The Sermon on the Mount links Fresno Pacific University with its ninth president.
Harold Haak made that passage the center of his installation remarks during ceremonies October 27 in the campus Special Events Center. In the Evangelical Lutheran Church in which he was brought up, Haak said he learned the fifth chapter of Matthew, which is the heart of Jesus' great sermon. "It is memory work that often stands me in good stead among Mennonites," he joked, "although they sometimes look puzzled by my proclivity to cite the King James Version."
Several hundred students, faculty and community members attended. Fresno Mayor Jim Patterson and James Pankratz, academic dean of Mennonite Brethren Biblical Seminary, each brought greetings. The presidential medal was presented by Henry Dick, district minister of Pacific District Conference of Mennonite Brethren Churches, and Peter Klassen, chair of the university board of trustees. Everyone participated in a litany of dedication.
Haak began his duties in June after 38 years in public higher education, including 11 years as president of California State University, Fresno. Admitting it may seem strange for a man with such a background to lead FPU, Haak called the opportunity a challenge and calling. "For me it is a new adventure and lifelong learning opportunity. It is a revving up of the engine and a lubricating of the joints."
Quoting verses 15-16, "Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house," Haak put FPU on a candlestick, highlighting achievements such as the 38 percent enrollment growth in the undergraduate college, the more than 1,200 students who have master's degrees from the graduate school since 1988 and the addition of a third major in the Center for Degree completion, part of the school of professional studies.
Describing a bright future for the university, Haak spoke of plans for a mathematics/science/technology building, university commons and a fine arts facility. He then honored the past, particularly P.K. Warkentin's gift that provided the first home for FPU forerunner Pacific Bible Institute, as well as the continuing generosity of friends such as Arthur and Barbara McDonald, Marvin and Nadine Steinert, Al and Dottie Warkentin and Arthur and Evelyn Wiebe.
"These are just a sample of the people who—along with students, faculty and staff—make Fresno Pacific University a vibrant and vital place of learning," Haak concluded. "They, and you, make the light of FPU ‘shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven'."
Fresno Pacific University is an accredited Christian university. Located on a 42-acre, park-like campus in southeast Fresno, FPU has an enrollment of more than 1,700 students -- half graduate and half undergraduate. The university also enrolls 12,000 students annually in its professional development studies programs offered locally and throughout the world.