Q & A with the President

Q & A with the President

André Stephens, Ph.D. – Fresno Pacific University President

FPU’s new president is all about getting to know people and building relationships, so we wanted you to get to know him a bit better through this casual Q & A.

Why did you choose to come to FPU?   

Because I still believe in the transformative power of Christian higher education. I believe lives are being formed and transformed by the Holy Spirit in our classrooms and Zoom rooms with caring faculty and staff investing in the lives of individuals who choose to enroll here. I want to be a part of the thriving that happens through the holistic education we provide.

What is your impression of Fresno and the Valley so far?

We came in the middle of the summer, so it was extremely hot. I stayed inside mostly 🙂. I’ve met many educational and civic leaders in the city and Valley, and they are all very helpful, supportive and have a posture of collaboration which is wonderful. There is much opportunity for higher education. It’s also more of a foodie town than I realized.

What do you like most about FPU so far?

The people! Students, faculty and staff have been amazing.

How did you meet your wife, Beth?

Beth and I met in college. We were introduced at the end of our freshman year and were good friends through our sophomore year—hanging out in the same friend group. We started dating our junior year and got married about six months after we graduated from college.

Tell us a little about your family.

Beth and I have three young adult kids. Our daughter (and youngest of the three) Victoria is with us in Fresno and is hoping to attend FPU next year. Our sons are in their mid- to late 20s and are in So Cal. They are engineers and both work for a company that manufactures insulin pumps for individuals with Type I diabetes.

Do you have any hobbies? What do you like to do in your spare time?

Yes, my hobbies include: reading, walking and spending time with family. When I have time, I like to watch a movie. My daughter and I enjoy watching the TV show Amazing Race together, too.

What is your favorite movie? Netflix series?

Oh my! Christmas movie: ELF; regular movies: Glory with Denzel Washington and Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner with Sidney Portier. As for a Netflix series, I enjoyed The Queen’s Gambit.

What is your favorite music group?

I’m a child of the 70s and 80s disco (Is it okay to say that?) and good worship music. I’ve enjoyed Maverick City.

What famous person would you most like to meet? (dead or alive)

Martin Luther King, Jr.

What is your favorite vacation spot? What was your best vacation?

Anywhere with my family. We did a cross-country road trip a number of years ago that was memorable.

What is your favorite food? Is there any food you don’t like or won’t eat?

Among my favorites: carnitas, a good burger, a Costco churro. I like fish, but don’t like shellfish, sushi or asparagus…

What book are you reading? Do you have a favorite author?

I just re-read parts of Thriving in Leadership: Strategies for Making a Difference in Christian Higher Education; I have received a couple books from FPU faculty that I plan to read during the Christmas break. I also have had Dr. Kriegbaum’s, Leadership Prayers book on my desk for years and read prayers from his book regularly. I enjoy Mike Mason as an author and Patrick Lencioni.

What is your favorite Bible verse?

I don’t have a favorite verse, but several have been meaningful to me in recent years: Acts 17:26-28 and I Peter 4:7-8.

Do you have a favorite sports team?

Definitely: L.A. Dodgers!! And the FPU Sunbirds!!

How did a Christian college education change you?

My journey in higher education started as an undergraduate student at Biola University. I had a rough transition to that private, faith-based institution. However, as a student-athlete, I found a sense of belonging that cemented my desire to remain at the institution after initially desiring to transfer. It was through the varied academic and co-curricular experiences that my life was truly transformed. I was sitting in a chapel service one morning and the speaker talked about God being kind, gracious and loving. Until that time, I was afraid of God. I thought he got the world started and was just there to punish me when I did something wrong. However, my life was truly transformed by this “new” truth, and I continued to grow in my faith and understanding of God. Christian college changed my perspective on who God is. It is because of those experiences that I have committed my professional life to serving Christian higher education as an administrator, educator and advocate.

Read more about President André Stephens, Ph.D., and his leadership style in the article from the latest issue of Pacific magazine.

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Sena Ali

Sena Ali