New president speaks of hope at opening convocation
President Pete Menjares brought a message of hope in his first President’s Convocation.
“This university has gone through significant changes in the past five to seven years,” Menjares told a full house of students, faculty and staff August 29 in the Special Events Center on the main campus. The name of his presentation, and the theme for the academic year, is “Abounding in Hope in Times of Change.”
FPU has reorganized into four academic schools, added a seminary, begun a faculty ranking system, started the process of joining the National Collegiate Athletic Association Division II and opened and expanded regional centers in Merced, North Fresno, Visalia and Bakersfield. In addition, enrollment has grown 50 percent to 3,600 students. All this before Menjares was appointed 11th president.
In times of change, “it’s important for us to remember the main thing,” Menjares said. “That we are founded on Christ.” That foundation is the link between hope and change. “God…will overflow our hearts with hope,” Menjares said.
As the traditional school year begins (classes started August 27 on the main campus), Menjares noted points of hope he has already seen in his first month as president:
- Hope and context—FPU’s location, while presenting challenges, is part of what makes the university what it is. “There is despair in the city, but if you look you can see the signs of hope everywhere,” Menjares said. FPU can be part of transformation in Fresno.
- Hope and calling—“There is no doubt in our hearts,” Menjares said of himself and his wife, Virginia, “that God has called us to this place for such a time as this. Where God calls you, you make that a better place for your presence there.”
- Hope and service—Menjares thanked faculty and staff, asking them to stand for applause. “I have seen hope in the hearts and the hands of those who have built the university,” he said.
- Hope and learning—Education is FPU’s purpose. “We are a university. We are a community of learners,” Menjares said. “We serve our students by teaching, mentorship and advisement—by being part of their lives.”
- Hope and community—FPU combines the best of the modern university and the liberal arts college with a holy mission. “It’s a wonderful place to serve,” Menjares said.
Menjares came to FPU from Biola University, where he spent 18 years as a teacher and administrator. His Ph.D. is from the University of Southern California: his M.A. is from California State University, Dominguez Hills; and his B.A. is from Vanguard University.
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