APU names Paul Ferguson new president

This article was originally published on ZU News, with help from Micaela Ricaforte.

On Wednesday, Azusa Pacific named Paul Ferguson, Ph.D., as the university’s next president. He will assume the role on June 1.


Ferguson has an impressive background in higher education. This will be his third time serving as president of a university. He previously served as president of Ball State University in Muncie, Ind. from 2014-16 and the University of Maine from 2011-14. He is currently the founding dean of the School of Science, Technology and Health at Biola University.

Ferguson also previously served as the provost and vice chancellor of Academic Affairs at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville (2006–11), vice president for Research and Graduate Studies at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas (1999–2006) and vice provost and dean of Graduate Studies and Research at the University of Louisiana at Monroe (1993–99).

APU’s presidential search committee believes Ferguson is the perfect man for the job of navigating the university out of the difficult times it has faced over the past year, from the financial deficit to the handbook controversy.

“Dr. Ferguson is an accomplished and admired academic and administrative leader,” said Search Committee Co-chair Elizabeth Maring, JD. “He’s the right person to lead APU with his vast experience, thoughtful leadership and commitment to Christ and biblical principles.”

Ferguson said he is excited to assume the presidential role at APU.

“I’m grateful for this opportunity, and I want to thank the Board of Trustees for the confidence placed in me,” Ferguson said. “I’m devoted to APU’s Christ-centered mission, achieving sustainability, academic advancement and a joy for learning to all our campuses.”

Raised in Hacienda Heights, Ferguson is a Southern California native and currently resides in Yorba Linda. Although he lived in other parts of the country for many years, he still paid attention to what was going on in Southern California and at APU.

“Watching APU from afar, I’m familiar with it and I’ve always had a tremendous amount of respect for what’s gone on at APU,” he said. “I think the institution and its people have done extraordinary things over the last couple decades.”

Ferguson decided to return to Southern California in 2016 to help care for his wife’s parents. He also welcomed the challenge of revamping Biola’s science programs.

Ferguson earned his doctorate at UC Davis, where he focused on toxicology, later going on to become a professor of toxicology and public health. He plans on teaching classes at APU as well, although the details of these classes won’t be ironed out until a later date.


Ferguson said he admires current president Jon Wallace’s commitment to student service.

“I’ve seen how [Jon] interacts with and talks about students,” Ferguson said. “He’s a very good example of a student-centered president … he has truly walked with and fellowshipped with students. I think what [I] can learn from him is tangible love of students.”

Ferguson’s own leadership model places emphasis on creating strategies that unite people towards a shared vision. He developed these leadership skills when he became a dean at the University of Louisiana at Monroe.

“When I became a professor I never thought that I would become a university administrator. That was not the path until the provost of the University of Louisiana pulled me aside and asked me if I had ever considered administrations. He wanted me to infuse administrative position with my love of learning so that the whole university could grow together,” he said. “So I really became a student of leadership, primarily [learning] how [to] inspire, encourage, and chart a course that everybody wants to do. Leadership, strategic planning, vision setting and how to do that in teams and as a community — that’s what a university does.”

Ferguson also said he’s a strong believer in the servant-leadership model.

“He who serves first leads well. It’s not about command and control from the top-down, it’s about encouraging, inspiring and empowering the organization to thrive,” Ferguson said. “That’s where I have been most successful, in getting people to come together and agree on a vision and getting them excited about where they go. That’s where I have developed leadership skills in my career, and learned how to best apply those skills in the community.”


Ferguson recognizes the complexity of APU’s academic structure and community. He plans on getting to know the community “intentionally and strategically.”

“In my past experience as president, I have gone out to every department and met with them. I’m a very relational, engaged person. I want to get to know people, who they are and what they do,” Ferguson said. “I’ll be directly going out into the APU community to seek and to listen. I need to go and see where they think we are and understand where they’re coming from, listening to their hopes and fears.”

In the next few months, Ferguson will meet with constituents from across campus. He said he needs to learn a lot from these constituents in order to form plans for improving the university and bringing it out of the current financial deficit.

“That’s part of my transition, to be doing a deep-dive with the finance office, CFO and cabinet, so I’ll be meeting with leadership over April and May, and have those conversations to be pretty well engaged before I start in June,” Ferguson said. “From now until June 1, we’re just starting to do transition things.”  

Although the current situation APU is in may seem daunting to others, Ferguson said he embraces challenges like this. He described how he created strategic plans in his last two presidential roles to navigate through difficult situations.

“I really think in general, where do I get my most fulfillment, is when we have successfully charted a very challenging course because you don’t always know how it’s going to turn out or where it’s going to take you,” Ferguson said. “You just roll up your sleeves and do the hard work to get there.”

Ferguson said his vision for his first year as president is to listen to community members — students, faculty and staff — to determine what direction APU needs to head in the next three to five years.

“It’s now time to do a new strategic plan that really defines who we are today and the culture we live in and how to be difference makers in the current culture,” Ferguson said. “The ultimate goal, in my opinion, is that APU is the premiere Christian school in the country …  I would hope that in five years APU is the model for what a Christian university should be in the U.S. That means not only in the integration of faith and academics, [but in] practicing Christ-centered academic excellence … not only the graduate but the undergraduate and professional.”

Ferguson said this goal aims to point back to God.

“If we do this right and God really blesses us like I know that he will, then people will say, ‘That’s not easy to do, how did APU do that?’ and [we’ll be able to] point them back to God,” Ferguson said. “When I say let’s be a model, it’s not for pride; it’s to really, truly demonstrate the model of God First at an institution of academic excellence.”

Examining APU’s water usage: Where we were, where we are, where we need to be

In honor of International Water Day, ZU News examined APU’s water usage

Azusa Pacific uses 67 million gallons of water a year on average. Yes — you read that correctly — 67 million gallons.

While this number may seem big, it is actually much smaller than it used to be just four years ago when APU used 83 million gallons in one year. This dramatic decrease of about 19 percent is due primarily to one man — Toney Snyder.

