Board of Trustees Welcome New Members, Commit to Center for the Arts

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The following is a guest post from Don Griffith, Chair, Fresno Pacific University Board of Trustees.

It is good to occasionally hear those who have gone before share their life story. Such stories can be encouraging and challenging, inspirational and instructive and can help us to be better grounded in our own faith or endeavor. Such was the case this past weekend during meetings of the Fresno Pacific University Board of Trustees.

At every board meeting we ask one trustee to share his or her “story,” which is generally a 5-10-minute presentation which often includes an introduction to their family of origin, their faith-journey and significant events or people in their life. This past weekend we had the privilege of hearing Eugene Enns share his story. Eugene is both a board member emeritus as well as a current active board member. Eugene’s father was intimately involved in the founding of the Pacific Bible Institute, the predecessor of Fresno Pacific University, in downtown Fresno. Consequently, Eugene has been involved with the mission of Fresno Pacific most of his life. He shared stories of personally working on restoring the seminary house after it was purchased, and of walking across the Fresno Pacific campus on sidewalks that “led to nowhere” in anticipation of future buildings at the end of those sidewalks. Eugene has been a faithful and valuable board member for over 30 years. As he was sharing his story I thought “this is what a life well-lived looks like.” Sometimes hearing from those who have gone before us provides us with a living example of a life of faithful service. Thank you Eugene Enns!

Highlights of our board meetings are as follows:

BOARD DEVELOPMENT

The board approved three new members. These three not only bring outstanding experience and expertise to the board, but each one contributes to its diversity. Linda Montemayor was the child of two immigrant parents; growing up she would often help them work the fields. She excelled in school and ultimately became a President’s Scholar at FPU, where she graduated summa cum laude. She then served as a fellow in the California State Senate before returning to FPU to earn her teaching credential. She now works as the principal of an elementary school in Exeter. Ron Smith earned his B.A. from UMass Amherst, his MBA from Cornell and his Ed.D. from Nova Southeastern University. In addition to serving on a number of boards and involvement in various civic endeavors, Ron is president of Sterling & Smith Funeral Homes. Ed Eng earned his MBA from CSU Fresno and serves as the vice chancellor for finance and administration for the State Center Community College District. Ed has some close ties to Fresno Pacific, as several of his family have attended here.

CENTER FOR THE ARTS

One hundred percent of the board members have made a personal financial commitment to the Center for the Arts. Not only that, but the board members collectively made commitments which meet the recommended level of board financial involvement to increase the probability of a successful fundraising campaign, according to the university’s advancement consultant. With that in mind, the board authorized (1) the university to move to the next (silent) phase of the campaign, which involves personal conversations with key friends of the university and (2) the board will continue working with the architect and builder on value engineering initiatives.

ACADEMIC & ADMINISTRATIVE

In addition to approving several faculty sabbaticals, the board approved a new theater arts major, subject to financial review. The board reviewed the enrollment numbers for fall 2016 as well as Full-Time Equivalents (FTEs) and their impact on the financial projections for this year. It was apparent that in some areas enrollment numbers are strong, but students are taking fewer units, which has an impact on FTEs and in turn on the financial projections. Administration is working to get more definitive numbers for this year and will continue to keep the board and campus informed. Going forward we will focus more attention on FTEs than we have in the past.

SEMINARY GOVERNANCE

The board took a very significant step toward empowering Fresno Pacific Biblical Seminary to pursue its mission more effectively. The motivation behind the new Seminary Governance Policy is that in the six years since the former Mennonite Brethren Biblical Seminary merged with Fresno Pacific University, various steps have been taken to integrate the seminary into the wider university. This experience led us to the conclusion that the most engaging and effective relationship between the two institutions will develop, not by recreating the seminary in the university’s image, but by empowering it to pursue its mission with a healthy degree of independence. Therefore, the board approved the new governance policy which will delegate certain responsibilities and authority to the Seminary Committee to carry out the mission of the seminary pursuant to applicable policies and budgets as adopted by the FPU Board of Trustees.

ONLINE EDUCATION

The board had previously adopted goals relative to significantly expanding online education. The Board Enrollment Management Committee chair reminded the board of the need for the university to pursue those goals aggressively and immediately. The board is fully committed to this strategic direction and expects the university to continue to identify program needs and develop necessary resources to support the goals already adopted by the board. Additionally, the board will expect the new president to continue to aggressively and tirelessly build on the work already done regarding the online education initiative.

I am very pleased at the actions taken by the board during these meetings, particularly with regard to the new members and the demonstration of commitment to the Center for the Arts. I am proud and humbled to serve with such a capable and engaged board of trustees, and I look forward to the board continuing to provide support, wise counsel and clear direction as we navigate the future together.