years of private practice
in Hemet, Emmerson entered the world of legislation and politics by chairing
the California Dental Association’s Council on Legislation and its Political
Action Committee. In 2004 he was elected to the California State Assembly and
then to the California State Senate in 2010 during a special election. In the
senate, he continued his work on health policy as vice chair of the Budget,
Business and Professions, and Human Services committees, and the Budget
Subcommittee on Health and Human Services.

Charles Weniger was a long-time
friend of Bill Emmerson’s parents, Clinton and Patricia Emmerson. Clinton
Emmerson, along with the Congressman Jerry Pettis and John Osborn founded the
Weniger Society in 1974, 10 years after Weniger’s death.

Weniger, a beloved Seventh-day
Adventist educator known by many as “Uncle Charlie,” served as an English professor
and later as dean of the Seventh-day Adventist Theological Seminary in
Washington D.C. and Michigan from 1948 to 1961. He was known for his kindness,
expertise, broad professional influence and dedication to excellence. The
society was founded for the purposes of honoring those who exemplify Weniger’s
humility, character and commitment. Each year the Weniger Society selects three
individuals as recipients of the Weniger medallion.

The society this year also embarked
on a scholarship fundraising effort toward jointly granting an annual Weniger
Fellows Student Scholarship for students attending accredited North American
Seventh-day Adventist colleges and universities. The scholarship is matched or
exceeded by the student’s school.

Weniger scholarship recipients must
demonstrate excellence in spirituality, academics, civic service and
leadership. The first nine scholarship winners from the following schools were
announced during the ceremony: Andrews University, Adventist University of
Health Sciences, La Sierra University, Loma Linda University, Pacific Union
College, Southern Adventist University, Southwestern Adventist University,
Union College and Walla Walla University.

About La Sierra University

La Sierra University, an
institution nationally acclaimed for its diverse campus and its service to
others, offers a transformational experience that lasts a lifetime.

U.S. News & World Report for
six years named La Sierra University the most racially diverse university in
the western United States. In December 2008 the
Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching included La Sierra on its
2008 Community Engagement Classification lists consisting of 119 colleges and
universities around the United States. In 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011 and
2012 the Corporation for National and Community Service announced La Sierra’s
inclusion in the President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll
awards. The awards include the prestigious 2013 Presidential Award, the highest
honor a college or university can receive for its commitment to volunteering,
service-learning, and civic engagement. The awards recognize La Sierra’s
students for providing thousands of hours of service including international
economic development projects by La Sierra’s World Cup-winning Enactus team,
and community projects through La Sierra’s campus-wide, Service-Learning

The Seventh-day Adventist
denomination established La Sierra University in 1922 on acreage formerly part
of the Rancho La Sierra Mexican land grant. Today the institution provides more
than 120 bachelors, masters and doctoral degrees for more than 2,000 students.
Programs are offered in the Tom and Vi Zapara School of Business, the School of
Education, the H.M.S. Richards Divinity School, the College of Arts and
Sciences and in the Evening Adult Degree Program.

“To Seek, To Know, and To Serve” is
the key to the mission that drives La Sierra University, with all areas of
campus encouraging students to develop a deeper relationship with God.