How Fresno Pacific is confronting budget challenges

Fresno, Calif. (KSEE/KGPE) – The process of elimination of positions at Fresno Pacific University (FPU) has been completed according to a statement from the university, and the philosophy program was not one of them.

In the fall of 2022, FPU announced that they would have to make the difficult decision to cut several positions that included tenured professors and leading programs with deep roots and history at the university, including the Philosophy Department.

The decision to remove the programs and professors was appealed. On January 11, students and alumni gathered outside of the offices of president McDonald Hall to stage a “Tents and Togas” sit-in protest ahead of the resolution of the appeal. Participants wore togas to display the importance of philosophy and stayed in tents to visibly support the Sierra program.

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In a statement to FPU says that their position elimination process announced last fall has been completed. Five faculty positions were discontinued. Three faculty positions that became vacant and five that were added but not filled over the last three years will not be filled at this time.

Affected faculty have been informed that their contracts will not be renewed after June 30, 2023. A total of 16 staff positions were eliminated through attrition and reorganization. In October of 2022, FPU implemented a Voluntary Retirement Incentive Program for some long-time teaching faculty. Eight chose to participate and will end their employment in June.

This is a stressful time, Stephens acknowledged, but these changes put the university on a good track.

“I came to FPU because I believe in the power of education, specifically Christian higher education, to form and transform the lives of individuals who attend our institution. Those transformed lives are not only an individual good but a societal good as families and communities are transformed by graduates who are loving and wise,” said President André Stephens, Ph.D.

With these cuts, FPU has said that their spring 2023 enrollment numbers are very encouraging. While it’s typical for colleges to see lower enrollment in the spring due to fall graduation, preliminary headcount for traditional bachelor’s degrees, bachelor’s degree completion, and graduate programs show only a 3% decline between the fall and spring semesters. This is well below that of the last two years.

Looking ahead to this upcoming fall, they say traditional undergraduate applications are up 36%, a significant increase.

FPU is putting emphasis on making sure current students make it to graduation, seeing it as important as attracting new students. For that reason, they recently created the position of Chief Retention Officer. This role is being taken by FPU’s director of student success services, Kerry Sue Brown.

“I don’t have any new year’s resolutions, but I do have a new year’s prayer: that we would never underestimate who God is and what he is doing in and through us,” Stephens said. “Amidst all that is happening around us or to us, we serve a God who is bigger, better, and stronger than our circumstances—may we live in the confidence of that truth!

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