Snyder is the assistant director of environmental stewardship at APU, a position he has held since 2007. He is in charge of making sure the university is responsible with its water usage, power, natural gas and other resources.

“Normally during a drought you would use more water, but we achieved a reduction four years in a row. I think this shows APU is being a good steward of our water,” Snyder said.

Snyder got the job after a class at APU discovered the university was not being efficient with its resources. He looked at all areas where APU could cut down on water. The biggest area by far was exterior usage.

"Watering the fields is the largest [category],” Snyder said. “They say that about 60 percent of your water use will go to exterior usage, keeping your lawns green. I'm guessing we're pretty close to that.”

Snyder found several areas where APU could cut their water usage. One of them involved changing the sprinkler system to smart controllers.

"One of the first projects I did was with water sprinkler controllers. We have 37 of them on campus. They're little boxes, and in each box is a timer and all the different areas of campus are connected to those timers,” Snyder said.

These controllers used to be controlled manually, meaning facilities management workers would have to go around to each one on campus to turn it off. This caused a big problem when it rained because the sprinklers would still go off, and it would be a waste of water.

However, Snyder found grants to convert these sprinkler controllers to “smart” controllers, which you can control from a computer or phone through remote access.

“I spent about $100,000 to convert all 37 controllers to a smart controller. For every single one I submitted a rebate, because the water company says 'Thank you for being a good steward with your water. We're going to give you money back,’” Snyder said. “I invested about $100,000, and I got about $100,000 back in rebates.”  

This switch to smart controllers has saved APU countless gallons of water. Now whenever it rains, facilities workers can simply shut the sprinklers off from wherever they are.

“Typically this time of the year, we shut off our sprinklers for months,” Snyder said. “It's all based on the amount of rainfall we get. When we start getting hot weather again, we just turn the sprinklers back on.”

Snyder also got a grant to replace the sprinkler nozzles on about 18,000 sprinklers on campus. The new nozzles rotate, which allows the water time to sink into a patch of ground before that patch is sprayed again. The old style would just continuously spray an area, which would overwater it and lead to runoff, wasted water.

In addition, APU changed a large portion of their landscaping from grass to xeriscaping, a drought friendly landscape. This is more suited to the location APU is in, a desert.

This process took years, according to Snyder. In the meantime, he looked at other ways the university could use less water.

He put in 15 water bottle filling stations across campus, which allow students to fill their bottles quickly and easily, cutting down on bottled water consumption. The next place he turned was the bathroom.

“We also converted our urinals in the men's restrooms to a pint urinal, which uses a pint of water to flush instead of a gallon. The old style urinals would sometimes use up to two gallons of water,” Snyder said. “We also switched a lot of sinks to automatic faucets.”

While both of these measures save APU thousands of gallons of water a year, they pale in comparison to showers.

“APU is equipped with low-flow shower heads. We did this in 2006, I believe. We put over 1,000 of them in across the dormitories, Bowles, UP and UV,” Snyder said. “The shower head is shaped like a cone with a little lever on the side. If you push the lever, it decreases the amount of water.”

Snyder said these shower heads use two gallons per minute compared to the four gallons a minute from older shower heads. The lever on the side reduces that further to one gallon a minute.

According to Snyder, showers are by far the biggest category of water usage by students. He said the average college student takes 1.6 showers per day, and many of them have no idea how long they’re in there for.

“I bet if all students were aware and made an effort to reduce water, we could save a lot [more],” Snyder said.

Snyder is not alone in thinking showers are an issue. APU senior chemistry major Rachel Roller agreed people need to be more mindful of their shower time.

"The first step is just to be conscious of it. If you remember that water is a precious resource, especially here in California where we're recovering from a drought, maybe you don't need to take a 45 minute shower. Maybe you can take a five minute shower,” Roller said. “I have some friends who just like to play a song while they shower. They'll find one that's about five minutes long and they have to be done by the time the song is finished."

Roller currently serves as a research assistant for Louise Huang, director of APU’s Center for Research in Science (CRIS). Roller is helping Huang on a project on environmental stewardship and sustainability in higher education.

“I ended up researching reasons primarily why evangelical Christians aren't as concerned about the environment,” Roller said. “I started caring about environmental issues a lot more. I realized that as Christ followers we have a responsibility to care about the environment.”

Roller found two primary reasons for Christians not caring about the environment.

“Within the Christian community, there can be a distrust of science, which stems from a few things—the biggest being the evolution debate. Some people think that scientists are out to get Christians, so if they don't believe the theory of evolution, they might also not believe stuff about the environment,” Roller said. “Another big factor we've found is politics, honestly. Evangelical Christians tend to be more conservative, and the environment has historically been more of a liberal concern. I read one study that even if Christians read the Bible and think that they need to steward God's earth, they are hesitant to do anything about it because that would make them seem like a liberal hippy tree hugger. That's a big one.”

Sarah Richart, a professor in the Department of Biology and Chemistry, shared some of Roller’s views. Richart said she has been interested in sustainability from a young age, “way before it was cool.” She was one of the founding members of her environmental club in high school.

Richart spoke about an experience where she visited the Urbana Conference, a mission focused conference that occurs every three years, in 1993. She said she was shocked to find that out of the more than 300 mission groups there, only one was focused on environmental issues.

“We focus so much on salvation, that Jesus is going to come back, so [people think] it doesn’t matter what happens to the rest of the world,” Richart said.

Richart said she admires the steps APU has taken, especially xeriscaping, but thinks there is still room for improvement from the university.

“Because I’m a professor, I think where we’re losing is an educational opportunity,” Richart said. “We could have some kind of event at orientation, a session on sustainability, creation care and stewardship. We could invite students to think about the way they could cut down on thinks like water, power and other resources. It would be great if we could have an environmental studies major and offer more classes on that for people who are interested in that as a career.”

Richart is focused on educating students to be better stewards of the environment. She thinks many students take their resources, including water, for granted.

“We definitely take for granted that we have water delivered to our homes, that it’s clean,” Richart said. “We also take for granted that when we flush the toilet, that’s treated and goes back out safely into the environment.”

