Former president returns to lead university
Fresno Pacific University press release
The Fresno Pacific Board of Trustees unanimously appointed Richard Kriegbaum as 12th president of the university at a meeting September 16. In addition, they endorsed a new leadership model that increases the role of the provost.
Kriegbaum will focus on community relations and external duties, while Provost Stephen Varvis, adding the title of senior vice president, assumes a larger role in the day-to-day operations of the main campus and regional centers. The changes are effective immediately.
“I am very grateful to Dr. Kriegbaum for accepting this assignment,” says Board Chair John Thiesen. “He has long been a friend of the university and has undeniable skills in leadership and strategic thinking. He and Dr. Varvis have complementary strengths and together make a team that will be very advantageous for Fresno Pacific.”
Board members expressed their understanding that many students are seeking more information regarding the September 11 resignation of Pete Menjares. “We care deeply about and pray for our students, and Gary Wall, conference minister, and I were happy to pray with them and for them Tuesday night. Their well-being is foremost in our minds,” Thiesen says.
Kriegbaum was FPU president from 1985 until 1997, a time when the university increased its profile and role in Fresno and the Central Valley. He joined the university (then Fresno Pacific College) in 1984 as administrative vice president, coming from Wheaton College. Since his presidency Kriegbaum has remained connected to the university, teaching distance-learning courses through the Office of Continuing Education and serving as interim dean of the School of Business. He also spent eight years as CEO of United Way of Fresno County and consulted with a wide variety of nonprofit organizations and institutions of higher education on leadership and organizational development.
“The board and senior leadership have done a marvelous job of setting the course for FPU, with plans in place for finances, facilities and academic development,” says Kriegbaum. “It’s wonderful to be a part of making these goals a reality.”
Varvis has played many roles at FPU since joining the staff as business manager in 1985. Before becoming provost in September 2012—where he oversees all academic areas as well as student life and spiritual formation—he served as FPU’s first vice president for enrollment management. He has also been director of business and civic relations in the Advancement Office, dean of the undergraduate college and faculty member.
Going forward the focus will remain on FPU’s strong commitment to academics and student development. “There is a great deal of work ahead of us, but we have what we need for the continued success of our students and this university,” says Varvis. “We have a strong team of vice presidents, deans and leaders at all levels.”
Kriegbaum has a bachelor’s degree from Wheaton College, a masters from Ball State University and a doctorate from State University of New York, Buffalo. He is the author of the book Leadership Prayers, published by Tyndale House in 1998. He and wife Peggi, a staff member in the FPU Office of Continuing Education, attend Butler Church, adjacent to the FPU main campus.
Varvis has a doctorate from Claremont Graduate University and a bachelor’s degree from California State University, Fresno. He and wife Teri belong to University Presbyterian Church (PC USA), Fresno.