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Central California Life Magazine

Fresno Pacific University's Spring Commencement to Host U.S. Senate Chaplain

May 01, 2017 03:11PM ● By Melanie Heisinger

Courtesy of the Fresno Pacific University Facebook page.

U.S. Senate Chaplin Barry C. Black will give the address to well over 400 graduates Saturday, May 6, 2017. The ceremony starts at10:00 a.m. in Selland Arena, 700 M St., Fresno. The title of Black’s speech will be: “Refusing to Accept Failure as an Option.”

Black, D.Min., Ph.D., is the 62nd Chaplain of the United States Senate. “We are very excited to have Dr. Black address our new graduates. This inspiring speaker brings a wealth of experience and a depth of understanding that will provide wisdom for our newest alumni as they enter a new phase of life,” said Richard Kriegbaum, Ph.D., who is leading his last commencement as FPU President.

Prior to coming to Capitol Hill, Black served in the U.S. Navy for over 27 years, ending his distinguished career as with the rank of Rear Admiral and the title Chief of Navy Chaplains. His military decorations include the Navy Distinguished Service Medal, the Legion of Merit Medal, Defense Meritorious Service Medal (two medals), Meritorious Service Medals (two awards) and Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medals (two awards).

Among Black’s other awards are the NAACP Renowned Service Award, the Benjamin Elijah Mays Distinguished Leadership Award from The Morehouse School of Religion and the Image Award from the Old Dominion University chapter of the NAACP. A native of Baltimore, MD, Black is an alumnus of Oakwood College, Andrews University, North Carolina Central University, Eastern Baptist Seminary, Salve Regina University and United States International University. He earned doctorates in ministry and psychology. Black and his wife, Brenda, have three sons.

As estimated 476 students—201 from the traditional undergraduate program, 130 from the bachelor’s degree completion program, 127 from the graduate program and 18 from Fresno Pacific Biblical Seminary) will be eligible to participate in this commencement. Graduates come from the main Fresno campus, as well as regional campuses in Merced, North Fresno, Visalia and Bakersfield.

Also on the platform will be Kriegbaum; Donald Griffith, chair of the FPU Board of Trustees; Dale H. Simmons, Ph.D., interim senior vice president/provost; and others. Music will be provided by the university Symphonic Band, Concert Choir and music professor Walter Saul, D.M.A., organ.
The ceremony will be streamed live and available for later viewing at

About Fresno Pacific University

Fresno Pacific University offers undergraduate and graduate programs that stress solid academic preparation and a strong ethical foundation. Over 3,500 traditional and adult students attend classes on the main campus in southeast Fresno or regional campuses in North Fresno, Visalia, Bakersfield and Merced as well as online. The university also reaches about 10,000 students through professional development studies. FPU has the highest four-year graduation rate of any Central Valley college or university, is a Hispanic ServingInstitution, with a Hispanic student population of 35 percent, and is one of the top 10 HSIs nationally in graduating Hispanic students.

The Valley’s only comprehensive Christian university granting master’s degrees, the university is accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges and ranked in the top tier among western universities—master’s category by U.S. News & World Report. FPUis affiliated with the Mennonite Brethren Church, and all employees express a personal Christian commitment and support the Christian mission of the university. A description of the unique quality of FPU as an academic community can be found in the Fresno Pacific University Idea at