FRESNO, Calif. (KSEE/KGPE) – Amid Fresno Pacific University’s announcement to cut 16 programs and lay off over 10% of faculty in 2024 due to a “loss of revenue,” a Fresno Pacific alumnus has started a petition calling for the university’s Board of Trustees to resign.
The person behind the petition, Justin St. George, is a Navy veteran and an alumnus of Fresno Pacific University (FPU). He served as a member of the school’s Student Government Association (SGA). He says the layoffs are a result of years of financial mismanagement by the Board of Trustees.
“This is the third wave of layoffs in the last year that the school is facing, they’ve accepted millions in COVID relief funds— honestly, the Board of Trustees needs to humbly exit and let the Christian leaders that make Fresno Pacific University great assume those positions,” George said.
He goes on to point out inconsistencies he sees within the college’s investments.
“[FPU] just unveiled their $15 million culture center, the Warkentine Center, and now they’re cutting their performing arts program and not even offering it. I just don’t understand where the investments are going,” he said.
George says the board’s unwillingness to budge, even with staff and student input, is what creates these circumstances where they are forced to make cuts.
“It’s years of the board’s unwillingness to change and adapt to its community… I saw firsthand what their finances were like and we warned them, the SGA president and I when we were serving, that we need to make changes — we need to start accepting all students and publicly supporting all students,” George said.
He went on to explain how in November 2021, in an effort to provide more resources to students, the SGA attempted to create a Pride Club. However, despite following all the protocols and gathering all the signatures necessary, the board stepped in and stopped the club from forming.
“We protested on campus. We were the first protest I believe to be out there because a student club got denied,” George said. “The Board of Trustees, we’ve seen time and time again they spend more time suppressing free speech on campus than they have actually listening to students.”
Having served six years of active duty in the US Navy, being denied to speak freely on campus hits George a little closer to home.
“I used my G.I. Bill to go to FPU… People like me served for the rights of others to speak freely on college campuses,” he expressed. “It’s alarming the way they treat paying students and Christian leaders that serve as faculty on that campus.”
George believes it is because of the Board of Trustees’ lack of attention to the voices on their campus that they should no longer serve the college. He warns that, if members of the board continue to serve, they could bring the school to bankruptcy.
“If the current board of trustees stays, unfortunately, we will see the bankruptcy of Fresno Pacific University. A lot of these cuts are short term, just to keep the lights on— and again they’re not thinking long term,” George explained. “What I would like to see is the Board of Trustees at Fresno Pacific University resign gracefully and hand the keys over to those Christian leaders willing to do Jesus’ work out there in the community.”
When asked for a response addressing the claims in George’s petition, college officials stated, “Fresno Pacific University has no comment on the petition.”