As a microbiologist, Richart is an expert on microorganisms, many of which are found in water. She spoke about this aspect in making drinking water safe.

“Water is important from a microbiological perspective, especially clean water,” Richart said. “Separating out drinking water from sewage was a big technological milestone in human health. We started seeing people dying from fewer infectious diseases when we started making clean water accessible, at least in this country.”

Although most of the U.S. has access to clean water, Richart pointed out an event just four years ago that has already faded to the back of the mind for many.

“People who live in Flint, Michigan do not take water for granted. They’re still drinking bottled water. That water has lead poisoning in it,” Richart said. “Depending on where you live in this country, that calls into question whether our water is always safe and whether the people who control the water are always working in our best interest.”

Richart also talked about how a large portion of the world doesn’t have access to clean water. Estimates vary, but approximately somewhere between 788 million and 1.1 billion people don’t have access to clean drinking water across the world.

One group at APU is committed to raising awareness and fighting the global water crisis. Ride for Water is a team of APU students that ride across the U.S. to raise money to donate to charity:water, an organization that works to bring clean drinking water to people across the world.

While Richart admires the Ride for Water team’s work, she also thinks there is a lot of room for improvement on the home front. She suggested students be more mindful of everyday decisions that waste water, including drinking water from plastic water bottles, and their dietary decisions.

“Eating meat requires a lot more water than just eating plants,” Richart said. “Also, certain plant items require a lot of water. In California we have a lot of almond and pistachio farms. Those two nuts are notorious for taking a lot of water. I think a single pistachio nut requires about a gallon of water.”

To some, these everyday decisions may seem like small ones without consequences, but this is simply not true. Richart said many people are uneducated or miseducated about these things. She said just recently China announced that they would no longer accept recyclables from the U.S. This means that all the plastic that people think is getting recycled is actually just getting incinerated or put into a landfill, according to Richart.

Richart, Roller and Snyder are all focused on one thing: educating people on these issues. While they can make a small difference in their personal lives, others will have to start thinking about these issues too and implementing changes to make a noticable difference, like the 16 million gallons of water APU has saved on average across the past four years.

“There do tend to be barriers between Christians and caring for the environment, but I don't think any of those barriers are insurmountable,” Roller said. “Some of the things we can do are listen to each other, seek out evidence, be willing to partner with people we disagree with and the biggest one is to put God at the center of everything we do.”

APU updates student handbook, removes code on same-sex relationships, again

This article was originally published on ZU News.

On Thursday, Azusa Pacific Provost Mark Stanton emailed the APU community that the undergraduate student handbook had undergone a complete revision. This came after the school first lifted, then reinstated the code on same-sex relationships last fall. This update reflected months of feedback from students, faculty, staff, administration and board members.

University Executive Vice President David Bixby was charged by the Board of Trustees to assemble a team and begin changing the handbook. The team included members from Student Life, Campus Pastors, Diversity, University Relations, Faculty Senate and Staff Council.

“The whole thing needed to be changed. What prompted that was the issue back in September, but it was long overdue for an overhaul and a complete change,” Bixby said. “I knew we were going to deconstruct the entire document and start from scratch.”

Entitled “Undergraduate Student Handbook: A Faith and Living Community,” the new handbook is divided into three sections: undergraduate community living values, standards and policies and resources. Each section has several subsections and is completely different than its predecessor.

The changes to the handbook were made by a team of more than 20 people, led by Bixby, examining what areas of the handbook needed to updated. One of the biggest areas regarded LGBTQ+ students and romanticized same-sex relationships on campus.

In September 2018, APU removed the code on same-sex relationships on campus, then reinstated the code later in the same month. In the new handbook, the code has once more been lifted. In its place, the handbook has a section entitled “Sexual Stewardship.”

This section reads, “We affirm a biblical foundation for sexual relationships in full accord with the APU’s Human Sexuality statement. We believe God designed the covenant of marriage and that individuals remain celibate outside of that marriage covenant.”

While the language of the code has been removed, the university still holds the same core values.

“We hold that the full behavioral expression of sexuality is to take place within the context of a marriage covenant between a man and a woman and that individuals, both gay and heterosexual, remain celibate outside of the bond of marriage,” Bixby said. “For us, the challenge is how do we come alongside our LGBTQ+ students … and love them with the love Christ talks about –– love God, love people.”

Bixby said both heterosexual and LGBTQ+ students would face the same punitive action if caught engaged in sexual activity on campus. This idea of equal treatment was central to the entire handbook update, according to Stanton.

“We want to make sure we apply our standards in a uniform fashion to all students, so there’s a sense of it being applied in a non-discriminatory manner. It doesn’t apply to one group and not others. It applies to all students in that way,” Stanton said. “That is fundamental to what we’ve tried to do.”

Both Stanton and Bixby met with the Student Government Association (SGA) several times during the past six months. They wanted to hear feedback from students regarding the events of the fall. Three board members even sat in on an SGA meeting in the fall to listen to students’ opinions, according to SGA president Tabitha Parker.

Parker said she was glad to get the email announcing the revisions after unclear communication in the fall. She said students want clarity above all else on the situation.

“Some people were surprised that it happened this year, some were expecting it to be even more delayed,” Parker said.

However, the handbook touched on much more than just sexual stewardship. Also outlined in the community values section are discipleship, service, corporate worship, diversity, community care and integrity. Bixby focused on a few of these areas.

“This is who we are. To lead with discipleship is part of the framework of Azusa Pacific, our intentional desire to disciple and to point students to Christ,” Bixby said. “And anyone who lives at APU knows service is a huge part of who we are … These are critical components of how we do life at APU with students.”

Another component of the handbook talks about corporate worship, also known as chapel. Bixby said he is proud of the way APU handles chapel, saying that although he has not been to every Christian school, he doesn’t think any other university has a chapel with quite as “electric of an atmosphere.”

