Wiebe, Janzen and Kriegbaum named president emeritus
Three pivotal Fresno Pacific leaders have been named the first presidents emeritus by the FPU Board of Trustees: (Pictured, from left) Richard Kriegbaum, Arthur Wiebe and Edmund Janzen.
“Whatever success we may be enjoying at Fresno Pacific today is built upon the foundation of the past. We must never forget those who came before us, and served so sacrificially and well,” said President D. Merrill Ewert, who also read citations for each honoree, which are quoted below.
President Arthur Wiebe—1960-1975
When Arthur Wiebe was called to serve as president of the Mennonite Brethren Church’s higher education institution here on the west coast, he brought the vision, recruited a group of young MB scholars to teach, and challenged them to create a “little Stanford” in the Central Valley. Many of those first students went on to study at various graduate schools and then came back to help build this university. Professor of History Paul Toews points to Arthur’s endless faith in young people, his penchant for hiring a young faculty, and then giving them room to grow. He believed in them and celebrated their commitment to this institution. As President, Arthur reflected that same faith in students—believing that even though they might experiment with this or that, in the end, they would make the right choices which meant that the institution didn’t need the prescriptive and parental control style of many other institutions.
President Edmund Janzen—1975-1985
Organizations grow and relationships change over time. Our society was emerging from some very turbulent times, having experienced some wrenching cultural changes when Edmund Janzen became Pacific College president. It was not certain that a small denomination such as the Mennonite Brethren Church had the resources needed to sustain its own university. The denominational connection had been strained for various reasons before Edmund assumed the challenging task of healing broken wounds and strengthening these relationships.Historian and archivist Kevin Enns-Rempel speaks to Edmund’s presidential style: [Edmund] was above all else, pastoral. This was an important quality for Fresno Pacific‘s president in the mid-1970s. Edmund’s gentle spirit was an important part of healing those broken relationships. Edmund also deserves credit for first articulating the need to “broaden the base” at Fresno Pacific. While the implementation of that vision would be carried out by his successors, Edmund pointed the way.
President Richard Kriegbaum—1985-1997
When Richard Kriegbaum became president, Fresno Pacific College was relatively unknown outside the region. A non-Mennonite Brethren from east of the Mississippi River, Rich not only connected the institution with the broader community of Christian colleges and universities, but repositioned it in ways which made it more attractive to others outside the denomination.Professor of Political Science Richard Unruh describes President Kriegbaum as someone who envisioned Fresno Pacific becoming a university some day, and to do so, it had to look more like a university. Above all this meant having an administration building with “class” at the front of the campus—with a design that would become an identifying symbol of the college. The result was McDonald Hall. Paul Toews added that Rich moved us much more toward a set of institutional policies, clarification of job descriptions, program expectations, a rationalizing of administrative procedures, a kind of systems/organizational perspective.
Professor of History Paul Toews suggests each president helped the institution take a step forward: Arthur reached into the larger educational community, Edmund into the larger religious community; Richard reached into the Fresno business community in ways that had not happened previously, introducing a more cosmopolitan flavor to the school and a new kind of piety.