Preparing for Possibilities

“The possibilities are numerous once we decide to act and not react.” – George Bernard Shaw

Over the next six months, in preparation for our 75th anniversary celebration, we as a community will be identifying our priorities and direction for the next five years. In October 2015 the Board of Trustees approved a University Strategic Plan. In June 2016 the board approved a revised FPU Vision Statement. The revision reflected the work of the community in clarifying the meaning of the last half of the previous statement, which said FPU, as a “leading Christian university,” would be “known for academic excellence, innovative programing and spiritual vitality.”

The new statement is:

“Fresno Pacific is a vibrant Christ-centered university that is transforming California’s Central Valley and global communities through exemplary service to students of all ethnicities and cultures. Innovative programs encourage academic and professional excellence, peacemaking, social justice, ethical leadership, holistic wellness, and spiritual vitality.”

While the 2015 strategic plan provides a great framework for our hopes for the future, it does not provide the much-needed year-to-year guidance in priorities essential to our moving forward over the next three to five years. For the last two years we have been guided by annual strategic priorities; some that were implicit in the plan, others that were new but foundational to addressing the future of the university. We have now progressed from thinking just about the next year to looking into a future beyond the 75th anniversary. Last year we convened forums titled “Envisioning the Future,” and the results of those discussions are posted on the president’s webpage (fresno.edu/about/president). Now is the time to engage in dialogue about the steps toward flourishing.

We will be inviting the FPU community to engage in dialogue concerning goals, objectives and strategies to accomplish our vision. The current plan serves as the framework for our discussions, operations and implementation. Our hope is to identify four to five overarching goals for the next five years; each goal containing objectives and strategies designated by year. Our fund development plan and expenditure priorities will complement the implementation process. We invite all to visit the president’s webpage to review the strategic plan, keeping in mind that the statements we made on values, community, program development and working culture remain as the context for the strategies we develop for the next five years.

There have been significant changes at FPU over these last two academic years in leadership, structures, operations, marketing and enrollment, all in accordance with our priorities for 2017-18 and our current priorities for 2018-19. Sustaining and flourishing in the future does not occur just on hope, but needs to be strategic and intentional, always keeping in mind the broader mission, vision and values.

As a Christian community we want to continue to steward our resources and strategically consider how to move our institution towards flourishing. According to Education Dive, an organization that tracks colleges and universities which closed or consolidated since 2016, 102 institutions closed and 37 merged. The Chronicle of Higher Education reports almost monthly about another institution in crisis. Those working in university administration became aware of this coming crisis over a decade ago. Most acted to stay out of crisis, others acted too late or to slow in making the necessary changes to sustain a future.

We are emerging from some difficult times, but as a community we adapt to change in ways that sustain our mission, vision and values. We seek wisdom that is embedded in our faith in God’s word; knowledge that is current and relevant; work that is governed by our love for God and our neighbors; and perseverance that is strengthened by the difficulties we have overcome. “If we have faith like a grain of mustard seed, we can say to this mountain, move and it will move, and nothing will be impossible for you,” Jesus said in Matthew 17:20. We are confident in a move toward growing, engaging, serving and transforming through innovation. Our hope and faith are in the Lord Most High who has positioned Fresno Pacific University throughout the Central Valley to serve his purposes and to honor his name.