He’s been on the job since July, but inauguration welcomes FPU President Stephens

By Nicholas Steele
Syrinx Staff Writer

Fresno Pacific University inaugurated its newest president, Dr. André Stephens, in ceremonies March 31 at the university’s Special Events Center, in front of a crowd of faculty, students, staff and the Stephens family.

The FPU campus is already familiar to Stephens, who has actually been in the job as president of the university since July 2022.

The 90-minute celebration was filled with touching memories, stories, and compliments from people who know and have worked with President Stephens.

In his remarks, an emotional Stephens thanked everyone who has supported him in his career and put him in a position to become FPU’s president. “I vow to steward your support and goodwill to ensure FPU’s greatness into the future,” he said.

President Stephens is a man who has great knowledge and understanding of the faculty, staff and students at Fresno Pacific. President Stephens said one of his prayers for the university is for a stronger, greater imagination for the future than of memory of the past. As the FPU Idea states, it is a guide for forming a vision of the future.

Stephens came to Fresno Pacific in mid-2022 after serving as a vice president at Biola University in La Mirada. Biola president Barry H. Corey spoke at the inauguration and thanked Stephens for everything he had done at that university. Corey added that just being around Stephens makes one want to be a better human being.

The overall theme highlighted Stephens’ character as a God-fearing man that will do everything in his power to make Fresno Pacific University successful.

Social work majors at FPU now have a fast-track master’s degree opportunity

By Kristin Milligan
Social Media Editor

A $1.5 million grant to Fresno Pacific University is launching a program for students earning a bachelor’s degree in social work to pursue their master’s degree in one year instead of two.

The grant from the California Department of Health Care Access & Information will “cover the entirety of the direct cost to establish a new (masters of social work) and operate it,” said Anna James Miller, director of grant funding for Fresno Pacific.

The program will commence in 2024. The hope is that FPU students utilize this opportunity to complete their master’s degree in an efficient manner. At the same time, organizers said the program recognizes the students’ need for a space that supports the combination of their passion for empowering communities with the fundamental practices of their faith.

This $1.5 million plan also aims to provide funding for scholarships and childcare, and removes financial barriers that may prevent people from participating. After the grant expires, university officials expect tuition costs to sustain the program.

Depending on the demand for the program, the university plans on making the master’s program available at two additional campuses by 2026, North Fresno and Visalia, enrolling about 15 students per campus.

“Over the past eight years, our BSW graduates have consistently told us they are looking for an MSW option that is rooted in the values and peace tradition of an FPU education,” School of Humanities Dean Ron Herms said in a written statement. “I am thrilled that we can now offer an accelerated (one-year) MSW program for them and so many other regional social workers with such a well-respected faculty team.”

Herms added that the university expects to roll out a two-year master’s program in social work for students who have their bachelor’s degree in other disciplines.

The state issued $59.4 million in grants to support social work education at 23 schools on Feb. 1. Among seven universities starting new MSW programs, Fresno Pacific’s application had the second highest score. Other schools receiving grants in the category were University of Southern California, Palo Alto University, Point Loma University, San Diego State University, Samuel Merritt University, and California State University, East Bay. The funding also supports the expansion of 16 MSW programs.

The Syrinx seeks student writers, editors for Spring 2023 and beyond

By Tim Sheehan
Syrinx Advisor

The Syrinx, “the student voice of the Sunbirds” at Fresno Pacific University, is actively recruiting for student writers and editors for the Spring 2023 semester and beyond.

Print publication of the university’s student newspaper was interrupted in the spring of 2020 by the COVID-19 pandemic. Efforts are under way now to rebuild a fully operational staff and resume print publication sometime in 2023.

In the meantime, with a limited staff, The Syrinx continues to post new stories online at and to its social media accounts on Instagram and Facebook.

Resumption of print publication, however, will require a significantly larger staff. We have numerous editing positions open that come with scholarship opportunities, and for non-scholarship staff writer/reporter positions there is practical experience and byline credit for stories that are published. Fresno Pacific also has two journalism practicum sections, COM 155 and COM 325, which award academic credit for active participation on The Syrinx team.

