Written by The Business Journal Staff
Dale Simmons, Interim Provost/Senior Vice President
Fresno Pacific University
Education: Ph.D., Drew University in New Jersey, modern history and literature
Family: My wife, Jodi, and daughters Katherine and Meredith are the joy of my life. Okay, they will also tell you that a big part of my heart belongs to a liver-and-white cocker spaniel named Henry. Jodi works as a children’s librarian at a local public library and is treated like a rock star by her adoring minions. Katherine, who goes by Kat, is married to Chris and they live about a half hour from our home in Elgin, Illinois. Meredith, who goes by Mer, still lives at home, but has recently become engaged to her boyfriend Chuck. Henry is unattached — okay, so he’s pretty attached to me.
Tell us a little about your duties at Fresno Pacific University.
I serve as the chief academic officer and as such am over all the academic programming at our five campuses, undergraduate and graduate, face-to-face and online. However, as the second-ranking administrative officer of the university under the president, I am also responsible for the day-to-day operations of the university, freeing the president to focus more on the external relations of the institution. Serving at an institution of higher education that is firmly grounded in the Mennonite Brethren tradition of the Christian faith, the ultimate goal of all that I do is to ensure that the university is continually improving in service to Christ and our students.
How do you like the Fresno area, Dale Simmons?
I’ve spent the bulk of my life in the upper Midwest, which is quite literally a polar opposite to Fresno, weather wise. The difference is that six months out of the year, Chicagoans complain about the cold, whereas six months out of the year Fresnans complain about the heat. Among the things that I enjoy about the Central Valley is the richness of flowering plant life that seems to mock the extreme heat and near total absence of rain. This rich diversity and tenaciousness is mirrored in the people of the region. Having waited out the peak of the tourist season, I look forward to exploring Yosemite and Sequoia National Park, among other things.
What do you see in the future for Fresno Pacific University, Dale Simmons?
Without minimizing the serious challenges that every institution of higher education is facing today, I believe that FPU has a very bright future . . . as long as it has the will and the capacity to stay true to its mission while continuing to embody that mission in new and creative ways. Among other things, we anticipate significantly expanding our service to adult learners through our graduate, degree completion, online and continuing education programs, while continuing to refine residential campus aimed at “traditional” undergraduate students. Regardless of the type of student served, or the manner in which the curriculum is delivered, our goal will remain ensuring that all programs are mission-focused and of the highest quality possible. Equally important, as we have done since the day of our founding, FPU will continue to welcome and serve students of various faiths, or no faith at all.
How do you find balance with being a religious institution in what seems like an increasingly secular world, Dale Simmons?
By focusing intently on the two greatest commandments of the Jewish and Christian faiths, i.e. “Loving God with all of our heart, soul, mind, and strength, and loving our neighbor as ourselves.” As such, we sincerely believe that helping persons, all of whom are of infinite worth and value precisely because they are all created in the image of God, to align their lives with God’s will is ultimately in the best interest of the individual and society, both here and in the hereafter.
What drew you to the world of academia?
What was the very best advice you ever received, Dale Simmons?
Act justly, love mercy and walk humbly with your God.
What was your very first job and what did you learn from it, Dale Simmons?
My first job was as a paper carrier at the age of 8 or 9. It taught me discipline and hard work in that no matter what, the work had to be done, every day, without fail, no matter what the weather (I was living in southern Michigan at the time).
What do you like to do in your spare time, Dale Simmons?
Spending time with my family, reading, thrifting, going to museums.