We’re working toward it

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Two weeks ago in this newsletter I outlined some of the immediate issues facing FPU. Today I’d like to get beyond what we’re working on and take a look at what we’re working toward.

Integration of Faith and Learning. The work of a university is scholarship, teaching and learning.  We form a community of scholars and students, with the special task, much needed in our world, of gaining, applying and creating knowledge. This takes time, energy, patience, the willingness to take risks—it is never very efficient. While we go through this transition, we will keep focusing on the work we love, the students we teach and the communities, schools, churches, business and other organizations we serve. Our work includes worship and the integration of faith and learning. Karen Crozier, Ph.D., director of faculty development (among other efforts), has scheduled six seminars on the integration of faith and learning using the Christian spiritual traditions identified by Richard Foster in his Streams of Living Waters. I attempted to outline what these traditions might look like in the classroom on my FPU blog page. This is just one way to think about how we as a university might address the multiple denominational, theological and spiritual traditions represented by our students and faculty.

Shared Governance. In times of change, and especially the drastic change the FPU community has experienced, the question of “governance” comes up. Governance is different from both leadership and management, though these feed into it. Shared governance is the pattern by which the bodies within the university—the faculty or the board, for instance—with particular responsibilities, knowledge and competence recognize the responsibilities, knowledge and competence of other bodies. In that recognition they share the authority to speak, develop policy, deliberate and recommend or act on particular questions or initiatives. Some think shared governance is a democratic process, but this is not how it is usually practiced, except perhaps within bodies (the Senate votes, for instance). Some think of shared governance as occasionally asking advice, but that doesn’t get to the depth of it. Shared governance is difficult, time consuming, costly, requires trust and good will, and is extraordinarily effective when it works well.

As we work through a time of dramatic change, our understanding and practice of shared governance is tested and by some found wanting; calls are made to reexamine how we work. In some cases, shared responsibility is suspended for particular decisions that must be made in decisive and timely ways. Sometimes those responsible for the decisions can not disclose all the information surrounding their action. This is not comfortable. As stability returns our normal pattern of shared governance returns. Strong institutions weather these periods, often with some turmoil. But graciousness returns as we recognize the need for and the positive effect of those decisions. I describe shared governance more fully on my blog, Shared Governance: Start Here, with some notes on how it has been practiced at FPU.

October Board Meeting Highlights.

  • Approved tuition and fees for 2015-2016 (specifics forthcoming).
  • Approved acquisition of homes and condominiums in select sections of the immediate neighborhood and capital renewal spending, subject to certain financial conditions, in partnership with the FPU Foundation and the Mennonite Brethren Foundation.
  • Approved a B.S. in pharmaceutical science and an M.A. in STEM education, pending Faculty Senate approval.
  • Accepted the 2014 fiscal year audit, and authorized a search for an auditor with extensive higher education experience.
  • Instructed the administration to establish a broadly representative taskforce on campus security.
  • Approved the creation of a Campus Master Planning committee (buildings, use of interior and exterior space, etc.) with specific composition including members of the board, administration, faculty, staff, student body, advancement, and the seminary.
  • Received training for WSCUC (WASC) accreditation report and visit, and NCAA compliance.

Concluding Thoughts. We are blessed in so many ways—by our students and their energy, the commitment and experience of our staff and administration, the thoughtfulness and engagement of our faculty, the support of our alumni and donors and the prayers of friends near and around the world. It is hard not to be to be encouraged as we move forward! And thank you to all for your support of the university at the installation of President Richard Kriegbaum on October 24. You can see it on the FPU website: Installation. (The ceremony starts after the video has run for two and a half minutes—please be patient.)

There’s a lot coming up at Fresno Pacific. Check out all the events at events.fresno.edu/

Steve Varvis