Policy Advocacy is an Important and Growing Area for FPU

Policy Advocacy is an Important and Growing Area for FPU

The value and impact of Fresno Pacific University results in powerful stories of transformed lives: The student who was the first in their family to graduate with college degree, the single mom who completed her degree at a regional campus while juggling a full-time job and the teacher or nurse who chooses to work in the Valley as opposed to the Bay Area or Southern California all improve life in the communities that raised them.

These stories help me as FPU’s Government Relations Manager to build relationships with elected representatives at the local, state and federal level, as well as track relevant higher education legislation both in California and nationally. This is all to advocate on behalf of FPU with policy makers and other relevant stakeholders to shape outcomes and ensure the university is well positioned to engage the cultures and serve the cities.

Student transformations are incredibly powerful and effective testimony for policymakers to hear. The work of faculty and staff with students in the classroom, financial services, academic advising, athletics, student life and spiritual formation all directly impact FPU’s ability to sit across from state legislators, congressmen and senators and advocate for this university, and schools like ours, to be thoughtfully considered in policy decisions.

It is easy to get bogged down in day-to-day tasks and miss the impact those jobs can have beyond the FPU community. But who our students are, and the quality of work faculty and staff do with them, have led to many fruitful conversations with lawmakers over the past year.

During the CARES Act negotiations, I received this note from a senior staffer working for one of California’s senators: “We couldn’t have done it without you, Dr. Jones, and the whole independent colleges and universities community. It certainly helped move the needle…”

As the number and complexity of issues facing higher education increases it is critical that FPU engages in broad-based policy advocacy efforts. As such Fresno Pacific is more actively collaborating with sister California Christian colleges and universities on Cal Grant funding and other critical issues of affordability and access, as well as with independent non-profit peers through the Association of Independent California Colleges and Universities (AICCU), the Council for Christian Colleges & Universities and the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities (NAICU).

Already this year FPU has tracked with new non-discrimination laws, implemented Title IX regulations and NCAA guidance on athlete compensation, adjusted to adjunct faculty pay legislation, protected state funding for students, advocated for international students and undocumented students, empowered student leaders to serve in statewide advocacy and testified before lawmakers.

As we finish the 2020 legislative calendar in California and the U.S. Congressional session, FPU’s priorities include:

State

  • Maintaining Cal Grant funding at current levels beyond 2020-2021
    • Create a Cal Grant funding formula for independent non-profit institutions
  • COVID-19 re-opening framework for colleges and universities

Federal

  • Securing a second round of federal COVID stimulus spending for colleges and universities
  • Long-term legislative resolution for DACA students  
  • Expanding Pell Grant access/awards

As FPU continues to grow in this area during the academic year ahead, it is important to develop new ways to include more students, staff and faculty in advocacy work.

Connections
Donald Norman

Donald Norman

Director of Graduate and Degree Completion Enrollment and Government Relations Manager