As full operation and print publication resume, students on The Syrinx may also have opportunities to attend collegiate journalism conferences and competitions.

In addition to staff writers/reporters, positions to be filled include editor-in-chief, production manager/chief copy editor. copy editors, graphic artist/visual journalist (still photos and/or videography), features editor, arts & entertainment editor, social media editor, and opinions editor.

Previous student journalism experience, such as writing or editing for a high school or college newspaper, is helpful but not required. What’s more important is curiosity about what’s happening at Fresno Pacific and its community; a sense of fearlessness in taking on difficult or challenging topics; attention to accuracy and fairness in reporting and writing; an appreciation for the deadlines necessary to produce an online and print publication; and a strong desire and commitment to help inform your fellow students, as well as FPU faculty and staff, with meaningful and timely stories about issues, features and events on and related to the Fresno Pacific community.

The Syrinx staff meets each Monday during the semester (except for school holidays) at 10 a.m. in the basement of Strasbourg Hall, STRAS 019, and editors meet each Friday at 10 a.m. in the same location.

Students who are interested in more information can attend a staff meeting or contact Syrinx advisor / adjunct instructor Tim Sheehan at

Gathering in gratitude

Clip art illustration /
By Maddy Ward
Syrinx Guest Writer
For the first time since the coronavirus pandemic struck in 2020, Fresno Pacific University hosted its traditional Thanksgiving luncheon for the campus community. About 400 students, staff and faculty attended the Nov. 22 event celebrating the start of the holiday season at the university’s Special Events Center. “The tradition of the Thanksgiving Luncheon has continued for many decades here at Fresno Pacific,” the university’s Student Life department declared in a statement. “We gather as a campus community to welcome all our international students to the American tradition of sharing in the Thanksgiving meal and fellowship.” The luncheon featured an international Parade of Flags to honor and recognize students attending Fresno Pacific from around the world. The event, sponsored through a donation from the FPU board of trustees to cover the cost of the food, also included a performance by Christian illusionist Brady Lee. “The lunch provides a time for the community to engage with one another and to reflect on the diversity of culture we all represent here in this community,” according to the Student Life statement. “In addition, it is a time to celebrate and express gratitude for one another.”

What’s coming up at Fresno Pacific? Here are notable events through December

Hands with magnifier examining a calendar page.
Image by pch.vector on Freepik

Thanksgiving, giving, music, commencement and sports are on the FPU calendar for what’s left of the Fall 2022 semester.

As 2022 and the fall semester near an end at Fresno Pacific University, here are some of the notable events that remain on the calendar for FPU students, staff, faculty and the general public.

Tuesday, Nov. 22, 2022 

Thanksgiving Luncheon, 12 p.m. to 1:30 p.m., FPU Special Events Center, 1718 S. Winery Ave. Being held for the first time in three years, the Thanksgiving Luncheon hosted by FPU’s Campus Life department is an opportunity for students, faculty, and staff to come together, give thanks, and connect with one another over a traditional Thanksgiving meal. A “parade of nations” will recognize the university’s international students. Tickets are free, but are required in advance. Details:

Tuesday, Nov. 29, 2022

FPU Giving Day, online event. National Giving Day is a national day of giving for support of nonprofits. FPU Giving Day is an opportunity for university students, faculty, and staff to contribute to a range of projects including global missions, student health services, academic success, career development, the university’s food pantry, the Casa Pacific retreat center, or improvements to the Steinert Athletic Complex. To donate, visit FPU Giving Day.

