A New Season Brings the Promise of Possibilities

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Guest column by Donald Griffith, chair, Fresno Pacific University Board of Trustees

Life seems to have seasons and cycles with one season naturally leading to the next, often bringing with it something new and different—and occasionally something completely unexpected. While these transitions may leave one wistfully remembering the past with fondness, they also bring the promise of new possibilities. Such was the process the Fresno Pacific University Board of Trustees went through this past week as we reflected on a number of seasons that are coming to a close, and discussing the possibilities of what may lay ahead.

The June board meeting was the last one for Richard Kriegbaum, Ph.D., as the President of Fresno Pacific University. After over two and one-half years of faithful service, this season is coming to a close for Rich. Board members took time on Friday night to host a dinner in his honor, and to show our appreciation we presented a gift to Rich and Peggi: enrollment in the 2018 Christian Writers Conference at Mt. Hermon. The gift was completely paid for out of donations from the trustees.

Another season came to a close at the conclusion of the June board meeting as Eugene Enns retired from the board. Eugene has been a strong supporter and advocate of Fresno Pacific for some time, serving on the board for over 33 years! Not only that, but Eugene represents the second generation of service to the university, as his father also served as a trustee. Eugene was generally the most prepared board member at every meeting, bringing with him the wisdom and perspective that years of serving on the board can provide. He will be sorely missed as he was always a strong voice.

Finally, the meeting represented the final time Student Government Association (SGA) President Nick Valla would serve as the student representative on the board. Nick has been a positive addition to the board discussions and will be missed.

While the board spent some time recognizing the contributions of those moving on and focusing on a season which is coming to an end, we can’t help but be excited about the future. Obviously, our new President, Joseph Jones, Ph.D., begins serving the university on July 1 and the board is eager to work with him as he provides new vision, energy and leadership to the FPU community. Additionally, the board elected and welcomed its newest trustee, James Parks. James is a long-time Fresno resident, a graduate of the Harvard Law School and an active pastor in the Fresno area. The addition of James means the last four new trustees have all added to the diversity of the board. The board also recognized and welcomed the incoming SGA President, Daniel Sepeda.

Looking forward, there is much to be excited about: the board approved the naming of the proposed Center for the Arts facility in recognition of the lead gift already having been committed to the university by a key donor (an announcement will be forthcoming at the appropriate time); the board approved a new traditional undergraduate Bachelor of Science in Nursing program—subject to final review of the projections (the projections and impact of this program look so promising the board wanted confirmation of the numbers); and a 2017-18 university budget of $59.8 million was reviewed and approved. Additionally, the board directed a review of existing programs and teaching loads to ensure that the university continues to offer programs that are relevant, possess academic excellence and are operated in a fiscally sound manner.

The board approved a number of faculty for status change or for promotion:

  • Jon Clark, DSW (social work), status change from limited term appointment to continuing status track
  • Robin Perry, Ed.D. (education), to continuing status
  • James Van Slyke, Ph.D. (psychology), to associate professor and continuing status
  • Sandie Woods, Ed.D. (liberal studies), to associate professor and continuing status
  • Peter Smith, Ph.D. (peacemaking and conflict studies), to associate professor and continuing status
  • Darren Duerksen, Ph.D. (intercultural studies), to associate professor and continuing status
  • Sylvia Kim, D.B.A. (accounting), to associate professor and continuing status
  • Cynthia McGrady, Ph.D. (marriage and family therapy), to associate professor and continuing status

While the changing landscape of Christian higher education in California continues to present challenges, I think the future of Fresno Pacific University has never been brighter. We are on the cusp of a “new season” under new leadership and the board of trustees is engaged and asking the hard questions, expecting solutions and plans that are strategic and position the university to thrive. The board recognizes the sacrifices of staff, faculty and administration and is committed to leading with integrity; keeping our commitments to one another (past and future); and acting in a manner that is trustworthy and builds confidence. Together, we can confidently and boldly look forward to a new season in which FPU thrives in every respect as we continue to deliver relevant programming and academic excellence.