Graduate dean moves into university-wide post, graduate school takes team approach to leadership

As a dean moves to a new challenge, a team will take over at Fresno Pacific Graduate School, part of Fresno Pacific University.

In June John Yoder, graduate dean, begins a two-year appointment as FPU associate vice president for academic affairs. At the same time Rod Janzen will start a one-year term as acting dean of the graduate school and Jean Fennacy as an associate dean. Ken Engstrom will continue as associate dean.

Among Yoder's main responsibilities will be to head the university's efforts at accreditation from Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC). FPU has maintained WASC accreditation as a four-year school since 1965. "That, in many ways, will be the university's main agenda for the next year and a half," said FPU President Harold Haak.

WASC will send a group of faculty and administrators from other colleges and universities to campus in the fall of 2002 and the spring of 2003 to examine aspects of institutional life from financial stability to academic programs. "This is a sort of platform, a scaffolding, upon which we can look at what we do and how we're doing it and see ways to do it better," Yoder said.

Day-to-day campus operations will also command Yoder's attention as he works with Haak, who will assume the responsibilities of provost as well as president. "I will work with academic programs in a variety of ways," said Yoder, who has a doctorate from the University of Virginia.

Working for the university in a new capacity after a decade as dean is attractive to Yoder. "Change can sometimes seem threatening, but it can lead to new opportunities. It can force us out of traditional roles and open new horizons," he said. He will also enjoy a continued connection to the graduate school as faculty in the Leadership, Conflict and Peacemaking Division.

Though two of the three new graduate school leaders have yet to assume their posts, none are neophytes at the university. Fennacy came to FPU in 1980, Engstrom in 1983 and Janzen in 1989. All will remain graduate program directors—Engstrom in administrative services, Janzen in curriculum and teaching and Fennacy in reading and language arts—but Janzen and Fennacy will reduce their teaching loads to make room for their extra duties. All have doctorates from the University of Southern California.

Janzen will assume the essential functions of the dean. "I will provide oversight for the entire graduate school," he said, noting that more than 75 percent of his 2001-2002 contract is set aside for the position. His work will include budget, personnel and planning.

One of Janzen's goals is to get to know all graduate programs and help plan for their future. "I don't conceive myself to be a placeholder, because the graduate school needs an active leader."

Fennacy's administrative tasks will center on the graduate school's assessment and self-evaluation process. All three schools at the university are charged with creating and putting into practice a system to set goals and measure the outcome of their work. "Fundamentally it's about creating a process where we can reflect on where we are, what we're doing and how we can get better," she said. Other duties will include involvement in the WASC accreditation.

Engstrom's work will remain largely the same. "My role will continue to be involved with support staff," he said, "orienting them and seeing to their physical needs." He will also remain as chair of the academic appeals committee.

Yoder expects good things from Janzen, Fennacy and Engstrom. "They complement each other's strengths and will help the graduate school move forward in the coming year."


Wayne Steffen
Associate Director of Publications and Media Relations