Sunday, Dec. 4, 2022

Festival of Lessons and Carols, 3 p.m. and 7 p.m., First Congregational Church of Fresno. The annual Festival of Lessons and Carols presented by Fresno Pacific’s Music Department  celebrates the holiday season with a service of Scripture passages and carols performed by the several student ensembles. The off-campus event is at the First Congregational Church of Fresno, 2131 N. Van Ness Blvd. at Yale Avenue. Tickets: $5 for members of the FPU community, $5 for seniors age 65 and older, and $10 for general admission. Details, tickets:

Friday, Dec. 16, 2022

Graduate Hooding Ceremony, 7 p.m., FPU Special Events Center, 1718 S. Winery Ave,. Graduate students who are completing their Master of Arts degrees in the fall 2022 semester will receive their hoods signifying their accomplishment. Each graduating student can receive free tickets for up to six guests. Tickets are not needed for children ages 5 and younger. Tickets are available from the university registrar’s office through Dec. 15.

Saturday, Dec. 17, 2022

Fall Commencement, 10 a.m., Selland Arena, 700 M St., downtown Fresno. Fresno Pacific will hold its fall commencement for undergraduate, graduate and degree-completion students who are completing their bachelor’s or master’s degrees in the fall 2022 semester. Parking in the Fresno Convention Center main parking lot is $20 per car; parking is also available in the convention center parking structure or at parking meters on the streets surrounding the center.

Upcoming Athletic Events

Thursday, Dec. 1

FPU Sunbirds Basketball vs. Biola University, FPU Special Events Center, 1718 S. Winery Ave. The Sunbirds women’s team hosts Biola University in a PacWest Conference matchup at 5 p.m., while the men’s teams will tip off at 7:30 p.m. Tickets $8 general admission, $6 for students ages 13 to 17 with student ID, $6 for seniors ages 60 and older, $6 for students from the visiting school with student ID. Tickets available online at

Saturday, Dec. 3

FPU Sunbirds Basketball vs. Azusa Pacific University, FPU Special Events Center, 1718 S. Winery Ave. The Sunbirds women’s team hosts Azusa Pacific University in a PacWest Conference matchup at 2 p.m., while the men’s teams will tip off at 4:30 p.m. Tickets $8 general admission, $6 for students ages 13 to 17 with student ID, $6 for seniors ages 60 and older, $6 for students from the visiting school with student ID. Tickets available online at

Friday, Dec. 30

FPU Sunbirds Basketball vs. Dominican University of California, FPU Special Events Center, 1718 S. Winery Ave. The Sunbirds women’s team hosts Dominican University of California in a PacWest Conference matchup at 5 p.m., while the men’s teams will tip off at 7:30 p.m. Tickets $8 general admission, $6 for students ages 13 to 17 with student ID, $6 for seniors ages 60 and older, $6 for students from the visiting school with student ID. Tickets available online at

Art professor urges honors students to value GE classes

FPU art professor Chris Janzen / Photo from FPU biography

Fresno Pacific professor Chris Janzen says general ed classes broaden students’ horizons, strengthen critical thinking.

By Belena Pranger
Copy Editor

Fresno Pacific University art professor Chris Janzen urged scholarship and honors students at the university’s recent honors banquet to consider their general education classes as more than just a set of requirements for graduation.

In his keynote address at the Oct. 13 event in the university’s Rose Garden, Janzen encouraged students to think of their GE classes as a way to enjoy broadening their knowledge in multiple areas of study and as tools to develop critical thinking skills.

“My call to everyone at this banquet is: ‘Stop thinking about GEs as a boring list of boxes to check,’” Janzen said. A general education class provides an opportunity to learn about a subject outside of their major from an expert in the field. “This might be the only time as an English major that you’re going to be taking natural sciences, or perhaps the only time a nursing major would take a painting class.”

Janzen said his speech was inspired by a July 2022 conference he attended in Chicago that focused on classical Greek thinkers like Plato and Socrates, humanist writers of the Renaissance and postmodern philosophers. The conference allowed him to contemplate issues outside of art and understand that an area of study isn’t confined to only one subject.

In the liberal arts, he explained, there is more than just drawing and painting. Art, Janzen said, is a discipline that derives from more than just what most people imagine when they think of a visual artist.

Art can come from subjects like geometry or geography, he added. “Each of these is actually an art,” Janzen said. “There’s an art to thinking about the physical world.” 

