Life happens, but God has a plan that to help you even—especially—when it doesn’t seem that way.

This was the message for the newest graduates of Fresno Pacific University during commencement Saturday, December 17, 2022. Around 400 students were eligible to participate in the morning event at Selland Arena, 700 M St., Fresno, including 214 from the bachelor’s degree completion program, 122 from master’s programs, 59 from traditional undergraduate programs and two from Fresno Pacific Biblical Seminary.

Graduates from traditional programs and the seminary attend classes at the main FPU campus, 1717 S. Chestnut Ave., Fresno. Degree completion and master's students attend regional campuses in Merced, North Fresno, Visalia and Bakersfield.

That message came from Fresno Deputy Mayor Matthew Grundy, who passionately mixed the words of the Bible—Jeremiah 1:5, “Before I formed you I the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart,” and 29:11, “For I know the plans I have for you…plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”—with his own experience of seeming failure that led to greater success.

“If I wasn’t homeless, I wouldn’t have had the experience to build the necessary compassion needed to one day take the job of CEO of Habitat for Humanity Greater Fresno,” he said, voice rising. “And without that experience at Habitat, it would not have prepared me for the day when a stranger named Jerry Dyer (Mayor of Fresno) would reach out to me asking me to join this city as deputy mayor to lead this city’s housing strategy.

“I’m here to tell you that your mess is meant to become your message, that your test is intended to be a testimony. That one day you would stand here just like I am today, telling a group of strangers that yes, God’s plans are for good,” he said.

As CEO for Habitat for Humanity Greater Fresno Area, Grundy drove expansion projects and helped lead strategic vision for 1,200 Habitat operations across the U.S. As deputy mayor, he works closely with the mayor and his staff to crystallize the “One Fresno” mission—both within the walls of Fresno City Hall and throughout the community. Grundy has expertise in organizational development, real estate, finance and capacity building. Grundy and wife Jocelyn have six children.

The Fall 2022 Commencement is the first for FPU President André Stephens, Ph.D., who joined the university in July after 30 years of experience in Christian higher education in California, most recently as vice president for student development at Biola University.

Other speakers included Joshua Wilson, J.D., chair of the FPU Board of Trustees, and Gayle Copeland, Ph.D., provost/vice president for academic affairs and chief academic officer. Students and faculty provided music. Attend commencement virtually at   

More graduation-related news at:

Outstanding FPU graduate already helping save lives | University News (

Two generations of DenHartogs earn (more) graduate degrees at Fresno Pacific University | University News



Wayne Steffen
Associate Director of Publications and Media Relations