Pacific Magazine - Volume 15, Number 1
Reaching the Communities
Reaching out to many means its never quitting time
Maybe we ought to have an air horn atop McDonald Hall.
Be at the main entrance to campus at around 5-6 p.m. to see the shift change. Many faculty and most staff head for their cars to end their work day. Commuter students hit the road for home or head for their campus house. Residential students drift dormward to decide dinner plans: line up for the special in Alumni Hall, fix mac and cheese from the cupboard or find a friend with a car for a fast-food run.
The end of an academic day? Not yet—not anymore.
As one line of cars, SUVs and minivans moves past the Fresno Pacific University sign out onto Chestnut Avenue, another line parades into the parking lot and another student body begins class.
Public school teachers and administrators, business people, social services workers, stay-at-home moms and those preparing for professions—these are the students, more than 900 of them each year, of Fresno Pacific Graduate School and the Center for Degree Completion (CDC). Here it’s harder to tell students from faculty, in the classroom as well as the parking lot. The students are older, more experienced and often more demanding. Their goals are practical; their calendars are crowded. They are eager to learn, but may be apprehensive about higher education. They are less likely to blindly follow faculty, but more likely to appreciate anyone who reaches out to them. Dogs don’t eat their homework, but a sick child can cut deep into cramming time.
Like those who attend the traditional undergraduate program, these students come from many places to get an education. Unlike their college colleagues they may go many places to learn. CDC and selected graduate programs meet in Visalia, Bakersfield and other Valley communities as well as off-campus in Fresno. For a few, the first time they walk the Campus Green will be on their way to commencement.
Founded on Christ, Fresno Pacific University is framed in community and focused on service. Proclaiming this university-wide message to this student body, who must experience community without dorm life and spirituality without College Hour, is a call to examine how we do everything from teach English to staff the Business Office. As we do it well, we will expand our mission and ministry in new ways to new people and places.