Perhaps one of the more overlooked parts of the handbook focuses on diversity. This section reads, “We support a diverse university across lines of race, ethnicity, culture, gender, socioeconomic status, class, age, and ability. In submitting to the Lordship of Christ, we seek to eliminate attitudes of superiority and to fulfill Christ’s charge to reach all peoples.”

Stanton said this change to the handbook represented APU’s student body.

“Christian schools in California are different than in many other parts of the country, especially in terms of diversity. The majority of our students are students of color,” Stanton said. “That’s simply not the case in many institutions nationally.”

While revising the handbook, Bixby and Stanton examined other Christian schools’ handbooks, especially universities in California. According to Bixby, many Christian universities share similar language in their handbooks; however, they may have different goals. Stanton reaffirmed that APU has one primary goal that has not changed, despite the other changes in the handbook.

“Our motto is ‘God First’ … That faith commitment was central to what we’re trying to do. I say that because it’s important for everyone to know that it remains central to who we are,” Stanton said.

Despite the events of the fall, Stanton said he hopes students will see what the university is trying to do with the new handbook.

“If you talk about what’s coming from my heart, it’s that students will understand that we’re genuinely trying to relate and interact well with every student on our campus,” Stanton said. “We don’t want any student to feel marginalized or outcast.”

Search for APU's next president down to four candidates

This article was originally published on ZU News.

Nearly 10 months have passed since Azusa Pacific President Jon Wallace announced his retirement. In that time, APU’s Presidential Search Committee has worked to find Wallace’s replacement, partnering with search firm CarterBaldwin to narrow the candidate list from more than 80 candidates down to just four.

Dan Fachner, board member and co-lead of the search committee, said the applications began in September and in the following months the committee narrowed the list down to nine candidates, then to the current four. Fachner said he was not at liberty to disclose the candidates names.

“I’m delighted with the candidates that we’re at today. I think each one of them are really strong,” Fachner said. “Each one of them has their unique strengths in different areas.”

The search committee, comprised of seven board members and seven non-board members (two faculty and five administrators), chose these four candidates after a lengthy review process. They began by assembling a set of criteria they were looking for in the next president.

Facher described the process, saying the committee members split up and each assembled their own list of traits they wanted to see in the next president. He said when they came back together and compared notes, they had the same main criteria.

“Being able to hold the university strong in [its] mission was very high up there. Being able to lead with vision and mission, both were extremely important,” Fachner said. “It goes without saying that a background in higher education was extremely important to us.”

Besides these traits, Fachner said two personal skills were paramount for the presidential role.

“[We wanted] somebody with really strong leadership and communication skills,” Fachner said.

Diversity is another important aspect for the next president.

“Absolutely. Diversity is very important to us and to the student body. We recognize the added value in that,” said Loren Martin, faculty moderator and a member of the search committee.

According to Fachner, the reflection of APU’s student body was a factor in searching for diverse candidates.

“We talked about it from the start, the importance of broadening our search enough to be able to pull in some diversity,” Fachner said. “Knowing that APU was a diverse campus was an important thing. Not that it was the sole reason, but we felt like that was an important thing for the potential new president.”

Neither Fachner nor Martin could comment on whether the candidates were internal or external applicants. However, Ethan Schrum, an assistant professor in the Department of History and Political Science, said he was certain where they would come from.

“I believe it is very likely that this will be an external hire,” Schrum said. “Among all the constituents, there seems to be a sense that APU really needs some fresh ideas and somebody who has some real experience running another institution, even if it’s not necessarily at the presidential level, but someone who really understands how other institutions work to maybe come in and help us improve our infrastructure and some of our processes.”

Schrum noted the traits faculty are looking for in the next president.

“Many faculty want a president who will both be very oriented toward faculty and a mission of educating Christian thinkers, while at the same time being a very strong fundraiser,” Schrum said. “It can be difficult to find one person who has both of those skill sets.”

Schrum said the best fundraisers are typically older with many years of experience. However, Fachner said the candidates vary greatly in age. He said the committee did not limit their search to either younger or older candidates.

Over the next several weeks, the committee will interview the four candidates at undisclosed off-campus locations, which will in turn lead to their final decision.

The committee has yet to release a date they’ll announce the next president on, but they released an official statement in December saying, “The hope is that the Committee will make a recommendation to the APU Board of Trustees sometime in spring 2019, so the board can have a new president in place by July 1, 2019.”

Dr. Michael Guillen speaks on "The End of Life as We Know It" and the significance of faith in today's world

This article was originally published in The Media Project, a Christian journalism publication.

Is it possible to unscramble an egg?

The audience of 21 Christian professionals, part of Mastermedia International, waited for an answer from Dr. Michael Guillen, a famed author and renowned Christian scientist. Guillen made them wait for half an hour as he delivered his story and spoke about his new book.

"The End of Life as We Know It" was just released on Oct. 16. It examines the outlook on four areas that present ethical dilemmas to society. These four topics are the web, privacy, genetic engineering and robots.

"This was one of the hardest books I've had to write. I hope it opens up people's eyes," Guillen said. "I wanted to write to help people understand all of these things."

Guillen delved into some of the experiments scientists across the country are doing, including three scientists in Minnesota and California that are attempting to make a human-animal hybrid, what he called a "human pig chimera." He said they are doing this explicitly against the wishes of the National Institutes of Health and are completely privately funded.

The implications of these experiments could be severe. Members of the audience put down their Chick-Fil-A sandwiches in shock as Guillen talked about the possible ramifications.

"I reference this quote from Arthur C. Clarke a lot, 'It has yet to be proven that intelligence has any survival value,'" Guillen said. "Our intelligence could do us in as a species. Reason can only take us so far. We have to have wisdom too. I find wisdom in the Bible.  With wisdom we can say: we can do this, but should we?"

This story has been told over and over in pop culture. From "Jurassic Park" to "Terminator" and "Ex Machina," the theme of technology and science overpowering its creators is almost cliché. However, according to Guillen, this isn't just the movies any more.

Guillen talked about scientists working to resurrect extinct species, including the wooly mammoth. Besides that, robots have made leaps and bounds in the past decade. Just last year, the famous robot "Sophia" was granted citizenship in Saudi Arabia. According to Guillen, European legislators are considering giving human rights to robots.

