This year Fresno Pacific University will celebrate the 75th anniversary of its founding in the Central Valley of California. It was started as Pacific Bible Institute by the Pacific District Conference of Mennonite Brethren Churches and has grown to become a Christian multicultural university with campuses in Fresno, Bakersfield, Visalia and Merced as well as online programs and a biblical seminary. As we have served almost 4,800 undergraduate, graduate and seminary students from 60 countries through the course of 2018-2019, FPU has continued its Christ-centered commitment as an evangelical Anabaptist institution.
The location of the university is strategic, representing the diversity of the world in an area known as the most productive agricultural region in the country. The Valley’s variety is best represented by its people: the country’s second largest Hmong population as well as significant communities from South Asia, Slavic countries and Armenia and, of course, a large Hispanic population with ties to Mexico and Central and South America. FPU is the only Christian university in Central California, resting between the Pacific Ocean and Yosemite National Park. Particularly strategic for extending the influence of the Kingdom of God through national and global partnerships is the fact that our two largest campuses by student population, main and North Fresno, are located in California’s fifth-largest city.
With over 100 areas of study, 22 graduate and seminary programs, 15 NCAA Division II sports teams and three centers, the university has stewarded quality in its pursuit to extend God’s influence nationally and globally. Our purpose is to prepare students to bring light and hope into dark spaces to quench the thirst of those in dry places and to share the life of Christ through their lives and vocations. This preparation as peacemakers, reconcilers, innovators and truth-tellers is central to that evangelical Anabaptist tradition central to our core education—an education that prepares students to think broadly, engage courageously and serve with humility.
Fresno Pacific University has become a place where many non-Christian students are drawn because of our reputation of quality, only to discover a new life of wisdom that comes through knowing Christ as savior. Each semester we hear testimonies of lives changed through student orientation, chapel programs, learning cohorts and service projects. Our spring convocations provide more opportunities for transfer and non-traditional students to share the transformative power of Christ which occurs as a result of their joining our community.
Our stewardship has moved the university’s ranking in U.S. News & World Report from 41 to 39 among master’s universities in the West. The Washington Monthly rated FPU as a “Best Bang for the Buck” in the West. Money magazine recently listed FPU as #11 in the country and #1 among Christian colleges and universities in being best places for transfer students.
Our uncompromising Christian commitment has opened doors in the fields of medicine/health care, business, education, community development, justice and the arts. We have forged many partnerships, including one where two members of our faculty helped allay a strike in a school district using techniques taught in our Center for Peacemaking. Our Center for Community Transformation has assisted in launching 43 small business in the region, and our Center for Anabaptist Studies is providing professional development for ethnic and interdenominational pastors.
The Lord planted Fresno Pacific University in the Central Valley 75 years ago. At that time the founders could not imagine what God had in store for this community. We have adopted the phrase among our students that “possible happens here” reminding them that “with God all things are possible.” The university has been faithful to the legacy of its founding fathers in extending the influence of the Kingdom of God through the lives of our students.