Vision and Scholarship

Vision and Scholarship

Last week President Kriegbaum said some nice things about my work at the university. I appreciate them very much, but I appreciate more the opportunity I have had to serve at Fresno Pacific University over the past three decades and still have to continue in the coming years as a professor. When I was younger, I remember saying to Teri “you’re not going to believe what they are going to let me do now!” (Of course I got a little wiser over time, and realized that “let me do” was not always an honor, but it was always interesting.)

We have a long way until June when I will begin a return to scholarship and teaching at Fresno Pacific, the reasons I entered this profession. My agenda is to move us through the initial stages of the strategic plan, and set us up for the next phase of this important effort. The strategic plan (as I do not tire of saying) lays out a vision for the future of FPU, and elaborates our mission of Christ-centered higher education.

I believe—along with those in FPU’s past who helped me envision what this university can be, as well as many today—that we have been called to a unique and inspiring mission to serve this very diverse region, and the world, to guide students to deeper understanding of themselves, their professional roles, their faith and how they can live and work in deeper, more ethical, more servant-oriented ways. Some will see this as an outgrowth of their faith in Christ, while others will learn new things about that faith or perhaps discover it for the first time. But all will have the opportunity to enter into the vision of the FPU form of education and what it can mean for the health, prosperity and wholeness of this endemically poor region.

We want to be one of the movers in the effort to spread the love of God in very practical ways, and to demonstrate that love by how we work and what we are as an institution and community. To be an institutional mover requires change, something difficult for universities, but we are getting used to it.

To see that vision become a reality, and to fulfill our mission as a university, requires also that we continue to develop our deepening work in scholarship. Scholarship allows us to teach with confidence and contribute to the growth of knowledge, to offer our students the most up-to-date thinking available and to continue to sharpen our own abilities and work as learners with our students. I am very happy to be able to return to that work. Scholarship is not a requirement, but a gift.

One indication of how we have been doing is the faculty bookshelf in the McDonald Hall Administration Suite. When we started collecting the works of our professors and administrators five years ago, we had an almost three-foot section of books. Now we are nearing six feet. The shelf includes (in no particular order) biblical studies, theology, Spanish literature, peacemaking and reconciliation, history, philosophy, psychology, education, special education, economics, community development, multicultural missions and education, and leadership, among others. Our faculty have served, taught and engaged in academic conferences and dialog all over the world: North America, South America, Europe, the Middle East, Africa, India, Russia and Southeast Asia. I often take volumes home to read and to gain a deeper understanding of just what we are up to. It is inspiring!

I am looking forward to the time to engage with energy in this work. A great future awaits us.


Steve Varvis