WASC, Part Two
In Point One of this “Connecting Points” we called ourselves to pray, to ask our Father for our daily bread in Jesus name. The daily bread of a Christ-centered university includes being accredited. Without accreditation our mission is not achievable. Our FPU daily bread also includes wise discernment about doing God’s will and participating in our part of the coming of Christ’s kingdom. Our trustees provide that independent guidance.
In Point Two we tell you what happened when you prayed:
By God’s grace WE DID IT! More than four years of disciplined and determined labor came to focus in four days of on-site examination. The WASC team has come and gone. They were very helpful and impressed with FPU—students, faculty, staff. Thank you to all who helped form and guide the process, gathered and studied data and evidence, wrote, edited, prepared recommendations, prepared for the visit, made the campus look great, met with the team and treated our guests with such hospitality. FPU is a special place and the team experienced and recognized that specialness.
For as complete a report as we can give now see the recent post on the FPU WASC blog site. We will receive the final report in July. A community celebration will be arranged as soon as we catch our breath.
What we can say now is that it was a good report.
FPU is somewhat unique in hosting an open forum with the visiting team so that everyone could hear first-hand from the members. WASC encourages transparency, and the final report will be posted on its website. Here is what they shared:
Team members commended us for the work we have done in establishing a culture of “assessment” (reviewing student learning data and improving teaching because of it); the extra assessment studies our faculty conducted; efforts to stabilize the university budget; our IT department and Center for Online Learning’s work in connecting students and faculty throughout all university sites in online teaching and learning; and our self-awareness about institutional needs going forward (a very good sign).
They also made recommendations about developing a comprehensive diversity plan; completing the current strategic plan process; developing financial processes and fundraising; increasing the inclusion of faculty and staff in decision-making
bodies and processes; and creating communication feedback processes. The points are deliberately somewhat vague and inexact because we do not have the actual wording, nor do we have the final and full report.
However, there were no surprises, again a good sign that we know what we have to do. The goal is always student learning. Are they learning what they need to be learning? We were commended for our work in this foundational and most important effort of any university! Many of us heard the team express their appreciation for various aspects of FPU—the work of the regional centers, culture of assessment, dedication of faculty and staff, student diversity and others.
In the fall Provost Steve Varvis was quoted in our student paper, The Syrinx, saying that there was a 100% chance that we would receive reaccreditation and our excellence would be noted. The initial report indicates that he was 100% correct.
As soon as the session on the accreditation review was done mid-day Friday, the FPU Board of Trustees went to work, starting with a luncheon meeting with students, and then convening in regular sessions. With the resignation of former board chair John Thiesen for health reasons, Vice Chair Cary Nikkel presided.
* The trustees unanimously elected Don Griffith to chair the board, effective following the meeting Saturday. Pastor James Bergen was approved to chair the Seminary Committee. God led the trustees to clear consensus in both these major decisions.
* Faculty members Donna Callahan, Ph.D.; Karen Crozier, Ph.D.; Robin Perry, M.A.; and Laura Schmidt Roberts, Ph.D., were advanced in rank, plus sabbaticals for Hope Nisly, M.L.S., and Quentin Kinnison, Ph.D., and a prestigious leave of absence for Ryan Schellenberg, Ph.D., were approved. These actions recognize and encourage the effective Christian teachers that make FPU a great Christian university.
* The revised Strategic Plan was adopted, providing an initial set of 13 desired conditions the trustees want to see become reality for FPU. This is a dynamic living statement that will be continually updated. The plan as a whole has no final date or deadline, but there will be many actionable and dated supporting conditions and objectives. Strategies to achieve these desired conditions are in varying stages of development and implementation, and the plan is already guiding the allocation of resources and the assignment of people.
* Schematic floor plans and external views for the proposed music and theater building are expected to be ready for final review and possible approval by
the next full board meetings in June. Campus master planning is also in process.
* Juan Martinez, Ph.D., and Deb Palmer were elected to the board.
* Using conservative revenue assumptions, a budget of $55,648,000 was approved for fiscal year 2015-16 that begins May 1. The budget includes a projected positive balance of $1,690,000, and a surplus of $900,000 is currently projected for the 2014-15 year, which would be an improvement of $4,000,000 from the prior year.
* $500,000 was approved for facilities maintenance and improvement.
These are major events and decisions in the life and future of your university. Thanks for your prayers in the search for God’s wisdom and God’s blessing.