Presidential Priorities Report

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In mid-August the FPU President’s Cabinet and President’s Council will convene in retreat to review our progress on the strategic priorities of the 2017-18 academic year. We use this time for coordination and planning and to establish priorities for the 2018-19 academic year. Priorities do not discount all the work we do institutionally but allow us to move forward cooperatively in developing infrastructure for all our work. Following that retreat we will make available the priorities for comments and feedback.

Below you will find some of the progress or status of the priorities we communicated to you this past year. In a future update we will communicate the new or extended priorities, with some of the exciting opportunities that await us in this coming academic year.

The University

Fresno Pacific University is reframing its perception of itself as a comprehensive Christian liberal arts university with a seminary and four regional campuses. We were blessed with a record enrollment of over 4,061 students including our traditional, degree completion, graduate and seminary programs, and we graduated 1,150 students in the fall and spring. Reframing our thinking has shifted us from the traditional model of building our work around the traditional undergraduate student, to thinking more broadly about the kinds of students attracted to FPU.

The board-approved vision of the university is “to be known for academic excellence, innovative programming and spiritual vitality.” The Fresno Pacific Idea continues to serve as a framework for discussing our core identity. We have attempted to communicate the core in practice through a new adage: Engaging the Cultures and Serving the Cities. We can no longer limit our focus on community engagement to Fresno, since we are actively serving Visalia, Bakersfield and Merced. We are therefore launching aggressive plans to include these campuses in all the work of the university.

We have five undergraduate and eight graduate programs online; are preparing to launch a BSN program in the 2019-20* academic year; and have established a partnership with California Health Science University, where seven of our students are pursing doctorates in pharmacy. Our growing social work program recently received accreditation.

Eight students on our swimming and diving teams have been selected to the Scholar All-America team of the College Swimming & Diving Coaches Association of America. We are launching a women’s tennis program this fall.

We have met with a chancellor and five presidents of community colleges throughout the Valley to discuss better ways to facilitate transfers to FPU, which we anticipate will boost both our traditional and non-traditional student enrollment.

After careful assessment of the working culture needed to realign us with our mission and vision, the President’s Cabinet established 10 Strategic Priorities that governed our work this academic school year. Here is our progress on those priorities:

Strategic Priorities 2017-18

  1. Increase efficiency and effectiveness of academic & administrative governance.
  • Restructured and redefined the President’s Cabinet (to think institutionally)
  • Created, reviewed or revised 29 operational policies (HR website)
  • Started budgetary process earlier; increased communications with faculty
  • Created President’s Council—including deans, IT
  • Broadened communication participants—Connections
  • Restructured Advancement Office—new leadership (VP)
  • New leadership in Student Life Division (VP)—lead retention matters
  • Strengthen coordination with FPU Foundation
  • New provost to strengthen governance and faculty relations
  • New dean of the School of Business
  • Office of Enrollment more efficient and productive (record enrollment)
  • Office of Spiritual Formation—increase programs at regional campuses & facilitate diversity activities
  • Launched branding campaign—“Possible Happens Here”
  • Athletics collaboration with cabinet members
  • Transition contract with vendor to university managing online programs
  1. Plan for financial stability.
  • Strengthen pathways for students to transfer
  • Record enrollment of 4,000+ with 1,150 graduates
  • Share regional facilities with community colleges (Bakersfield, North Fresno)
  • Restructure Advancement Office
  • Strengthen relations between advancement and the foundation
  • Dropped low-enrolled programs
  • Ended the academic year with a small surplus
  • Established a strategic reserve fund
  • Established a collaboration with Church First Films
  • Established a recruiting relationship with California Health Science University
  1. Develop an academic plan.
  • Provost and Academic Cabinet (progress towards ID of new programs)
  1. Strengthen the links between main and regional campuses (student identity).
  • Convened meetings of cabinet/council and board at each campus
  • Convocations at each campus
  • Campus pastors at each campus
  • President and cabinet members increase visitation
  • Convene student, staff, faculty panels to discuss campuses
  1. Identify cost and plan to address deferred maintenance.
  • Assessment underway
  • Identified critical issues with IT and campus physical plant
  • Dropped contract for master plan until assessment is completed
  • Restore theater classroom space (within city code limitations)
  1. Design and initiate a comprehensive capital campaign to include: a Cultural and Arts Center, endowments, scholarships, deferred maintenance, infrastructure/technology, professional development, athletic, seminary and regional campus facilities.
  • Advancement Office assessment of CRM, leadership, collaboration and records management
  • Began identifying university-wide priorities for a comprehensive campaign
  • Re-stablishing subcommittee of the board to review finance, budgeting and facilities
  • Re-envisioning arts center to become an Arts and Cultural Center for the university and the community
  • Collaboration with cultural and arts association
  1. Strengthen collaborations between seminary and other academic programs.
  • New dean of business and dean of the seminary began discussions on collaboration
  • Center for Community Transformation partnership with School of Business in Social Entrepreneurial Academy
  1. Develop a collaborative governance model between faculty and staff.
  • New provost working with faculty leadership clarifying governance and policy issues
  1. Appointment and revision of a permanent provost’s position.
  • New provost/senior VP started in January
  1. Identify funding priorities for 2018-19.
  • Student scholarships
  • Arts and Cultural Center
  • Facilities for nursing program
  • Information Technology
  • CRM system for Advancement Office
  • Deferred maintenance
  • Regional campuses
  • 75th anniversary preparation

