FPU degree completion program celebrates 20 years (video link)

The alumni, faculty and staff past and present who built bachelor’s degree completion into the program with FPU’s largest enrollment celebrated 20 years of success May 6.

More than 2,500 graduates of 241 cohorts have graduated from DC since the first cohort began in 1991 under the leadership of Dennis Langhofer, Ed. D., whose retirement was included in the evening festivities in Shehadey Dining Room in Steinert Campus Center.

Speakers included President D. Merrill Ewert, Ph.D.; Vyacheslav Tsvirinko, director, Visalia Center; Cindy Steele, M.A., executive director, regional centers; Arnie Prieb, former DC associate director of admissions; Breck Harris, Ed.D., business faculty; and Allen Carden, Ph.D., academic coordinator, program director, faculty, liberal arts.

FPU was early among higher education institutions in reaching out to adults who wanted to return to school to finish their bachelor’s degrees. In 1990, FPU signed an agreement with Spring Arbor College (Michigan), pioneers in adult degree completion programming, to develop a B.A. program in Management and Human Resources (MHR). (Carden was one of the consultants from Spring Arbor.)

The first cohorts attracted so many students from south of Fresno that courses started in Visalia in 1992. DC came to Bakersfield and Merced in 1996. After renting classroom and office space in churches, schools and other locations, FPU leased centers in Visalia (2003) and Bakersfield (2004). Expanded facilities replaced these centers in 2009. The North Fresno Center opened in 2005, and DC programs were offered in Hanford in 2006 with College of the Sequoias, and in Lemoore in 2007 at West Hills College. A new Merced Center is in the works.

Majors changed as demand grew. In 1994 MHR was reorganized as MOD (Management and Organizational Development), which is now OL (Organizational Leadership).  Christian Ministries (now Christian Ministries and Leadership) began in 1998, Liberal Studies (now Liberal Arts) started in 2001, Business Management in 2005, Early Childhood Development in 2006, Criminology and Restorative Justice in 2007 and RN to BSN in 2009. 

Photo (from left): Wendy Wakeman, Ph.D., former dean of the School of Professional Studies, which oversaw the DC program; Breck Harris; Dennis Langhofer; and Allen Carden chat at the DC celebration.