Last Friday’s Spring 2016 Commencement ceremony again filled Selland Arena with 7,000 people celebrating the successful conclusion of the long and demanding process of earning a degree from Fresno Pacific University. Our fiscal year ends on April 30, so it synchronizes with our academic cycle (and gives the auditors a head start on having a report ready for the October board meeting). Compared with the long years of intensive learning, the couple hours of the commencement service seem like a relatively short time of joyful closure.
The week immediately after commencement is marked by professors racing to evaluate student work and turn in grades by the deadline, while staff clean up everything from dorm rooms to email servers. It’s a long hard, week, but on Tuesday we took a short break. Faculty, staff, coaches and administrators gathered in Shehadey Dining Hall for a time of grateful recognition for what God did among us during the previous year at the annual Faculty Staff Appreciation Luncheon.
Every healthy organization maintains a balance of long-term and short-term employees. We need both, so we recognize those who have served FPU a long time, and we also publicly thank God for those new colleagues who have finished the special challenge of their first year or two at Fresno Pacific.
We also give special recognition to a few selected employees who have provided particularly faithful and effective service with the President’s Distinguished Service Awards.
One Distinguished Service Award (DSA) was given to a member of the facilities team who in his first five years at Pacific truly has modeled the role of a willing and effective team member; he’s one of the hardest-working people on campus. He stepped outside his normally assigned duties to work on special needs like rebuilding the Larry Ecklund pond that is tucked among the trees south of AIMS Hall. He gave the same kind of extra attention to other areas of the main campus. He makes complicated and potentially chaotic office moves seem orderly and almost fun. And the rest of the miracle is that he manages and mentors student workers to get it all done. He represents our Lord with a quick smile and a loving spirit. His work ethic and performance standards call all of us to the very best stewardship we can offer. We thank and recognize Ken Rodgers, building maintenance.
The staff at our regional campuses work long hours at times that are determined by the needs of adult learners who attend class at night. This year a DSA went to a woman who focuses her passion for service on everyone and every role in her life: family, coworkers, community, church, students, leading, teaching, recruiting, managing and solving problems. From helping a particular student to teaching a class or cheering on the Sunbird baseball team, she is guided by her faith and fully engaged in whatever God gives her to do. From the Visalia Regional Campus, we thank and recognize Raquel Garcia, Visalia Campus assistant director of community development.
The faculty DSA went to a much-loved and greatly admired member of the School of Business. He is an extremely creative teacher who sets high standards for the students by modeling high standards in everything he does. The fame he enjoys is fully justified. He mentors students and colleagues and has served on significant committees, most especially on the WASC Review Committee. And he ventured to Vietnam with Ken Friesen and a group of students studying culture, politics and economic development. For enormous skill and contagious energy, we thank and recognize Jim Bryan, Ed.D, associate professor of business administration: management.
Excellent administrators at a Christ-centered university must demonstrate a combination of many abilities: leading, managing, listening, deciding, encouraging, correcting, evaluating, planning and always doing everything in a way that gets the desired outcomes and also aligns with policies, laws and regulations, as well as the faith grounding of the institution and the church. This year the DSA for an administrator was given to a person who not only managed Fresno Pacific Biblical Seminary with educational creativity and caring compassion, but also helped produce enrollment growth and positive budgetary outcomes. A thinker, preacher, teacher and source of wisdom and courage for all of us, we thank and recognize Valerie Rempel, Ph.D., dean of the seminary.
And so the 2015-2016 fiscal and academic year ended well at Fresno Pacific University because of exceptional performance by exceptional servants of Jesus Christ like these. These awards simply represent the greatness of the combined effort of every employee of Fresno Pacific. For us to succeed in our mission as a Christian university, each person must serve in this short term on earth in a way that merits the distinguished service award that God himself will someday give to faith and wise servants of the king. That is the short and the long of it.