"This is the world we're creating for ourselves. It's real now, folks. This is no longer science fiction," Guillen said.

It's not all dark news though. Guillen said Christians are more important than ever right now, with the chance to provide wisdom to a world so obsessed with scientific progress without considering the ramifications of their work.

If anyone would know how to bridge the gap between science and faith, it would be Guillen.

Of the five other books that Guillen has written, two fall on this subject, including "Amazing Truths: How Science and the Bible Agree." This book explores 10 deep concepts where Christianity and science converge.  

"You will be shocked by how much science and the bible agree," Guillen said. "People get so hung up on silly things like the age of the universe and don't focus on the fundamental areas where they agree."

For Guillen, the path to finding God took an atypical path. He became enamored with science at a young age before getting his B.S. in physics from UCLA and then his Ph.D. in physics, mathematics and astronomy from Cornell.

At Cornell he worked in a lab "21/7," from 6 a.m. until 3 a.m. every day. He met his wife, Laurel, while at Cornell. Guillen was in love with his work but he was unsatisfied. He explored Hinduism, Buddhism and even briefly Judaism trying to find answers. Laurel asked if he had read the Bible. He scoffed at first, but they ended up reading it together over the course of two years.

"We assume young people go to college and lose their faith. For me, it was the opposite," Guillen said. "I'll never forget the day we finished the Old Testament and started the New Testament. It was like we were sitting in the dark and someone turned the lights on."

Guillen was taken aback by the paradoxical way Jesus spoke (the meek shall inherit the earth, bless those who curse you). This struck him because he was seeing the same kind of paradoxes in his study of quantum mechanics.

Guillen and his wife accepted Christ and he never looked back. His research has strengthened his beliefs. He went on to serve as the science editor for ABC News for 14 years, appearing regularly on shows like “20/20” and “Good Morning America.”

Members of the audience marveled at Guillen’s words, serious food for thought. He ended by telling them the answer to his opening riddle. It is possible to unscramble an egg, if you feed the scramble to a chicken.

For more on Michael Guillen, check out:

Are Catholic Students Welcome At APU?

This article originally appeared in ZU News.

There are over 600 Catholic students on Azusa Pacific’s campus. These students go through the same classes and chapels that all APU students go through, but their experience is not the same. That’s why two professors from the Honors College, Barbara Nicolosi Harrington Ph.D.  and Diana Glyer Ph.D., are conducting a survey to find out how Catholic students feel about school, chapel and any positive or negative experiences they’ve had.

“The provost put out to the faculty that he would give little research grants if anyone came up with a concept about some area of life at APU. Diana [Glyer] contacted me and said, ‘I’m thinking we could do a question on Catholic life here at APU, from the standard of why don’t we get more Catholic kids here?’ I brought up the idea of whether we retain Catholic students or not,” Harrington said. “For me personally, over the years of working here, I’ve experienced a few things that are bothersome as a Catholic. Mostly, it’s been tremendously positive here.”

The survey was emailed to a list of Catholic students on March 27. Harrington said they hoped to have a 20 percent response rate, which is about 120 students. They received over 100 responses in the first 24 hours.

“We want to know, as a Catholic, is APU a comfortable place to be? Your head goes to chapel because it’s mandated. APU says you must go and pray three days a week,” Harrington said. “The question is, when you mandate something and say we have to pray like this, and that’s not the way some people pray in their tradition––can you mandate that for something as personal as prayer? We want to ask the Catholics how they feel about that. Is it getting in the way of prayer for you? I’m interested in hearing. I, myself, have real issues with that because it’s just not the way I pray.”

When asked about liturgical chapel, Harrington said that it wasn’t what the students needed.

“Every single person says that about liturgical chapel. When you talk to the chapel people, they say it’s not for Catholics, that’s not why we have it,” Harrington said. “Liturgical chapel is actually worse from our standpoint because it looks like a fake mass to us.”

Lauren Bashoura, a senior psychology and honors humanities major, agreed with Harrington on liturgical chapel.

“The elements of it are there but it’s just a little bit of a different feeling because the meaning behind it is a little bit different,” Bashoura said. “I’ve heard the same from a lot of Catholics I’ve talked to, where they were told Liturgical is the chapel for you, and then they went and didn’t like it.”

Bashoura, a Catholic student, is an intern helping Harrington and Glyer with the survey. She said she’s not able to get into the worship at any of the chapels. That’s one of the questions asked in the survey.

“We’re asking questions like: ‘Are you a Catholic? What was your spiritual life like before coming to APU? How has it been since coming to APU? What are some of the challenges you’ve faced? What are some of the good things about APU that’s been fruitful for your spirituality? What do you think of chapel?’ Those kinds of basic questions for establishing the groundwork for what being Catholic is like at APU,” Bashoura said.

Bashoura said she’s had a good time at APU, that it was an easier time for her than high school.

“I’ve loved my time here. I came here knowing that it was not a Catholic school. I wasn’t shocked by that. I grew up going to public schools. I had never gone to a Catholic school so I had to practice my faith on my own for most of my life anyways. For me, it wasn’t that difficult of a transition,” Bashoura said.

Bashoura is a part of the Catholic club at APU, Quo Vadis. This club was founded by Keith Major, a graduate student in the pastoral ministries program. Major started the club after hosting a Catholic young adult conference at APU last year.

“I heard that there were over 1,000 Catholic students here. What’s happening on campus for Catholic students? There’s nothing specifically catered for Catholics. So I made a pitch to start a Catholic club. I just wanted to have a place where Catholic students could connect because I don’t think we know who each other are,” Major said. “You have to get voted in by the presidents of other clubs. They approved the club and afterwards I had three presidents of other clubs come up to me and say, ‘I’m Catholic and I didn’t know something like this was going to happen.’ Each of them said they only knew like two or three other Catholic students. After talking to them, it seems like they kept their Catholic-ness to themselves.”

Major compared the situation to The Scarlet Letter, saying students didn’t want to walk around with a C sewed to their shirts.

