More than 480 people will have one more thing to celebrate this Christmas—a degree from Fresno Pacific University.

An estimated 487 students will be eligible to graduate at commencement Saturday, December 16, 2017, in Selland Arena, 700 M St., Fresno. The event begins at 10:00 a.m.

In all, 344 bachelor’s degree completion students, 73 graduate students—including those from Fresno Pacific Biblical Seminary—and 70 traditional undergraduate students could participate. Degree completion students are working adults who enter FPU with some college credit, while many graduate students are already professionals in their field. Traditional undergraduate programs are designed for recent high school graduates and transfers from community colleges. There will be a hooding ceremony for master’s degree graduates at 7:00 p.m. Friday, December 15, in the Special Events Center on the main FPU campus, 1717 S. Chestnut Ave., Fresno.  

The title of the commencement address will be “Walk with Grace, Live in Peace and Act with Courage,” and the speaker will be the man who was FPU President at the first December commencement, D. Merrill Ewert, Ph.D. Ewert led the university from 2002-2012. The Mountain Lake, MN, native came to FPU from Cornell University, where he had been director of Cornell Cooperative Extension and a member of the education faculty. Outside the classroom, Ewert worked in relief and development in Africa for seven years. During Ewert’s presidency, FPU enrollments grew from around 1,500 to more than 3,500 and new regional campuses were added in North Fresno, Visalia, Bakersfield and Merced. The university was also reorganized into Schools of Business, Education, Natural Sciences and Humanities, Religion and Social Sciences, and MB Biblical Seminary was merged into FPU, becoming Fresno Pacific Biblical Seminary. He and wife Priscilla have two adult daughters.

Other speakers will include Joseph Jones, Ph.D., current president of the university, and Donald Griffith, chair of the FPU Board of Trustees.