FPU opens Visalia Center


FPU Visalia Center built with adult students in mind

by FPU Communications

The new Fresno Pacific University Visalia Center expands services to students and employers and reinforces the university’s longstanding commitment to quality education and ethical leadership. 

Faculty and staff have moved into the 35,500-square-foot center, and students will begin bachelor’s degree completion and master’s degree programs May 4. There are 18 classrooms, as well as an event room for local meetings and two computer labs. The location at Plaza Drive and 198 allows easy access for people from adjoining communities like Hanford, Tulare, Kingsburg and Dinuba. “It truly is a regional campus,” says Cindy Steele, executive director of regional centers.

All classrooms have wireless Internet access. Professors can use the computer labs during class, and students can come in at their convenience for research and homework. The center is designed with adult students in mind.

“The layout of the interior of the building is specifically designed per Fresno Pacific’s needs and the way that they deliver education,” says Harvey May, president and owner of Paloma Development. Area firms were used for the project: In addition to Paloma, Mangano Company, Inc., was co-developer, the architects were Canby Associates and TaylorTeter Partnership and the builder was B.J. Perch Construction.

“The facilities provide an excellent environment for study, an excellent educational experience,” says Vyacheslav Tsvirinko, director of the Visalia Center. The new center also has parking for 200 cars. “That’s an increase from 64 cars,” Tsvirinko says, referring to the old building.

Paloma was involved in the first Visalia Center, about two miles east of the current site. That 10,000 square-foot-site is now too small. “I think that speaks volumes about Fresno Pacific’s role in our community, and the pent-up demand that Visalia had for a four-year university experience,” May says.

That parking and other improvements will be put to good use. Adults continue to be the fastest-growing part of higher education in the Valley, California and across the country. Nationally, about 40 percent of the 16 million college students in the U.S. are 25 and older. Bachelor’s degree completion programs are open to adults with about two years of college credit. Graduate students are often professionals in need of advanced education.

The Central Valley is a strong market for adult programs. Compared to other parts of California, it has fewer residents with bachelor’s degrees but more with an associate degree or some college credit. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 25.9 percent of Americans 25 or over have bachelor’s degrees. California is 13th among the states with a 28.5 percent. Within the state, San Francisco County has a 47.8 percent graduation rate, while Fresno County’s rate is 19 percent, Kern County’s is 15.2 percent and Tulare County’s is 10.5 percent.

FPU was part of the first wave of adult programs in 1991, when classes met in various locations. Centers opened in Bakersfield in 2004 and in Visalia in 2003. The North Fresno Center was added in 2005 and centers came to the College of the Sequoias in Hanford and West Hills College in Lemoore in 2006 and 2007, respectively.

Since then the university has consistently invested in the facilities, instruction and services adults need. Degree completion classes meet in the evenings and groups of students, known as cohorts, go through the program together to support one another and learn together. Graduate classes also meet in the evenings and offer some online options. Faculty are experts who are as committed to helping students succeed as they are to their field of study. Tuition is competitive with similar programs.

Beyond academics and cost lies the added value that defines FPU: ethical development. “Employers know about the values that we emphasize. They trust our students to bring those sound ethical values when they hire them,” says Stephen Varvis, vice president for enrollment management.

The new center will build on FPU’s already strong reputation in the Visalia area. “Students who have been here have had a positive experience,” Varvis says. “They’ve learned something, they’ve grown and they’ve accomplished their goals.”

Information about the FPU Visalia Center programs is available online.

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