We have made significant progress in this past year in various areas. Most of these are foundational to moving forward as an effective comprehensive university. Still there is much to do to strengthen the learning environment for our students at our five locations. I personally want to acknowledge the leadership of the cabinet and council members for their collaborative efforts to advance the mission, vision and values of the university. I am humbled and privileged to serve among faculty and staff who are so willing to care for our students and serve as examples of the life of Christ in their work and interactions. This year is just the beginning of new possibilities. Our faith encourages us to believe that “Possible Happens Here.”

* Editor’s note: Year corrected from earlier version. FPU’s proposed nursing program is seeking state approval from the California Board of Registered Nursing, which is approximately a year-long process. After attaining approval, the launch process is approximately another year.

  • 1. Launched branding campaign—“Possible Happens Here” It seems to me that it is all too easy to unfortunately see this stated as “Possibly Happens Here”. What about “The Possible Happens Here.”? This is also a sentence.
    2. “..to thinking more broadly about the kinds of students attracted to FPU.” And what kind of students are attracted to FPU. What is the added value FPU offers?
    3.” spiritual vitality” How is this defined and measured?
    4. Is there still a connection to the Pacific District Conference of Mennonite Brethren?
    5. “Engaging the Cultures and Serving the Cities” It should be “The people of the Central Valley”
    6. It would be useful to get some feedback from some of the emeriti.
    7. How does the FPU idea mesh with the 10 strategic priorities?

    Fr. Dale Matson Ph.D.
    Graduate School emeritus

    • Emily Stewart

      As a Mennonite Brethren who is part of the pacifist tradition of the church, I am very confused by the lack of clarity on foundational values to my church. I hope the programs such as church history, theology, biblical studies, peace and conflict studies are presented clearly and unambiguously or does FPU not speak for some larger “evangelical voice” that is contrary to the Mennonite tradition?

      • Emily,
        I hope your concerns are addressed. I didn’t see Mennonite Brethren mentioned in the 10 strategic priorities. Do the branding folks understand and can they articulate the FPU idea? Your comment is related to my question asking who is the target market. Is FPU being marketed only to Evangelicals? I have heard that FPU has many Roman Catholic students. When I taught in the Graduate School, many of my students were female, Hispanic and Roman Catholic. At that time, under Dr. John Yoder, we had several retreats over the years and all came to an agreement that we were helping to extend the Kingdom of God. That was our guiding principle.

        • Emily Stewart

          Thank you for articulating it so very well! I do hope this isn’t buried in some flashy, superficial “evangelical” ethic!

          • You are welcome. In speaking to your concern, I was a part of a group of emeriti faculty invited to meet with D.Merrill Ewert the FPU president at the time. This group also consisted of two former FPU presidents. We were with him for 2 hours and neither his secretary nor he took one note. FPU needs to honor it’s past by remembering it.

          • Emily Stewart

            I hope other voices speak out!

    • Hannah B.P.

      I commend broadening FPU beyond just the Mennonite community. The church doesn’t have a good track record of reaching out to communities of color or embracing LGBTQIA communities. I think FPU should still be rooted in Mennonite values of pacifism, conflict resolution, & helping the poor.

      • Certainly FPU needs to address the social gospel but it also has a prophetic role as stated in the the FPU idea. It continues to need to reflect on what it means to “Extend the Kingdom of God” as stated in the FPU idea. The graduate school saw the Central Valley as a mission field. We reached out to people of color to give a hand up. Many of my students were second generation Americans with parents working in the fields and packing houses. After graduation they became role models and leaders in their families and communities. Our School Psychology program produced the first Hmong school psychologist. Many of the folks in the Central Valley lacked what Dr. Diane Talbot referred to as “Cultural Capital”. Becoming professionals helped bridge the gap between the fields and the professional world, between no aspirations and participation in transformation. I am not able to covey my joy and pride visiting May Vang, who came from the relocation camps of S.E. Asia as a non English speaker, in the Fresno Unified Schools where she worked. She and others from our programs became translators and intercessors for their communities. That is what I call “Extending the Kingdom of God.”