Varvis brings variety of experience to appointment as provost
If experience and the ability to wear many professional hats are any indications of success, the selection of Stephen Varvis, Ph.D., as provost for FPU was inspired.
That’s certainly a sentiment shared by President Pete Menjares. “I can’t think of anyone more qualified than Steve. He’s the total package,” Menjares said.
Since coming to FPU in 1985, Varvis—interim provost since January 2011—has served as business manager, undergraduate dean, director of business and civic relations and, most recently, vice president of enrollment management. Through it all he has been a member of the history faculty, full time for five years and chairing the history department and the Division of Interdisciplinary Studies.
A native of Los Angeles who has lived in Fresno since 1969, Varvis has a doctorate from Claremont Graduate University and a B.A. from California State University, Fresno. His wife, Teri, teaches in the Clovis Unified School District. Their son, Nathan, is a 2011 graduate of FPU now pursuing a master’s in the marriage and family therapy at Fresno Pacific Biblical Seminary.
As provost, Varvis oversees all academic areas as well as student life and spiritual formation. At the center of his plate is FPU’s reaccreditation through the Western Association of Schools and Colleges, one of six regional associations in the United States that evaluates the quality of colleges and universities. Fresno Pacific has been accredited since 1965.
Indeed, on the office wall overlooking his desk is a framed poster of the Assessment Cycle, a system to measure and improve learning and teaching. “Continuous improvement is the purpose and goal of accreditation. The reaccreditation process helps us analyze the work we do as professors and in our academic programs and to further meet the needs of our students,” Varvis said.
Teaching has been the constant of Varvis’ career, and he is eager to return to the academic side of the university. “Some of my most rewarding moments were when I was dean of the undergraduate college,” he said of the post he filled from 1997-2003. “I’m enjoying being back at the academic heart of the university.”
A Christian university has a unique mission. “We must be solidly academic, preparing students for professions and graduate study in all our academic fields, from the sciences to the humanities to business and education, and we must serve our churches and support the spiritual and moral development of our students. Fresno Pacific is a challenging and rewarding place to serve,” Varvis said.
Much as Menjares, president since August, says he will look to Varvis for knowledge of FPU, it is Varvis’ knowledge of and passion for faculty, students and teaching that makes him the natural choice for provost. “This is the chance for Steve to use all his giftedness and experience to lead the academic affairs of the university into the future,” Menjares said.
With Varvis stepping down as enrollment VP, two interim appointments will make sure the process of attracting and serving students continues.
Jon Endicott, director of degree completion and graduate admissions, will also serve as interim vice president of enrollment management, overseeing traditional undergraduate recruiting in addition to DC and grad. Cindy Steele, executive director of regional centers, will add the new position of interim vice president of student services, supervising student accounts, financial aid and related areas.
Endicott started his present position in 2009. From 1996-2002 he was in the traditional undergraduate enrollment department as associate director, then director of college admissions. His B.A. is from Concordia University and his M.A. is from the University of California, Irvine. “Jon has proven himself in the recruitment area,” according to Menjares.
A member of the FPU staff since 2000, Steele has a B.A. from Pepperdine University and a master of arts and a master’s in marriage, family and child counseling from Azusa Pacific University, where she is pursuing a doctorate. “She’s service-oriented and people-oriented,” Menjares said.