Fresno Pacific University Presidential Search Committee

Fresno Pacific University Board of Trustees

John Thiesen, Chair – John Thiesen has served as the chair of Fresno Pacific University Board of Trustees for the past year and as a trustee for the past 11 years. He also has served as chair of the Board Development Committee. He is the owner of Rio Vista Fruit Farm, J&A Farms and division manager of Giumarra Companies of Reedley, California. John is a member of the Reedley Mennonite Brethren Church. He obtained his B.A. and elementary and secondary teaching credential from Fresno Pacific University. He is passionate about Christian higher education and has been involved for 40 years as a teacher, administrator, coach, board member or board chair at both the high school and college level.

Larry Martens, Co-Chair – Larry Martens has served on the FPU Board of Trustees for the past 11 years and was chair for six years. Larry is an alumnus, faculty member, student and former president of Mennonite Brethren Biblical Seminary prior to it becoming a part of the university. He is a retired Mennonite Brethren pastor, and has served as a consultant on church health and pastoral transitions for the denomination. Larry received a B.A. from Tabor College; an M.M.E. from University of Kansas, an M.Div. from MBBS and a Ph.D. from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. He attends the North Fresno Mennonite Brethren Church.

Deborah (Deb) Palmer – Deb Palmer has served as a trustee for Fresno Pacific University for seven years. She obtained her B.A. in social work from FPU as well as her M.A. in leadership & organizational studies. She is a project manager with Wells Fargo Bank. Deb states that attending and serving FPU has become a family legacy; her daughter is now a third-generation student, and she is the third family member to serve on the board. Deb is extremely passionate about the university and the impact it has on the lives of its students. Most important, “I love the Lord and I am blessed to have the opportunity to serve the university and honored to be a part of this search committee.” She attends New Covenant Community Church.

Yami Rodriguez – Yami Rodriguez is a current member of the Fresno Pacific University Board of Trustees. Yami received her A.A. from Reedley College, B.A. from California State University, Fresno, and M.A. from FPU. She is the director of programs at Youth Leadership Institute. Since 1999, Yami has worked on higher education and policy issues. She is an advocate to have youth at the table in making positive policy and social sustainable change in our community. Yami is a founding board member of Central California Latino Network and founding director of My Sister’s Closet. Yami and her husband together pastor United Faith Christian Fellowship Mennonite Brethren Church.

Gary Wall – Gary Wall is the district minister for the Pacific District Conference of Mennonite Brethren Churches. In this role he also serves on the Board of Trustees for Fresno Pacific University. He has his B.A. from Fresno Pacific University, M.Div. from Mennonite Brethren Biblical Seminary and D. Min. from Gordon Conwell Theological Seminary. He has pastored churches in Fresno, San Jose, Visalia and most recently Lodi. Gary is married and has two sets of twin daughters. He attends the Neighborhood Church in Visalia.

Ken Fransen – Ken Fransen is a former board member who served as chair for one year. He is now the general counsel for the university and serves as a resource to the committee in a non-voting capacity.


Valerie Rempel – Valerie is a faculty representative on the search committee. She received her M.A. at Mennonite Brethren Biblical Seminary and her M.A. and Ph.D. from Vanderbilt University. She is associate dean and associate professor of history and theology. She attends College Community Church, Mennonite Brethren in Clovis, California. Valerie was recently appointed the founding director of the Center for Anabaptist Studies, a joint initiative of the seminary, the undergraduate biblical and religious studies department, the Center for Peacemaking and Conflict Studies and the Center for Mennonite Brethren Studies. The mission of the new center is to foster communication regarding the study of Anabaptist theology, history, ecclesiology and peacemaking among scholars, students, church leaders and persons with potential to influence the church and world in order to encourage a vibrant Christian witness shaped by Jesus’ call to be salt and light in the world.

Kevin S. Reimer – Kevin is the dean of the School of Humanities, Religion and Social Sciences and professor of psychology at Fresno Pacific University. He has a B.A. from the University of California, Davis; an M.Div. and Dip. C.S. from Regent College, Vancouver; and a Ph.D. from Fuller Theological Seminary. Kevin attends First Presbyterian Church in Fresno. His research considers moral identity through natural language processing. He co-authored books, including The Reciprocating Self (InterVarsity, 2005) and A Peaceable Psychology (Brazos, 2009). He recently authored Living L’Arche (Continuum, 2009) and co-edited the forthcoming Virture Ethics, Exemplarity, and Ultimate Value (Routledge, 2012). His current book project details spiritual identity in the Saints of 405. Kevin grew up in the San Francisco Bay area.

