From News Releases, 31 May 2019 | Following a search process over recent months, the La Sierra University board voted on Wednesday to elect Dr. Joy Fehr as the new president to take the helm as Dr. Randal Wisbey enters retirement at the end of June. She has been provost since 2016 following one year as associate provost. She arrived at La Sierra University from Burman University, where she served as vice president for academic administration from 2010 to 2015. La Sierra is one of two Adventist universities in southern California and Burman is the only Adventist university in Canada.
The presidential search committee formed in February following Wisbey’s announcement of his retirement the preceding month. The committee, chaired by university trustee and Pacific Union Conference director of education Dr. Berit von Pohle, consisted of faculty, staff, student, and alumni representatives, members of the board of trustees, and two non-voting members. The search process began with stakeholder focus group meetings through which candidate selection criteria were developed. A job posting distributed through various media around North America garnered 32 candidates, including several from other countries.
Wisbey, after 12 years in leadership, stated, “Dr. Joy Fehr is an outstanding leader. Our university has been blessed by her clear-eyed vision, her passionate support of our students, faculty and staff, and her commitment evidenced by embracing our La Sierra story. I believe she will be instrumental in guiding the university into an ever-expanding role of influence and success.”
In her current role as provost, Fehr created the Senior Leadership Team of academic leaders and university executives. The group has created a roadmap for growing the university’s enrollment and increasing net tuition revenue over the next three to five years. In support of the team’s work, she has led in the creation of the Strategic Enrollment Planning Council through which programs will be added and current programs evaluated based on a data-informed process.
Fehr’s roles at Burman University, previously known as Canadian University College, included serving as dean of its arts division and as an award-winning English professor. Prior to her academic career, she served as co-owner and vice president of Fehr West Industries Ltd., a mechanical mobile repair business, where she was responsible for key business decisions.
Her contributions to Adventist higher education include continued service on the denomination’s North American Division Higher Education Collaboration Taskforce, continued membership with the Association of Adventist Academic Administrators, and upcoming service in January 2020 with an Adventist Accrediting Association visiting team. She has held many roles in Adventist Church service from church board membership to Vacation Bible School leadership, to women’s retreat speaker and La Sierra University chapel preacher, to church elder.
Fehr holds undergraduate and graduate degrees from the University of Calgary, including a Ph.D. in English literature. She lives in Riverside with her husband, Cornelius. In response to the news of her appointment Fehr commented, “As La Sierra University moves into the future, I look forward to discovering with the campus community how we can continue to ensure our students are best served, best educated and best prepared to be positive change agents—the conduits of God’s grace in their worlds.”
The photo of Dr. Joy Fehr was supplied by La Sierra University.