Fresno Pacific University (originally Pacific Bible Institute) also known as FPU is an accredited Christian university located in Fresno, California, United States. It was founded in 1944 by the Pacific District Conference of Mennonite Brethren Churches. The university awarded its first bachelor of arts degree in 1965. The first master's degree program was introduced in 1975.
Mission and Academics
According to its mission statement, "Fresno Pacific University develops students for leadership and service through excellence in Christian higher education."
Fresno Pacific offers Bachelors degrees in 28 fields (and minors in an additional 10) with 45 areas of study. It also offers advanced degrees or credentials in four areas: Education, Individualized Master of Arts, Leadership & Organizational Studies and Peacemaking & Conflict Studies. The university is organized into four schools: The School of Business; the School of Education; the School of Humanities, Religion and Social Sciences; and the School of Natural Sciences. In the most recent U.S. News & World Report college rankings, Fresno Pacific's peer assessment score tied it for 26th in the Western United States in the Universities-Master's category.
Fresno Pacific is accredited through the Western Association of Schools and Colleges.
In February 2009 Fresno Pacific University began offering a "Four Year Graduation Guarantee." FPU already has the highest four-year graduation rate in the Central Valley, with 51 percent of traditional undergraduate students already graduating in four years,compared to 12-15 percent in the CSU system.
The university will guarantee graduation within four years to qualified students entering the traditional undergraduate program. The guarantee is limited to basic graduation requirements for a single major with no minor. Transfer, degree completion and graduate students are not part of the guarantee.
Student responsibilities include:
At the time of its founding, Pacific Bible Institute was located in a large home at 1095 N. Van Ness Ave. There were five staff members and twenty-eight students. By the time the first school year was finished, a former YWCA building at the corner of Tuolumne and L streets (originally designed by Julia Morgan) had been purchased, and the next school year began in this building.
By 1958, land was purchased for the construction of the current campus near the corner of Butler and Chestnut, along with the Mennonite Brethren Biblical Seminary and the new Butler Avenue Mennonite Brethren Church. Construction began on a new classroom building that year, and two dormitory buildings one year later. The classroom building was ready for use in the fall of 1959, but the dorm buildings were not completed until 1961 due to financial difficulties.
The Bible Institute became an accredited junior college in 1961, and decided to develop a four-year program two years later, in 1963. In 1964, Pacific Bible Institute changed its name to Pacific College, and became accredited with the WASC the next year. By 1967, the decision was made to add graduate courses, and the accreditation for the first master of arts program was received from WASC in 1975. The college changed its name to Fresno Pacific College in 1976 and to Fresno Pacific University in 1997.
The Fresno Pacific Sunbirds compete in the Pacific West Conference of the NCAA Division II.  The university sponsors 16 intercollegiate sports, eight each for men and women:
During their days in the NAIA, the Sunbirds boasted one of the top programs in the NAIA, finishing in the top five of the NACDA Directors' Cup in each of their last five seasons as a member (2007-2012). FPU has won a total of 58 conference titles and 13 national titles. Within the last five years, FPU has won national titles in Volleyball, Men’s Swimming & Diving, Women's Swimming & Diving, Men’s Tennis and Women’s Tennis. They’ve also taken home conference titles in Men’s Basketball, Men’s Soccer and Men's Track & Field, and garnered national attention in Men’s Water Polo, Women’s Soccer, Baseball and Women’s Track and Field. The university has hosted a number of NAIA special events, including the Track & Field National Championships, Men’s Soccer Nationals and a round of the NAIA World Series.
The Women’s Volleyball program was dominant at the NAIA level, winning four consecutive national titles from 2007-2010 including an undefeated 38-0 season in 2009. FPU won the 2010 title without dropping a single set in the entire national tournament. The Sunbirds have consistently defeated crosstown institution NCAA Division I rival Fresno State of the Mountain West Conference, with a 7-1 all-time record against the Bulldogs.
On June 1, 2011, the university announced that it had accepted an invitation to join the Pacific West Conference in NCAA Division II competition, joining fellow Golden State Athletic Conference (GSAC) members Azusa Pacific University and Point Loma Nazarene University, and California Pacific Conference (CalPac) member Holy Names University as part of the conference's expansion from 10-14 members. While the majority of sports will compete in the PacWest, water polo will join the Western Water Polo Association (WWPA). The Sunbirds will compete in conference play beginning in the 2012-2013 academic year. They will be eligible for conference championships and awards immediately but ineligible for NCAA postseason play for the first two seasons during the transition process.
On July 11, 2011, Fresno Pacific along with fellow conference mates, Azusa Pacific and Point Loma Nazarene, learned that their application for NCAA membership had been approved. The 2011-2012 athletic season marked the final one in GSAC and NAIA competition for the Sunbirds. The 2012-2013 season marked the beginning of Pacific West Conference play for FPU. The Sunbirds experienced immediate success, finishing second in the 14-team league in men's soccer, women's volleyball, men's basketball and men's tennis. The women's volleyball team cracked the NCAA Division II top 10, the only transitioning school to do so in any sport.
Fresno Pacific has a reputation for turning out an extraordinary amount of professional athletes for a school of its size. FPU currently has close to 50 alumni playing professionally in numerous sports, with the highest number coming from women's volleyball, men's soccer, men's basketball and baseball.
At the 2012 United States Olympic Trials, FPU had four alumni competing in swimming and track & field. Women's swimmer Cheyenne Coffman finished 10th in the nation in the 100 backstroke, narrowly finishing behind Missy Franklin and Natalie Coughlin while triple jumper Ethan DeJongh placed 15th in the USA in the triple jump. FPU has a number of hopefuls for the 2016 Olympics from multiple countries, including Fiji national record holders Milika Tuivanuavou (triple jump, shot put) and Eugene Vollmer (triple jump).
Since 2006, FPU has had five players selected in the Major League Baseball Draft. In 2011, Chris Schwinden became the first former Sunbird to reach the major leagues, debuting with the New York Mets.. That same year, the FPU baseball program beat out Fresno State and Fresno City College to have the first local college player selected in the MLB draft when pitcher Jesse Darrah went in the 8th round to the Arizona Diamondbacks.
FPU has had four alumni go on to reach Major League Soccer. Former Sunbird Pablo Campos went on to win the MLS Cup with Real Salt Lake and is currently a star forward for the Minnesota United FC of the North American Soccer League. In 2013, FPU alum Paul Islas became the first NCAA Division II player selected in the MLS Draft when he was selected in the first round of the supplemental portion by Chivas USA.
The FPU men's basketball program has continuously put out professional athletes both overseas and in the United States. In 2010, alum James Lewis became the first FPU player to be selected in the NBA Development League draft, being selected by the Maine Red Claws. He was selected in 2011 as well by the Austin Toros. In 2013, FPU guard John Taylor led NCAA Division II in scoring at 27.5 points per game and declared for the NBA Draft.
The athletics mascot is Sunny the Sunbird. Sunny is a much loved figure in the campus community.