“They would say that they were afraid if other students knew they were Catholic, they would try to convert them,” Major said.

Major said he spoke to Catholic students about what they wanted to see at APU.

“At the conference, we asked students what they would want here, a wishlist. They said it would be really nice to have mass, like once a month or to have confession,” Major said.

Major said he tried to hold an adoration service for the club, but since it involved bringing a bishop from outside of APU, it was denied.

“There’s certain things that require a priest, to make it Catholic, but there are no Catholic pastors at APU. There’s no one that could hold a mass, or have an adoration ceremony, things that these Catholic students are begging to have,” Major said. “I know this is a school, but the students here are paying customers, paying five figures a year to go here. To ignore the aches and pains of the paying customers is not good. I’m fully aware that this isn’t a Catholic university, but the students chose to come here and are just asking for this like once a month. I think this survey is one of the first times that their voice is being heard.”

Major, Harrington and Bashoura all spoke about the misconceptions non-Catholic students have about Catholicism.

“In my time with Evangelicals, I’ve had many people say things to me like, ‘Wow, you’re Catholic but you really know the lord,’ or ‘I’ve never met a Catholic who knew the Bible so well,’ or ‘do you really pray to Mary and the Saints?’ There’s a few things out there, mainly rooted in misconceptions,” Harrington said.

Harrington said she’s curious to find out what the perception of APU is among Catholic families.

“We have to ask- why don’t more Catholics come here? What’s the perception of APU? There are certain things here that are appealing to certain traditional Catholic families, like the Honors College. This is a traditional curriculum that is valued among Catholic circles,” Harrington said.

Harrington said that parents of Catholic students might worry about sending their kids to APU.

“The question Catholic parents would have when they’re sending their kids to APU is ‘are they going to be proselytized out of their faith?’ I don’t think that happens at APU. I think institutionally, APU is not doing that,” Harrington said. “Whether or not that happens among the students is a different issue. Let’s face it, if one student wrote a racial slur on somebody’s car, that was a big issue, even though the whole thing turned out to be false. But why wouldn’t that matter if a student said bigoted anti-Catholic things to another student. Isn’t it the same thing? It should be. To me, bigotry is bigotry.”

While Harrington has heard a few anti-Catholic remarks and incidents, she didn’t feel comfortable sharing them. However, she and Bashoura clarified the survey is not in response to any one incident.

“This survey is not in response to any acts of aggression or anything we’ve noticed on campus,” Bashoura said. “It’s just that we really want to give Catholic students a voice and a chance to talk about their experience, because that’s APU’s focus, to start creating a space for an open dialogue. We’re just trying to start a conversation on campus that we feel hasn’t really been started yet.”

Righteous Velocities Connects PR Students In New Ways

This article was originally published in ZU News.


“Public Relations is so complicated,” junior Kirra Bento said. “I usually just explain it to people as the communication between a business and a client.”

Bento is the president of the Public Relations (PR) club at APU, called Righteous Velocities.

“We’re called Righteous Velocities because we’re called to be righteous lights in the workplace and to move forward at a rapid pace,” Bento said. “We chose that name because we wanted to represent God in our work and because PR does have a bad stigma. We chose righteous because we didn’t want that.”

Although Righteous Velocities only started last fall, it has grown rapidly and now has 36 members.

Bento said the club was created to help forge connections between under and upperclassmen in the PR major, which itself is just three years old at APU.

“We created the PR club out of a lack of connections between incoming PR students and current PR students. Last semester was our first semester as a club officially,” Bento said. “After sitting down with our advisor, Ismael Medel, and our vice president, Dominique, we started to create a constitution and bylaws for what we wanted the club to look like. Once we had that set out, we started with a mini campaign for the club. The focus was primarily in getting PR students to join.”

One of the students that joined last semester is junior PR major Ally Dodd. Dodd transferred to APU in the fall.

“It’s been really fun to meet other people in my major. People that I don’t have in class, I meet through the club. It’s been really helpful, especially as a transfer,” Dodd said.

Although Righteous Velocities only has one official meeting a semester, they have a few activities during the semester outside of that. One of those activities will be a photoshoot next month for professional LinkedIn pictures.

Dodd said she’s excited for the photoshoot, which is one of the first steps in branding herself.

“I’m learning to network. We talked about branding ourselves at the last meeting, and learning to network outside versus in the classroom,” Dodd said.

Justine Brown is also a junior transfer student who joined the club last semester. She said they talked about going to an actual PR agency and touring it as one of their next activities. For right now though, Brown is focused on making connections.

“I think it will be really helpful to build connections with people who have similar interests. I think we’ll grow together in our knowledge of PR and branding ourselves,” Brown said. “It’s a fun group of people. We don’t have meetings all the time, so it’s not a burden. It’s laid back and beneficial to everyone in the club.”

Although Righteous Velocities has grown to 36 members, Bento wants to continue to see it grow with more freshmen next year.

“I would love to be able to pass this down to someone else next year for them to work on it. My goals are to get new people in with fresh ideas and have them help us with new content,” Bento said. “We’d really like to bring the freshmen in and connect them with the upperclassmen.”

The PR major was started three years ago by assistant professor Ismael Medel. It now has over 70 students in the major. It falls under the department of Communication Studies.

“Because the PR program is so new, there’s so much we don’t know about it yet,” Bento said. “Many people view that as a negative thing, but I view it as a place where your input is heard. There’s space for you to tell the advisors what you want out of the program.”

Righteous Velocities was designed for PR students, but it is open to all majors.

“We try to recommend that people within the communication studies department join because PR is such a niche thing,” Bento said. “With that said, you don’t know if you’re a PR person until you try.”

If you are interested in the PR club, contact Kirra Bento:

APU Begins Campus Wide Switch To Canvas

This article was originally published in ZU News.

Azusa Pacific has used the Learning Management System (LMS) Sakai for several years, but this is the last semester that the whole university will be using it. Starting this summer, three schools will be transitioning to another LMS, Canvas.

