The search for the next president of Fresno Pacific University is entering a new phase.
The FPU Presidential Search Committee met in September with AGB Search, which will now begin formally gathering a pool of candidates. The prospects are exciting. “We have already seen some keen interest in the position, with a number of candidates indicating serious interest, even before the position was posted,” said Chairman of the FPU Board of Trustees Don Griffith, owner of a financial planning business who co-chairs the search committee with Xavier Piña, Ed.D., FPU board member, school district superintendent and Mennonite Brethren pastor. The search committee is comprised of 12 members who represent the university board, administration, faculty, staff and students.
More on the FPU presidential search at fresno.edu/about/leadership/presidential-search
Through the fall committee members will “carefully and prayerfully” narrow the pool and hold offsite interviews with several candidates, according to Griffith. The hope is to bring a final candidate for full board review and campus visit, then make an appointment by early spring 2017. The new president would begin serving in July 2017, if all goes according to plan.
Candidates from a variety of backgrounds and professional experiences will be considered. Wherever he or she comes from, the next president will be called upon to provide visionary leadership to:
Nurture FPU’s Christian identity and commitment to a distinctive education
Develop and expand fundraising and financial solidity
Foster community and diversity
Develop innovative academic programs and partnerships
Personal attributes will include vibrant Christian faith, proven administrative skill and fiscal management, inclusiveness, energy, collaboration, a warm heart and welcoming spirit, integrity and an embrace of the Anabaptist evangelical theology espoused by FPU through its affiliation with the Mennonite Brethren Church. FPU’s more than 3,500 students represent more than 30 denominations and traditions and about as many countries.
The Central Valley’s only comprehensive Christian university, FPU offers a variety of traditional undergraduate, bachelor’s degree completion, master’s and seminary programs at four locations in Fresno, Merced, Visalia and Bakersfield. The university has been named one of the top 10 Hispanic Serving Institutions (HSI) nationally in graduating Hispanic students and has its region’s highest overall graduation rate for all students.
The presidential selection process began in September 2015, and Paul Corts, Ph.D., was chosen as consultant the next month. Now affiliated with AGB Search, the consulting arm of the Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges (AGB), Corts has been president of two universities and the Council for Christian Colleges & Universities. He spent two days in February 2016 in training sessions with the full board.
The length and rigor of the selection is designed to discern the best person to lead FPU through perhaps the fastest-changing time in its 72-year history. “Given the rapidly-changing landscape of higher education, and especially Christian higher education, one immediate challenge the new president will face is that of leading the university to thrive in the midst of the increasing complexity of higher education and the changing needs of the unique community that we serve,” Griffith said.
There will also be opportunities. “The new president will be expected to embrace change as he or she continues to explore and implement new academic programs, establish new educational partnerships and apply new methods of delivering a quality Christian higher education to an increasingly diverse population with unique needs and expectations,” he added.
Presidential searches require absolute confidentiality to protect both the university and potential candidates—prayers are always welcome, however. “The board of trustees and the search committee ask everyone who has any association with FPU to pray earnestly for this process,” Griffith said. “We are expecting God to clearly call our next president, and we are expecting God to clearly reveal to the search committee, the board and the FPU community the candidate who will best serve the unique needs of the FPU community, and who will lead us as in such a way that we will be blessed and thrive.”