The link between Mountain Lake and Fresno Pacific University continues to strengthen with the appointment of D. Merrill Ewert as the university's next president.
When he becomes FPU's 10th president in July of 2002, Ewert will join fellow natives Arthur Wiebe, president emeritus, and Jonathan Dick, chemistry faculty. Ewert's family operates a farm near Mountain Lake, and he remains involved in the enterprise.
Ewert looks forward to the move. "FPU's vision resonates with my personal commitment to promote higher education, to strengthen communities and to build people and institutions in an increasingly pluralistic society," he said.
Ewert comes to FPU from Cornell University, where he serves as professor, director and associate dean of Cornell Cooperative Extension. He is responsible for 57 county extension offices throughout the state of New York, a staff of 1,600 and a budget of $107 million. He also advises graduate students and carries out research.
The appointment will further build the university, which is already growing through record enrollment and an ambitious facilities plan. "Merrill is an experienced professor and administrator with a heart for working with people across the spectrum and a passion for using the tools of education to improve the world," said FPU Board President Peter Klassen, who headed the campus committee that engaged in a national presidential search.
The three themes that run through Ewert's life and work are education, community development and intercultural outreach. His other academic positions include assistant and associate professor of education at Cornell, director of extension and continuing education at Wheaton College and assistant professor of adult/extension education and cooperative extension specialist at the University of Maryland.
The canvas of Ewert's intercultural and community achievement stretches around the world. As a Fulbright Senior Scholar, he worked with farmers in the Philippines. He spent seven years in Africa with MAP International (Africa regional director, 1984-86), Mennonite Central Committee (project director, Democratic Republic of Congo, 1973-76) and Mennonite Brethren Board of Missions and Services (relief coordinator and extension educator, Congo, 1967-69). Part of his work was to teach and set up a food program. He also served as co-principal investigator for a national survey in the former soviet republic of Belarus and organized workshops and produced teaching materials for projects in Latin America, South Asia and the Caribbean.
Ewert is excited by the university's potential. "Though there are many things I can resist, a good challenge is not among them," he said. "Fresno Pacific University stands at the threshold of new opportunities for growth and development. It might eventually write the book on how Christian universities engage their scholarship with the needs of society."
No stranger to Christian higher education, Ewert earned a bachelor's degree at Tabor College, Hillsboro, Kansas, which, like FPU, is owned by the Mennonite Brethren Church. Wheaton (Ill.) College is a member of the Council of Christian Colleges and Universities. His master of arts and doctorate are from the University of Wisconsin-Madision.
Ewert replacesHarold Haak, who will complete his term in June. Under Haak's leadership, the university has accomplished much in a short time. "Harold has been instrumental in strengthening our financial position, establishing long-term goals and directing our planning for programs and facilities," Klassen said.
FresnoPacific Universityis an accredited Christian university listed as a best value in U.S. News & World Report's college guide. Located on a 42-acre campus in southeast Fresno, FPU has an enrollment of 1,900 students—half in graduate and half in undergraduate programs. The university also enrolls 12,000 students annually in its professional development studies programs offered locally and throughout the world.