The transition is headed by the Office of Innovative Teaching and Technology (ITT). Mike Truong, the Executive Director of ITT, said there are several reasons for the switch.

“There are a number of reasons why we’re transitioning. The main one is that Sakai is just a dated technology. It’s been around for over a decade. A decade ago technology was just not what it is today. It was before the iPhone was invented,” Truong said. “More than that, the ways you can interact in Sakai were pretty limited. There’s no app for Sakai. You can’t drag and drop things in Sakai like we’re used to.”

Truong said that Canvas will force professors to rethink the way they teach with its new opportunities. He said that this will help since APU is and has been heavily invested in online learning for years.

“This process started about five years ago when I first came to APU. Nothing tangible happened then, I just submitted a recommendation for the campus to switch,” Truong said. “It wasn’t really until two years ago that the campus started mobilizing to make this transition.”

APU looked at several different potential replacements for Sakai, testing them among students and faculty.

“A committee was formed about a year and a half ago with faculty members, staff members, students and members from our office. We spent a year looking at the different systems, evaluating them, bringing in different vendors,” Truong said. “It was through that process that we decided on Canvas. It involved about 400 people. I think it was a comprehensive and campus-wide approach to making that decision.”

While the decision has been made to switch to Canvas, the implementation won’t actually take effect until this summer and later for different schools within APU. According to Truong, Provost Mark Stanton wanted a slower rollout for better results.

“He wanted a year and a half to a two year rollout. So we’re starting this summer with three schools: the School of Business Management, the School of Behavioral and Applied Sciences and the School of Theology. Those will launch Canvas this summer. The next two schools, the College of Music and Arts and the School of Nursing will launch it in the fall. The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and the library will launch it next spring. Lastly, the School of Education will launch it next summer, ending the staggered approach.”

While it was the provost’s decision to have a slow rollout, each dean of the respective schools decided when they wanted to implement Canvas.

Throughout this semester, ITT is offering training to faculty to teach them how to use Canvas. Ann Kwinn, the Director of Instructional Strategy for ITT will help lead the training.

“You can take a face-to-face class, or an online course or a blended course. We have to address the faculty’s need to serve you in all of those ways,” Kwinn said. “We also have to accommodate the faculty, so we offer different ways for them to learn about Canvas in all the ways they need for those different modalities. We have face-to-face trainings here in our office, we have face-to-face trainings in the different departments, we have a self-study course with simulations that students and faculty can take and we have live online sessions as well.”

While most faculty likely have little previous experience with Canvas, a large amount of students have likely already used it.

“Canvas is used in the kindergarten through 12th grade space, so some students may already be familiar with it through that,” Kwinn said. “Canvas is known for good support and sharing.”

In addition, most public state colleges and universities in California already use Canvas, so there are many transfers who are familiar with it.

One of these transfers is Hannah Mitchell, a junior studio art major, who transferred to APU from Westmont in the fall. Mitchell said she enjoyed using Canvas at Westmont.

“I really liked Canvas. It gives you your dashboard that has all of your classes there and it’s really easy to see the assignments you need to do. It’s easy to upload your assignments as well,” Mitchell said. “I think Sakai is really messy and difficult to navigate, kind of poorly designed. I’m glad that we’re getting Canvas. I like it better.”

One of the other positives that Truong noted about Canvas is that it is almost the same price as Sakai, with much more to offer.

“Canvas doesn’t actually cost that much more than Sakai. It’s less than what we we’re paying for our last LMS, I think it was called e-college. We paid much more for that than we’re paying for either Sakai or Canvas,” Truong said. “Cost was a big consideration in our decision in which way we wanted to go. For a little bit more cost, it’s giving us a lot more for faculty and students. All the employees of APU will also be using Canvas for their training and development. So in some ways, it’s like we’re getting two systems in one which is a great deal.”

In addition to holding training events for faculty throughout the semester, ITT will also have an event for students regarding Canvas.

“On March 14 on West Campus, we’ll have a Canvas pop-up event. We’ll be out there giving out information and swag, promoting Canvas with games and prizes,” Truong said. “We want to create excitement about this new LMS. It’s a good way to get the word out about Canvas. We’re going to try to do another event on East Campus next fall.”

Kevin Spacey Faces The Music After Sexual Assault Allegations

This article was originally published in ZU News.

Kevin Spacey, the star actor from “House of Cards,” has been under scrutiny after allegations arose last week that he sexually assaulted actor Anthony Rapp over 30 years ago.

In an interview with BuzzFeed News, Rapp said that Spacey invited him over to his house for a party in 1986 when they were working together on Broadway shows. He said that Spacey picked him up and made a sexual advance on him. Rapp was 14 at the time while Spacey was 26.

Spacey issued a statement on Twitter after the story, saying that he did not remember the incident.

“I’m beyond horrified to hear his story. I honestly do not remember the encounter, it would have been over 30 years ago. But if I did behave then as he describes, I owe him the sincerest apology for what would have been deeply inappropriate drunken behavior,” Spacey wrote.

This is where the second part of the controversy started. Spacey continued in the statement to come out of the closet.

“As those closest to me know, in my life I have had relationships with both men and women,” Spacey wrote. “I have loved and had romantic encounters with men throughout my life, and I choose now to live as a gay man. I want to deal with this honestly and openly and that starts with examining my own behavior.”

Thomas Parham, the Executive Director of Screenwriting in APU’s Cinematic Arts department, said that he was deeply saddened when he heard the news.

“I’ve admired Spacey’s acting,” Parham said. “I actually worked with Anthony Rapp on a sitcom back in the ’90s, called Big Brother Jake, at the Family Channel. I’ve been talking with my cinematic arts ethics class about a variety of topics. We’ve been dealing with rape culture. Right now, this could possibly just be the tip of the iceberg. There’s a lot more potential for stories like this.”

Parham was not the only one who was upset about Spacey. Freshmen public relations major Paige Kauffman said she was infuriated by the news.

