Dr. Pete Menjares
This is Pete Menjares. He is currently the Provost and Senior Vice President of Academic Affairs. One of his many responsibilities as provost is overseeing faculty research.
Pete was raised as an inner-city kid in Boyle Heights in East Los Angeles and his family eventually settled in Pico Rivera. His father passed away when he was young leaving him under the roof of a single mother and the oldest of three siblings. He continues to have a heart for that part of the city and embraces the Mexican-American community there. He grew up Roman Catholic attending Saturday catechism and Sunday mass before finding his Christian faith. In 1973, after attending a catholic high school, Pete was invited by his girlfriend at the time to a storefront building where they were holding a Bible rap, which is not a hip hop or spoken word event but an opportunity to have discussions about The Lord. He remembers listening to a Southern California College graduate, a Puerto Rican American preacher, who was sharing the gospel. Pete was compelled by the pastor's preaching and responded to his invitation in accepting Jesus as his Lord and Savior. This would inspire Pete to work in Christian education and he would eventually be a first-generation college graduate.
"Unfortunately, I came into SCC pretty much on academic probation. After high school, I went into community college with not really any purpose and my transcripts reflected that. I did not know at the time but for me, SCC stood for second chance college, and the university was willing to take that chance on me. I was so grateful for that and wanted to maximize that opportunity and was able to graduate with honors."
Pete graduated with a degree in religion hoping to go to seminary school, but The Lord had other plans for him. After graduating, he got a master's degree in education with an emphasis on curriculum and teaching from Cal State Dominguez Hill and would later finish with a PhD in education, specifically language and literacy learning from University of Southern California.
"In 1992, I was teaching at a small urban school when the Rodney King riots happened. I could not think of a better time to be there and learn more about that dynamic. That is part of the reason why I studied language and literacy at USC."
Upon graduating from USC, Pete was offered a position as Associate Provost of Diversity Leadership and was later promoted to Vice Provost for Faculty Development and Academic Effectiveness at Biola University, where he worked for 18 years. He then transfered position as the 11th President of Fresno Pacific University for two years.
"My wife, Virginia, who I met at a church in Whittier, went to Biola for her undergraduate and my daughter, Nicole, attended there as well. So, we are hoping our grandchildren will go to Vanguard. We are a big Christian education family."
After Biola, Pete received a call from Shirley Hoogstra, President of Council for Christian College (CCCU), who was at a conference with President Beals. She encouraged Pete to take a job at Vanguard leading a grant for the Institute for Faculty Development (IFD). Two years later the previous provost left Vanguard and Pete was asked to step in as Interim Provost and eventually took the position full time.
" I thought I would just finish out the grant and leave. I was already a president at Fresno so I was not thinking about taking a provost position. But, I fell in love with the community, the administration and the faculty so I ended up taking the job."
Today, Pete looks forward to the upcoming Fall semester and also encourages prospective students to learn as well as grow spiritually here at Vanguard. He believes it is one of the only Pentecostal universities in Southern California and also a place where students can continue to grow in their faith.
When he is not working, he enjoys playing guitar, fishing, writing and gardening with his wife. They currently reside in La Mirada near Knott's Berry Farm. One of the biggest fishes he caught was a man-sized barracuda found while deep-sea fishing. Although, he regrets not having a picture of him and his catch.
Vanguard is thankful for Pete and his outstanding leadership in helping guide university academics forward.
- university news