An Engaged Presence

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God sends his word to the earth in the form of a child to express his love for all. This gift of love gave us access to understanding God’s heart for relationship with all mankind. He sent his presence through Jesus the Christ to draw us into a kingdom where abides as Father. In the same way he gave the gift of his son, so the son sacrifices himself so that we might become children of God. This engaged presence of Jesus changed the world with his birth, death and resurrection. The Christmas story is all about God’s engaged presence in the earth. In all our service and gift giving, we should remember the eternal gift that we have received. This season should only remind us of what we celebrate every day of our lives. The precious gift of God’s presence through his son Jesus Christ. “He who knew no sin, became sin for us that we might become the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus (I Corinthians 5:21).” What greater gift could we receive from our loving Father?

We initiated reflections this year on “engaging the cultures and serving the cities” in the Central Valley. In many ways we are exploring how to mature an engaged presence in these communities. We have worked through a strategic plan. The FPU President’s Cabinet and President’s Council have established 10 strategic priorities to help us think institutionally and with the long view in mind. We should remind ourselves that the model for all we do is our Lord Jesus Christ, who came to serve and not to be served.

We just graduated a class of approximately 480 students this past Saturday. And our hopes are that they would would establish an engaged presence in their homes, on their jobs and throughout the Central Valley. They are the reflectors of our work and intentionality. We trust that many of our new alumni will carry a torch that brings hope into our communities and have the courage to risk what some might deem the impossible. We pray that their lives will demonstrate the integrative value of wisdom, knowledge and service to others.

The 10 strategic priorities provide a roadmap for facilitating an engaged presence. In previous Connections we shared the first six priorities. In this edition before the Christmas break, we wanted to remind you of the roadmap and review briefly—as promised, the last four of those priorities. The priorities are as follows, with the last four highlighted:

  1. Increase efficiency and effectiveness of academic & administrative governance (re-structure).
  2. Plan for financial stability.
  3. Develop an academic plan.
  4. Strengthen the links between main and satellite campuses (student identity).
  5. Identify cost and plan to address deferred maintenance.
  6. Design and initiate a comprehensive capital campaign to include: a

cultural and arts center, endowments, scholarships, deferred maintenance, infrastructure/technology, professional development and athletic, seminary and regional campus facilities. 

  1. Strengthen collaborations between the seminary and other academic programs.

Since the embedding of the seminary into the university, there has been some collaborative work, but less intentional design to ensure a robust synergy that energizes both the seminary and other academic programs. Collaborative efforts in operations, fund development and curricular innovation are the anticipated outcomes of this cooperative process. The distinctiveness of an embedded seminary can open opportunities to provide innovative programming and enhance the spiritual vitality of the university. Both are areas that have been identified as part of the vision of the university. Our challenge will be to maintain the distinctiveness of the seminary while broadening its integration throughout the university.

  1. Develop a collaborative governance model between faculty and staff.

Collaborative governance is a paradigm of partnership, in which all bodies represented at the table maintain a respect for the expertise each group brings to service. Clarifying the roles of administrative, staff and faculty in the decision-making processes is essential to building a productive community. Governance is more of a heart issue than a division of power. Our focus will always be our students, and our cooperative efforts will be to their benefit.

  1. Appointment and revision of a permanent provost’s position.

This priority has been accomplished through the appointment of the new provost/senior vice president for academic affairs Deborah Gayle Copeland, Ph.D. Copeland, an experienced provost, will start her tenure at FPU in mid-February. We are delighted to welcome a talented administrator who has lived and worked in the Valley, and is also committed to Christian higher education.

  1. Identify funding priorities for 2018-19.

The university is shifting its fiscal year to begin July 1 and end in June. The budgetary process will be launched much earlier and budgetary managers will be expected to prioritize areas for funding before final approval. The cabinet will set university-wide priorities based on the 10 strategic priorities listed above. We are asking departments to prepare their budgets with these priorities in mind.

FPU can cultivate and bolster an “engaged presence” in the Central Valley. We must be deliberate, purposeful and resolute to a sacrificial inconvenience that extends our learning milieus beyond our campuses. God has granted us the intellectual capital to take the “common and serve in uncommon ways.” So, in honor of this precious gift that came in the form of a child (Jesus our Lord); let us flourish in the good work of love, so that when others experience the fruit of our labor they will glorify the father in heaven.