Richard Unruh – Richard is a professor of political science, chair of the Social Science Division and chair of Faculty Senate. He is also the faculty non-voting representative on the Board of Trustees. Richard received his B.A. from FPU, his M.A. from the University of Washington and his Ph.D. from the University of California, Santa Barbara. He is a member of North Fresno Mennonite Brethren Church. Richard has a strong interest in maintaining and strengthening the academic quality of Fresno Pacific University.

Linda Hoff - Linda Hoff is the director of teacher education at Fresno Pacific University. She has been at FPU for more than 20 years, always working in teacher education. Linda has her B.A. from Occidental College, her M.A. from FPU and recently received her Ph.D. in education with research interest: clinical experience (student teaching) and partnerships between universities and school districts from Claremont Graduate University. She is a member of University Presbyterian Church. Linda states, “I love working at FPU! I’m proud of what we do here in the field of education.”

Administration, Staff and Student

Jaime Ramirez – Jaime is an alumnus of Fresno Pacific University and has been here since 1977 (except for one year 1981-1982) as both student and coach. He now serves as head men’s soccer coach. Jaime received his M.A. in bilingual cross-cultural education from FPU. He attends Mennonite Community Church.

Carol DeBellis – Carol is the director of human resources at FPU. She received her B.S. in business management from University of Phoenix. While one of the newest members of the staff, her position has allowed her the opportunity to interact with many different parts of the FPU community. She states she is honored and humbled to participate in the search for the next leader at Fresno Pacific University. Carol attends Sonrise Church in Clovis.

Alan Ours – Alan is the vice president, chief information officer, at Fresno Pacific University. He obtained his B.A. in mathematics/computer science from Ball State University, Indiana, and his M.S. in information/communication sciences from Kings College. Alan is a member of the president’s cabinet. He has worked in higher education and technology for 20 years, and has always been involved in music ministry at his local church. Alan attends New Covenant Community Church.

Cindy Steele – Cindy is the executive director of regional centers at FPU. She has her B.A. from Pepperdine University; multiple subject teaching credential from California State University, Northridge; M.A. and M.F.C.C. from Azusa Pacific University; and is pursuing her doctorate in higher education leadership from APU. Cindy has worked at FPU for more than 11 years. Presently she oversees and coordinates all aspects of the regional center operations from Bakersfield to Merced including enrollment, staffing, strategic planning, marketing, budgeting and services. She says, “We have a great regional center team that works very hard to serve the students and provide quality education.” Adult learners are her passion. She attends Fresno First Baptist.

Angulus Wilson – Angulus Wilson is the university pastor at FPU. He received his B.A. in social work from FPU, his M.A. in leadership evangelism from Wheaton College and his D. Min. in leadership. Angulus is also working on his M.Div. from Birmingham Theological Seminary. He is the pastor of New Beginnings Baptist Church.

Robert Leitgeb – Robert Leitgeb is the director of technical operations and IT projects at Fresno Pacific University. He is also the president of Staff Caucus. His B.B.A. is from Idaho State University and he is completing master’s in educational technology from FPU. Robert is very relational and admires good leadership. He also enjoys working with individuals who challenge and improve him. He attends Koinonia Christian Fellowship in Hanford, California.

Gonzo Villegas – Gonzo Villegas is a senior at Fresno Pacific University studying political science. He is the traditional undergraduate student body president and serves as student representative on the FPU Board of Trustees. Gonzo is excited to see God work through our university president. He attends St. Johns Cathedral.

Diana Bates Mock - Diana Mock is the executive director of university communications at Fresno Pacific University. She has her B.A. in mass communication from California State University, Fresno, and M.A. in leadership and organizational studies from FPU. Diana has worked at Fresno Pacific University for more than 10 years, and is an adjunct faculty in the School of Business. She is active in the Fresno community and attends NorthPointe Community Church.

Arlene Mack – Arlene Mack is the administrative assistant to the president. She has worked at the university for 15 years. Arlene cares deeply for the university and enjoys making sure the president is well prepared to represent the university at the highest level. She attends Riverpark Bible Church.

Community Leaders

Don Eskes – Don Eskes is currently retired from business but on staff at the Fresno Rescue Mission. Since 2004, he has been committed to help “the least, the last and the lost of our world,” Isaiah 58:10-11. He received his B.S. in industrial technology from California State University, Fresno and took graduate classes at CSUF and UC Davis. Don currently serves on the Seminary Theological Committee of the FPU Board of Trustees. He is also involved with the community and community activities. Don currently attends The Bridge (Evangelical Free Church) and was a member of Butler Mennonite Brethren Church from 1993-2010.

Joan Eaton – Joan Eaton is owner/broker with Guarantee Real Estate and Home Loans. She has her B.A. from Stanford University, and her M.A. in education and M.B.A. from UCLA. Joan is involved in many community activities. She states, “Our community cares deeply for FPU and wants a new president to have an active relationship with our region.” She attends St. Columba’s Church.