“I was outraged. The fact that these allegations against powerful Hollywood men are becoming common breaks my heart and frustrates me at the same time. I’m proud of the victims stepping forward and being vulnerable,” Kauffman said. “Maybe Rapp should’ve stepped forward sooner, but as a victim I completely understand why he didn’t. It takes so much courage to step forward, especially when someone’s afraid of backlash.”

Parham did not approve of Spacey’s decision to come out in the apology.

“It was absolutely spin and it was a poor decision. He has taken a lot of heat from the LGBTQ community for that. It doesn’t excuse his behavior,” Parham said. “It’s two separate issues. They’re not linked. Trying to link them and use it as cover was just tacky and wrong and reinforces negative stereotypes. He’s on a lot of people’s unhappy list right now.”

Junior animations major Sandra Elhachem agreed with Parham.

“I think he could have chosen a different way to come out because he did it over the wrong reasons,” Elhachem said. “He did it over cowardice, not through a sense of pride and acceptance.”

Rapp was not the only person who Spacey allegedly sexually assaulted. According to an article by Vox, Spacey allegedly assaulted an anonymous 14-year-old-boy, an anonymous 17-year-old-boy, an anonymous 23-year-old-man, director Tony Montana, actor Robert Cavazos, bartender Daniel Beal and eight people who work on “House of Cards.”

Spacey’s story is having a number of repercussions, including Netflix stopping production of “House of Cards.”

“Netflix initially said that they were going to end “House of Cards” after the season that was being filmed. However, they’ve stopped production. There’s serious doubt as to whether they will resume production on this season, and if so what that will look like,” Parham said.

Netflix is weighing its options for the future of the show. According to an article by the Huffington Post, they may kill Spacey’s character off. If Netflix cancelled production of this season entirely, it would have unintended consequences.

“The sad thing about all these scandals is that when a project gets cancelled, it’s not just the star actor who is affected, it’s everybody who works on the show. In some situations, some people are high enough in the Hollywood food chain, where it’s called ‘pay for play.’ Whether they make the episodes or not, they get paid,” Parham said. “But the below the line crew, the average worker bees, they’re never ‘pay for play,’ so they’re losing work. That’s the unintended consequence of all these productions that have been cancelled.”

Parham, who was a fan of the first two seasons of “House of Cards,” said that he thinks Netflix can still salvage the show.

“I wouldn’t be surprised if they found a way to salvage this season, perhaps with minimal participation from Spacey. They might rewrite the scripts or take a production hiatus and start the spin-off earlier than they had planned. Netflix is aware of all these crew people who have done nothing wrong,” Parham said. “It kind of reminds me of what happened when the lead actor in ‘Spartacus’ got cancer. They delayed season two and did a mini-series, a prequel, to keep the production running. I wouldn’t be surprised if Netflix finds a way to keep the crew engaged.”

House of Cards was one of Netflix’s first original shows. It has won several Emmys and paved the way for Netflix, Hulu and Amazon original shows to become more popular than traditional TV. Spacey was a large part of this success, as he played the main character, Frank Underwood, in the show.

After more allegations against Spacey surfaced, he was dropped by his agents, according to an article by CBS News. He is also reportedly seeking treatment, per a CNN story.

However Netflix decides to handle Spacey’s case, this is only one of many cases of sexual assault that’s popping up.

“With the #MeToo campaign, there’s a groundswell of people coming forward to share their stories. It’s coming from a place of pain and it’s not easy for them,” Parham said. “It’s not just Hollywood. Several female politicians have come forward to share their stories. One of NPR’s news directors was forced to resign. Society at large, not just Hollywood, is saying ‘enough.’ I think there will be more cases coming forward in other professions. Hollywood is an easy target to focus on because it’s high profile. I think there’s more to come overall.”

Pedestrian Safety Is A Top Priority

This article was originally published in ZU News.

The Department of Campus Safety sent out a campus wide email today with 22 pedestrian safety tips for students walking, cycling or skateboarding on and around APU’s campus.

“We don’t get a lot of opportunity to provide information about pedestrian safety on our campus,” said Campus Safety Chief Tim Finneran. “We do a lot of traffic safety for drivers. We do a lot of parking enforcement at the request of the university. We thought it would be a good idea to send out some pedestrian, skateboard and bicycle safety tips.”

This list of safety tips includes basic information such as looking both ways before stepping out onto the street. It also includes more detailed information including four tips on how to be seen when crossing streets and while walking at night.

“We do notice a lot of people are not using the cross walks, stepping off the curbs in the middle of the roadways, looking down at their phones, or have both their headphones in so they don’t hear traffic behind them,” Finneran said. “Lieutenant Hollowell and I see a lot of that going on when we walk the parking lots almost every day.”

This is one of the biggest issues according to the email. People are on their phones while walking, cycling, or skateboarding.

“It goes back to the same thing, with everybody on their phone with headphones in, and a skateboarder coming up behind them. Should they step to the right or the left, there’s a chance of a collision there. We’re trying to avoid all that,” said Operations Lieutenant Lee Hollowell.

Many students have experienced this hazard whilst walking from East Campus to West Campus or vice versa between classes. Among these students is junior English major Emily Benedetta.

“I feel as though bikers are a safety hazard to walkers,” Benedetta said. “They are moving at a much faster pace than walkers and expect them to either move out of their way or stick to one area of the sidewalk. This is especially troublesome during busy times of the day.”

One of the tips in the email reads: “Per the APU Vehicle Code, bicyclists and skateboarders must yield to pedestrians.”

Finneran said that this has been a big issue on campus. He also said that bicyclists should be following the same rules as vehicles. This means that they should be riding on the street and not the pedestrian-filled sidewalk.

“We see a lot of skateboarders shoot through the intersections and through the parking lot, moving around pretty quickly,” Finneran said. “We understand that’s their mode of transportation, but we just want them to be more cognizant of pedestrians on the roadway and the sidewalk that may not be anticipating their quick arrival.”

To view the whole list of tips, check your APU email.

“We think about the safety of everybody here at the university, whether you’re walking around, on a skateboard, on a bike, on a scooter, or in a car,” Finneran said. “It’s preventative.”