The professor said every person brings an artistic skill to whatever is being studied, especially when actively seeking to learn more about the world. And, he added, people who are able to be creative within their profession are also going to be successful in society.

An English major’s awareness of natural science equips them with more ways to write and interpret literature, Janzen said. The nurse who has experienced paint color-mixing will develop a visual awareness that could come in handy when assessing a patient.

General education classes also offer an opportunity to experience other students’ viewpoints within an area of study, he added: “The rest of society is better if we understand a variety of different points of view, if we can embrace diversity.”

Meet Fresno Pacific’s new president

Dr. André Stephens, the 13th president of Fresno Pacific University, began the job on July 1, 2022.

Four months into the job, Dr. André Stephens is ‘listening, learning as he settles into his role as FPU’s 13th president.

By Saraleim Mozqueda Saldana

Editor in Chief

Dr. André Stephens, who worked for three decades at Biola University in southern California, is the newest president of Fresno Pacific University. Stephens was named to the position by the university’s board of trustees in May and started his new job in July.

Stephens, the son of immigrants from Panama, becomes the 13th person to hold the university’s top leadership post in its 78-year history, and only the third person of color to fill the role.

“Beth and I were drawn to Fresno Pacific because of its clarity of mission, partnership with the church and commitment to students,” Stephens said in a statement issued when his hiring was announced. “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, both alumni of Biola University, have three children.

The FPU presidency is the latest step in a long career progression for Stephens, whose ambition was fueled by seeing his parents’ hard work after they came to the United States. He’s not exactly a first-generation student, but he said he can relate to many of the experiences and challenges faced by Fresno Pacific’s first-gen students.

Stephens has already gotten involved in Fresno and the FPU community. In just a few short months he has attended many Fresno Pacific events and is looking forward to more. One of his favorite experiences so far was attending a women’s volleyball game against Biola. He said he loves supporting students at events like the upcoming Pie and Praise as well as the new theater production. 

While it might be expected for a new president to have plans or goals to carry out, Stephens said he is first focused on observing what’s already in place.

Stephens said he believes the role is one that offers the opportunity to make some changes. But, he added, he doesn’t want to “come in with a prescribed, like, ‘This is what we’re going to do,’ without really spending time with the community, listening, learning.”

He has a bachelor’s degree in communications from Biola University, earned his master’s degree in speech communications from California State University, Fullerton, and received his Ph.D. in education from Claremont Graduate University.

Stephens began his career in higher education as an enrollment counselor at Biola University in 1991. Stephens was gradually promoted through various positions of responsibility at his alma mater, culminating with his appointment as the vice president of student development for the past six years.

His career journey took a turn northward when he learned that Fresno Pacific was searching for a new president to succeed Dr. Joseph Jones, who held the position for five years. Stephens started by browsing the FPU website, where he noticed a photograph of student leaders in front of a fountain. He said he was struck by seeing the university’s focus in the students’ faces and realized that he would be a fit candidate for the job.

Stephens said that once he met FPU students in person, he realized he made the right choice. His first student interactions were with the track team. Their school colors caught his attention, but he said their height made him question if they were students. When he spotted the coach, however, he realized they were indeed students. Stephens said his conversation with the team confirmed his faith in his decision.

One thing Stephens said he realizes is that overseeing student life at Biola and serving as president at FPU are two very different things. His role as Biola’s vice president was focused on a very specific aspect of the university. At Fresno Pacific, however, the job is more wide-ranging. As a result, he is focusing on multiple tasks at a time and said he is still growing into the position.

FPU Spring Fling 2022

A Night of Dinner, Dancing, and Dessert for FPU Students

On Friday, April 1, 2022, Fresno Pacific hosted the Spring Fling dance at Moravia Wines & Event Venue. The night consisted of dinner, dancing, and dessert for FPU students. Student Life planned a spectacular event, as many students did not want to leave!

