A new state official was introduced to Fresno Pacific University’s continuing efforts to serve transfer students, develop partnerships with organizations and improve life in the region August 15, 2019.
Lande Ajose, Ph.D., senior policy advisor for higher education for California Governor Gavin Newsom, visited FPU’s main campus, along with Kristen Soares, president of the Association of Independent California Colleges and Universities (AICCU), and Alex Graves, AICCU vice president for government relations. The trio met with university leaders including Joseph Jones, Ph.D., president; Gayle Copeland, Ph.D., provost/senior vice president for academic affairs; Jon Endicott, vice president for enrollment management; as well as deans and representative of enrollment, athletics and the Center for Peacemaking.
Ajose expressed enthusiasm for several FPU programs she said deal with students with compassion and in “mission-based” way. One was Enrollment Express, where FPU recruiters go to community colleges and can get those students approved for bachelor’s degree completion (DC) classes and financial services in as little as two hours. “We spend a lot of time in Sacramento talking about innovation. That one’s striking,” she said.
There is also two-year graduation guarantee for students transferring into the traditional undergraduate program, and a four-year guarantee for students coming directly from high school. “Going to the students where they are has to make a difference,” Soares said.
Some 78 percent of FPU’s 4,200 students are transfers from community colleges or other colleges and universities. About 1,800 are working adults in DC programs, where classes meet one night a week and groups—known as “cohorts”—progress together through to graduation. Approximately half of the more than 1,000 traditional-aged undergraduates also have prior study.
Jones talked about FPU’s partnerships with 11 Valley community colleges as well as Madera Community Hospital, California Health Sciences University and businesses that provide student internships. Braving this Valley’s heat, the group toured the campus and heard presentations by students and staff at the Commuter House, Sunbird Pantry and the Academic Success Center. Ajose praised these and other efforts to “care for the whole student” and help more of them earn degrees. “When we make investments to get students into higher education, we want them to complete,” she said.
The region’s need for educational resources remains great, according to Jones. “The Central Valley is the place for the best effect on investment.”
The Valley will not fall off the governor’s radar, Ajose pledged. “Everyone in the administration is used to driving the 99.”
PHOTO--From left: Kristen Soares, president of the Association of Independent California Colleges and Universities (AICCU); Joseph Jones, Ph.D., president of Fresno Pacific University; and Lande Ajose, Ph.D., senior policy advisor for higher education for California Governor Gavin Newsom at the McDonald Hall fountain at FPU.