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Loma Linda University Health's Kent Hansen Receives Honorary Doctorate


receiving honorary degree

Loma Linda University Health General Counsel Kent Hansen, a La Sierra University alum, accepts an honorary Doctor of Laws degree from La Sierra President Randal Wisbey along with LSU Provost Joy Fehr during the university’s June 18, 2017, graduation. Photo by Natan Vigna

In Riverside, California, Loma Linda University Health General Counsel Kent Hansen, an attorney and La Sierra University alum, was honored during La Sierra’s commencement on June 18 for his significant impact and dedication throughout years of service to Seventh-day Adventist higher education.

La Sierra University President Randal Wisbey presented Hansen with an honorary Doctor of Law honoris causa during La Sierra’s 2017 graduation ceremony. In introducing Hansen, Wisbey noted his years of service as counsel to both Loma Linda and La Sierra universities, and cited Hansen’s long-standing family connections to La Sierra — Hansen’s mother, at age 13, was a member of the first class of academy students in 1922, the first year of operation for the school that would become La Sierra University. Wisbey added that Hansen’s wife, Patricia, also holds two degrees from La Sierra.

“Kent, for 46 years you have been a part of this family,” said Wisbey. “Through your multitude of skills and commitments, you have helped to create a safe environment for the board, the faculty, the administration, and the students to do their best work. We are truly grateful.”

As general counsel of Loma Linda University Health, Hansen oversees the 30 corporations that comprise LLUH which functions as one of only 125 academic health centers in the United States. Loma Linda University Health employs some 16,000 people and annually educates some 4,500 students in the health sciences. Hansen is the principal architect of the institution’s system of governance and organization.

Hansen graduated from La Sierra in 1975 when the campus was part of Loma Linda University and earned a Juris Doctor from Willamette University in 1979. He served as associate dean of students and university counsel for Loma Linda University from 1979 to 1982 when he joined a Corona law firm. In 1988, he became a named partner of that firm, Clayson, Mann, Yaeger & Hansen where, as a managing attorney, he focused on educational law, healthcare law, nonprofit corporate law, and employment defense.

He has spent time in the classrooms of both La Sierra and Loma Linda teaching courses ranging from California history to school law. He is currently an assistant professor at Loma Linda University School of Dentistry where he teaches a required course in dentistry and the law.

Hansen has maintained his connection with La Sierra over the years in various ways, including serving as university legal counsel through his law firm.

“The university faculty has always been strong individually and as a community,” said Hansen in a prepared statement. “They taught me the meaning and importance of academic freedom and integrity, the role of faculty governance, and the importance of research in the life of the university. These lessons have guided my own service as counsel for private and public institutions of higher education.”

He continued, “The realities of racial and gender diversity learned on the La Sierra campus influenced my drafts of the first affirmative action plans for Loma Linda University and Andrews University, and inspired my personal and professional commitments to fight racial and gender discrimination whenever I’ve encountered it.”

As Hansen received the honorary doctorate, La Sierra University’s trustees and vice presidents seated on the stage stood in an ovation to Hansen, a tribute that deeply moved him, he said.

“I am truly blessed and grateful to receive this honor,” commented Hansen. “Receiving the honorary doctorate from the university where my life’s work was inspired and whose mission I served for 38 years as counsel and advocate, speaks to me that my professional efforts have been worthy of the client and the cause and have been appreciated by those who I have served to the best of my ability with passion.”

“This award directly stems from my undergraduate years on the La Sierra campus,” he said. “In many ways, I found my true self when I commenced college there. Mentors encouraged me to pursue higher education law and I found my career passion in representing the interests of private faith-based colleges and universities, particularly those of my Seventh-day Adventist Church.”