At the beginning of the dance, attendees ate dinner at tables decorated with candies and flower buckets. Student Life was mindful about attendees’ various eating types, as there were vegan, vegetarian, and gluten free options. Students chose between grilled chicken, grilled vegetable kebabs, or vegan sausage for their main entree. Sides included build-your-own pasta salad and bread rolls. Dinner fueled the guests for the dance floor!

The dance floor is where students got to show off their best moves and best outfits. Since the event was held at Moravia, the dress code called for formal to semi-formal attire. We selected the best dressed male and best dressed female to be featured. Pictured are Fernando Lopez and Chelsea Heaton.

Fernando Lopez is a first year liberal studies major at FPU. He showed up to the Spring Fling dance in a sapphire blue mens’ suit from Men’s Wearhouse. To compliment the sapphire blue, he paired it with a brown turtleneck underneath. With his brown shoes to add to the mix, he looked like a million bucks. Fernando stood out in an awesome way!

Chelsea Heaton is a junior business management major at FPU. She looked lovely in a long, flowy, pressed velvet teal dress from Ross. She paired the teal color with black strappy heels. As a finishing touch, she wore a dainty gold necklace. Chelsea looked absolutely stunning!

Spring Fling 2022 was an exciting night for all, as students took amazing photos, ate delicious goodies, and danced the night away. Moravia could not have been a better venue to host the dance. Thank you to Student Life for putting on an awesome event!

Written by: Brandi Aguilera | Copy Editor

Graphics by: Brandi Aguilera

Birds for Pride Demonstration

Why the March Was Necessary to Raise Awareness

On March 16th, students and local religious leaders joined forces in a demonstration organized by Birds for Pride. This event passed through the FPU campus in hopes of garnering awareness to the unjust denial of a formal pride club being allowed on FPU’s campus. The thing that elevated the stakes for a call to action was that the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC), FPU’s accreditation agency, was in town and had representatives on campus. The march was much more than just another showing of unity, it was a move to bring justice to FPU in front of those in charge of bringing accountability to the school. A petition from Faithful America with over 11,000 signatures also paints the picture a little more clearly; Let the LGBTQ+ community feel like they are seen and recognized at FPU.

This, of course, is not the first time Birds for Pride have put pressure on the powers above at FPU. It all stems from FPU’s rejection of a pride club on campus, something that sparked a reaction across the FPU campus and the community around it. Cries of discrimination and censorship soon led to unity within the LGBTQ+ community at FPU in an effort to try and raise awareness to the outright open discrimination they recieved. This community was promised a safe space on campus, however, instead they received a cold shoulder without a plausible explanation.

Fast forward from the beginning of Fall semester 2021 to Spring semester in March in 2022, things have not changed as FPU continues its stance against the formation of a pride club on campus. It is worth noting that many religious leaders around the community, students at FPU, SGA approval, as well as staff members were supporting the movement to finally create a pride club on campus and be among some of the other faith-based universities around the country to open their doors to an LGBTQ+ club. However, despite their best efforts, the Birds for Pride still have not gotten their chance to be recognized as a formal club on campus. Now, more than ever, it is critical to give voice and hope to members of the LGBTQ+ community after Florida and Texas received backlash recently for their anti-LGBTQ+ measures. If FPU is a safe space for all people, why is there a continued pattern of marginalization towards a community that is constantly being silenced? 

To further understand the reason behind the demonstration as well as get some more information to FPU students who are unaware, the Syrinx has decided to interview Justin St. George, FPU senior, US navy veteran, and club president of Birds for Pride.

Why did the pride club choose to have a demonstration/walk out?

“We chose a peaceful demonstration during the accreditation team onsite visit to emphasize the need for WASC to investigate Fresno Pacific University’s diversity and inclusion practices. Earlier this year, we filed a formal complaint with WASC, which was also signed by the SGA President (attached). President Joseph Jones time and time again refused to speak with LGBTQ+ students and even attempted to obstruct the student body and faculty over the last year. He ignored student feedback at a student leadership retreat, censored the decision-making of the Student Government Association and The Syrinx student newspaper, refused to forward our paperwork to the Board of Trustees, sent a cease-and-desist email to the University’s own Diversity Committee, and plagiarized our club recognition form by implementing ‘safe space persons’ policy. President Jones has caused irrevocable damage by leading with his cognitive bias, and not his Christian values. He has endangered the standing of the Central Valley’s only accredited Christian institution and has exposed the school to potential financial and legal liabilities.”

