An administrator with deep personal and professional roots in the region will be the next provost/senior vice president for academic affairs at Fresno Pacific University.

Deborah Gayle Copeland, Ph.D., was selected December 14, 2017, and is expected to begin her duties in mid-February. “She is a native of the Central Valley and comes with professional experience in higher education in both public and Christian schools in the region and beyond. Her ability to combine her experience in other parts of the country with her rootedness in the local community will be a great advantage to our university and its students,” said Joseph Jones, Ph.D., FPU president.

The Central Valley’s only accredited Christian university, FPU enrolls more than 4,000 traditional and adult students on the main campus in southeast Fresno and regional campuses in North Fresno, Visalia, Bakersfield and Merced as well as online. FPU has the highest four-year graduation rate of any Central Valley college or university, is a Hispanic Serving Institution and was named one of the top 10 HSIs nationally in graduating Hispanic students.

After starting her career as a social studies teacher at Immanuel High School in Reedley, Fresno Christian High School in Fresno and in Sanger High School, Copeland was an assistant principal and summer school principal at Fresno’s Central High School. In higher education, she most recently served as provost at Simpson University, Redding, CA, after 10 years as a professor and education department chair at Geneva College, Beaver Falls, PA. Both schools are members, along with FPU, of the Council for Christian Colleges & Universities. Before that Copeland was an assistant professor at Fresno State University and Baylor University.

As provost at Simpson, Copeland was deeply involved in implementing faculty development, mentoring, retention, promotion and discipline mediation programs; coordinating strategic planning; and developing academic strategic initiatives. She also coordinated plans for online programs and led the revision of the institution’s vision for diversity.

Copeland earned her Doctoral Degree in Educational Policy and Leadership and a Master of Arts in History from the University of Kansas in Lawrence. She has a Master of Arts in Education Administration and Supervision from California State University Fresno and a Bachelor of Arts in History from Geneva College.

The provost/senior vice president for academic affairs is FPU’s chief academic officer, leading all aspects of the intellectual life of the university. The position reports to the president and serves as the first among equals among university vice presidents as well as acting president in the absence of the president.

The selection process for provost/senior vice president for academic affairs was led by a search committee chaired by Pamela Johnston, Ph.D., associate professor of history. “I would like to thank the committee for a job well done and express our appreciation to all who were faithful in their prayers,” Jones said.




Wayne Steffen
Associate Director of Publications and Media Relations