To inspire, to increase access, to honor a commitment and carry forward a vision—the reasons people support Fresno Pacific University are as varied as the supporters themselves. Here is a cross section of donors, including a family who has been part of the story for generations, a long-serving faculty member and administrator, a young faculty member and a recent graduate who has joined the staff. Each has a compelling reason to give their time, talent and treasure.
Enns Family: Generations of Commitment
Eugene Enns wants to carry forward the vision of his father, Peter A. Enns, and the rest of the Mennonite Brethren Board of Education who built Pacific Bible Institute into a fully accredited four-year liberal arts college where their children and grandchildren could earn degrees valued in both the secular workplace and in Christian life.
The connection between the Enns family and Fresno Pacific has spanned four generations and is poised for the future.
Eugene Enns’ role as chair of the 75th Anniversary Executive Committee is the latest in a lifetime of service. “From the time my father (Peter A. Enns) led us children through the secret rooms of the new Seminary House in 1955, I knew the vision he and his fellow MB Board members started needed to be carried forward,” Eugene says.
In the 1950s, Peter A. Enns and the rest of the Mennonite Brethren (MB) Board of Education dreamed of building Pacific Bible Institute (PBI) into a fully accredited four-year liberal arts college. These pioneers envisioned a campus where their children and grandchildren could earn degrees valued in both the secular workplace and in Christian life.
Today Eugene sees how the faithful commitment of those visionaries succeeded. “As I look back 59 years and recall Phyllis Litke, my future wife, entering PBI as a freshman in the downtown ‘Tuolumne Building’ before transitioning to Chestnut and Butler, I marvel at the many changes. Those original buildings with sidewalks that led to nowhere have transformed a cotton field into a beautiful campus,” he says.
Wanting to carry that vision forward, Enns jumped at the chance to join the Fresno Pacific Board of Trustees in 1984, and began a 10-year stint as chair in 1990. That year Pacific Magazine honored the bond between the Enns family and the school with a cover photo of Peter and Eugene and an article titled “A Family Tradition.” Advances during the decade included building McDonald Hall and integrating the trustees into commencement, which gave Eugene the privilege of shaking hands with graduates as they crossed the stage, including his son, Loren, the third Enns generation. “These were highlights of my 30-plus years as a trustee,” Eugene says.
The year 2019 marks another milestone for Eugene and Phyllis: the 40th anniversary of the Presidents Circle of Donors, of which they are charter members. They have also supported building projects, been members of the Cornerstone and Heritage donor groups and established scholarship funds.
Phyllis and Eugene have enjoyed watching, guiding and encouraging their three children—Connie, 1991; Sherrilyn, 1989; Loren, 2000, and his wife Andrea, 2000—and three granddaughters—Ashley, 2017, and her husband, Ryan, 2017; Annie, 2020; and Alyssa, 2022—through their studies at Fresno Pacific. Today two are public school teachers, four are in business and two are students.
Dalton Reimer: Making Vision Reality
By Dalton Reimer, Ph.D., emeritus communication (1960-2002, part-time to 2014)
In the spring of 1960 I faced a choice. I was in the final months of my master’s degree program at Northwestern University, and the time had come for me to fulfill my service obligation. I had registered as a conscientious objector, but was still obligated to serve my country in an approved alternative.
In February of 1960, Arthur J. Wiebe, Ed.D., was appointed president to lead the transition of Pacific Bible Institute to a liberal arts college following a plan he had earlier proposed to PBI’s board as a consultant. Wiebe had been my teacher and principal while I was at Immanuel Academy, now high school, in Reedley. He also happened to be my uncle.
At his invitation, in the fall of 1960 I began teaching in fulfillment of my draft obligation. Vision, more than reality, was the attraction at the time. Coming to a fledgling institution from a leading university in my field of communication, where I had been privileged to serve as a graduate assistant to one of the foremost university debate programs in the country, was a bit of a shock. Yet, visions are compelling, even when realities are challenging. And so the die was cast, with me serving as faculty, dean and with the Center for Peacemaking, among other roles. Few have the opportunity to help shape an institution from its rebirth as a liberal arts college to maturity as a university. It has been a great honor.
A great institution, however, is the work of many people, including donors who faithfully contribute resources for scholarships, operational funds, special projects and endowments. When all share their particular gifts, we prosper and grow.
Erik Leung: Increasing Student Resources
By Erik Leung D.M.A., assistant professor and program director of music
When I joined the music faculty, FPU did not have the resources—instruments, etc.—to perform the kind of high-level repertoire I believed students were capable of playing, so I went out and bought instruments on my own with my own funds. Now the students I teach can play the music that we want to play. An excellent education in music means there should be equitable access to great music and great performing opportunities.
As a faculty member, I feel a sense of stewardship. Voltaire said in Candide "to tend your garden." This is my garden and I want to tend that garden. And I invest in that garden to make it grow. That investment could be in time, it could be in money.
In the five years I’ve been at Fresno Pacific University I’ve seen some amazing things happen with faculty and students. If we could all share this focus, this garden, even more could happen. FPU is our garden. We can donate effort, donate spirit, donate passion.
Angel De Leon: Sharing the Blessings He Received
By Angel De Leon (BA ’17)
Going to college was my dream, but I knew it was not going to be easy. Being a first-generation student with undocumented legal status, my options were limited. During my senior year of high school, I desperately looked for colleges that I felt were welcoming to students like myself. I applied to 23 universities, but Fresno Pacific rose to the top. I knew I wanted a Christ-centered community that would challenge my beliefs, but more importantly, allow me to explore my spiritual journey.
It was evident God wanted me at FPU and it did not take long for me to make this my home. I found friends, mentors and professors who saw me grow into the person I am today. As a student I actively contributed to FPU as a freshman class senator, Student Judicial Board member and residence assistant. I made it my goal to give back to the university that gave me so much, and I was able to see FPU’s values come to life for students. Today I remain active through the Alumni Council.
Now as an undergraduate admission counselor, I am reminded of my own journey. It is a blessing to expand FPU’s vision to surrounding communities and future generations. I am forever thankful for the generous donors that made my education possible. Because of them, I can proudly say that I am the first one in my family to attend and graduate from college. That is whyI give financially and freely from my heart back to my alma mater.