Trusting the Process

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Trust the process. It’s a common refrain in the theory and practice of organizational and personal change or decision-making. Often there appears to be inadequate progress toward the desired conditions. Things seem to be moving too slowly to get where we need to be by the time we need to be there. It may even feel like we are retrogressing instead of moving forward. But if the change or decision process is well-designed, and if all the participants play their roles appropriately, we can safely trust the process to produce the desired outcome.

As is normally the case, Fresno Pacific has numerous planning and change processes happening simultaneously. A key responsibility of the FPU Board of Trustees and the administration is the coordination of these ongoing processes. One of the most important is the plan for presidential transition. The plan was developed during the spring of 2015 by a team of faculty, staff, board members and administrators. It was officially approved as policy by the board at its meeting on June 6, 2015. It describes the principles that guide the process and the sequence of actions. The process fits a typical one-year search and transition process, but the timing can be compressed or expanded as needed. Here is the version of the timeline the board is working on for the transition to the next president of Fresno Pacific:

Fresno Pacific University

Presidential Transition Timeline

  • September 2015
    • Selected trustees screen search consultants
    • Release draft transition timetable
  • October 2015
    • Board executive committee chooses the search consultant
    • Search consultant is retained and begins service
  • February 2016
    • Search consultant trains the trustees at the board retreat
  • March-May 2016
    • Develop search materials including the institutional situation, position description and presidential qualifications
  • June 2016
    • Board appoints presidential search committee
  • June 2016-Feb. 2017
    • Search committee with support from counsel identifies, evaluates and ranks the top candidates
  • February 2017
    • Board appoints president and the appointment is publicized
  • July 2017
    • President begins service
  • October 2017
    • Presidential inauguration

The process is titled “normal” because it describes the steps of a typical presidential search and hiring process that would take about a year. The trustees will likely review the presidential transition process and the timeline at the October 2015 meeting and at each subsequent meeting until the next president is in place. The board-approved timeline will supersede the times stated in the normal transition process document. Because it is a public process that we are all trusting, any modifications the board makes will appear on the president’s web page and employees will be notified.

It is assumed that I have given the board a standing resignation and have agreed to serve until the board officially accepts the resignation, presumably in conjunction with the hiring of the next president. Thus it is also assumed that the first six steps of the process have already been completed, that action number seven is in process and that action number eight will be completed by the October 2015 full board meeting.

This clarification should provide the answer to the question I get asked more often than any other: how long will I serve as president? Probably until the summer of 2017, but it could be sooner, and if no suitable successor is found, at the board’s discretion I will continue to serve until my successor assumes the presidency. In any case, the board expects us to continue pursuing the strategic plan with vigor, and the board will also look to the new leadership to support the existing strategic plan as well.

Along with everyone else associated with Fresno Pacific University—trustees, faculty, staff, administrators, students, friends, supporters and the leadership of the Pacific District Conference of Mennonite Brethren Churches—I am prayerfully and confidently trusting the process.

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FPU employees can find the transition process on the president’s page of the intranet with the title transition-normal-6-6-15. It has 30 numbered paragraphs in sequence, including a section of seven “Guiding Principles.” Other friends of FPU can obtain a copy by email fpupres@fresno.edu.