What are you trying to achieve by raising awareness?

“A lot of students are unaware that Fresno Pacific University openly and actively discriminates against LGBTQ+ individuals. FPU is not a safe place for LGBTQ+ students, many feel not comfortable being themselves. Well-qualified students, faculty, and alumni have been turned down job and leadership opportunities because they identified openly as LGBTQ+. We have heard and will continue to hear from students and alumni across decades that have been traumatized by FPU’s diversity and inclusion policies. LGBTQ+ students are not allowed to have a club when it is Student Government approved, yet the school approves and funds a racist, white nationalist club like Turning Point USA. We are hoping WASC considers these circumstances, hears our message, and will listen to the 11,000+ voices that were handed to them thanks to a petition from Faithful America.”

Who were you trying to send the message of unity and strength too?

“LGBTQ+ students and Veterans should not be afraid to be themselves on campus. I served this country so those who chose not to serve, could live free and happy lives. We are called by our faith to love and support all people, but that is simply not happening at Fresno Pacific University.”

Furthermore, the Syrinx also decided to interview Cheyenne Cade, a junior majoring in Business Management at FPU, who was one of the students part of the Birds for Pride peaceful demonstration. 

What made you join the demonstration along with the Birds for Pride club?

“I decided to join the pride club in their demonstration because I believe in equal treatment of all people despite their sexual preferences or identification.”

Why was their message important to get out there?

“The message is important because equality is important. The LGBTQ+ community deserves to have a safe place not only on campus but in the community.”

What do you hope happens in response to this? Whether it be a response by FPU officials or students on campus?

“What I hope to happen is that FPU decides to open their minds and eventually their hearts to the harm they are causing their student body. FPU wants to help the community but they need to start in their own backyard. How does the school expect to be respected when the school doesn’t respect the students and who they are as people? I joined the protest with love and kindness in my heart, hoping FPU can return the favor.”

In the end, it is clear that despite all that is thrown their way, the Birds for Pride will continue to push and hope for a better outcome than what they have been given. It is a testament to how strong the LGBTQ+ community is, and also a symbol of what this school is said to represent, hope.

Written by: Julian Alcaraz | Editor

Graphic by: Liza Larrabee

Continuing Marjaree’s Story


Working with Fresno Pacific students to honor the legacy of Marjeree Mason

In November 2021, residents from Strasbourg 3 and Jost 4 had the opportunity to work on a service project for the Marjaree Mason Center in Fresno, California. The idea for this particular service project arose from Danya Gonzalez. She had come home from an event presented by the center that was recognizing successful businesswomen in Fresno. After reading the provided pamphlet and researching the organization, we were inspired to provide women with basic needs – even if it was only in a small way. 

We encouraged residents to create goodie bags with womens’ care products. Inside were deodorants, toothbrushes, pads, hair ties, and tissues. We attached notes of encouragement to the goodie bags, so the women knew that people were thinking about them and praying for their safety in their newfound home at the center. 

This service project was meaningful, because we served Fresno women affected by domestic violence. Marjaree, herself, was a college student who lost her life at the hands of her ex-boyfriend. As women in higher education, we are incredibly thankful for the resources for women from the Marjaree Mason Center. We understand the necessity of having access to these essential products. Through the collaborative event, our residents and ourselves were able to give a small sense of security back to whoever finds themselves at the center. 

If you or anyone you know is a victim of domestic abuse or violence and needs resources from the center, you can call: (559) 233-4357. Or, visit online The Marjaree Mason Center has an extensive donation list that is always needing to be resupplied. If you wish to help, please send an email to

Written by: Emily Munoz | Guest Writer

Danya Gonzalez | Guest Writer

Graphic by: Cailey Lessel

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