A leader with a long commitment to Christian higher education and expertise in student services and enrollment has been selected as the next president of Fresno Pacific University.
André Stephens will assume the presidency July 1, 2022.
“Dr. Stephens has the knowledge, experience and commitment to take Fresno Pacific University into the future, with a focus on students,” says FPU board chair Joshua Wilson. “Student success has always been the heart of our mission, and changes in the lives and needs of people heading into and attending college, either right out of high school or as adults, call for new ideas.”
As a Christian university, FPU has the opportunity to make a positive impact on the world, shaping thought and culture in ways that serve the public good and the kingdom of God, Stephens says.
“Beth and I were drawn to Fresno Pacific because of its clarity of mission, partnership with the church and commitment to students,” he says. “We are thrilled to join the FPU family and look forward to contributing to the ongoing success of the institution.”
Stephens and his wife, Beth, a Biola alumna, have three children.
Stephens succeeds Joseph Jones, who will complete five years of service. President Jones’ work, including partnerships built with area agencies such as community colleges and the completion of the Warkentine Culture and Arts and Center, have put FPU in a strong position, Wilson says.
“We have greatly appreciated the time Dr. Jones and his wife, Yvette, have spent with FPU and the progress the university has made under his leadership, Stephens says. “We wish them both all God’s blessings in what I’m sure will be an active retirement.”
Stephens has 30 years of experience in Christian higher education in California, most recently as vice president for student development at Biola University, a post to which he was appointed in 2016. Serving in this cabinet-level role, he led a team that provided authentic, meaningful learning experiences to foster the Christian character of students through areas such as spiritual development and chapel programs, athletics, new student orientation and community life, comprising the offices of Housing and Residence Life, Student Care, Global Student Programs and Development, Commuter Life, Campus Engagement, the Student Health Center, the Learning Center and Student Government.
Before moving into the vice presidency, Stephens was associate vice president of university admissions. A member of Biola’s enrollment management team since 1991, he started as an admissions counselor and was promoted into increasing roles of responsibility and leadership. During his tenure in admissions, Stephens was sponsored for participation in Harvard’s Institute for Educational Management. Under his leadership, Biola saw 12 consecutive years of enrollment growth.
Beyond his professional duties, Stephens served Biola and Christian higher education in a variety of ways. He was on a number of university committees and task forces, including the Council for Student Success, chairing the President’s Administrative Council and the Student Health and Wellness Committee. He also developed the Emerging Leaders program to provide professional development for top employees. He has most recently led Biola’s COVID-19 campus response team.
An active participant in professional organizations, Stephens served as the president of the North American Coalition for Christian Admissions Professionals (NACCAP) and received the group’s “Admissions Officer of the Year” Award in 2012. He has also participated as a facilitator and mentor for the Council for Christian Colleges & Universities (CCCU) Leadership Development Institute. He currently serves as chair of the CCCU Commission for Chief Student Development Officers.
Stephens completed his bachelor’s degree in Communication with a public relations emphasis from Biola, his master’s in Speech Communication with an emphasis in intercultural/interpersonal communication from California State University at Fullerton and his doctorate in Education with an emphasis in higher education administration/student affairs from Claremont Graduate University.
Fresno Pacific University is California’s Central Valley’s only accredited Christian university, connecting every student’s untapped potential with unlimited opportunity for professional, personal and ethical growth. Nonprofit and independent, FPU offers more than 100 areas of study to about 4,000 traditional undergraduate, adult degree completion, graduate and seminary students at the main campus in Southeast Fresno and throughout the Valley at regional campuses in North Fresno, Visalia, Bakersfield and Merced as well as online.