The 1990 numbers didn’t add up for Fresno State President Joseph I. Castro happy.
Specifically, the number of Latinos in administrative positions at the time: Zero.
The number of Latino students in 1980: 1,683.
The number of Latino faculty in 1990: 56.
Those statistics have gotten brighter in recent years, starting with Castro being named the first Latino – and first Valley native – as president.
“Right now, we have about 12,400 Latino students,” said Castro in his keynote address at the 16th annual Gala Night: Developing Hispanic Leaders last Friday (April 6) at The Bankers Mall.
“Today we have 204 (Latino faculty),” he said. “In 1990, we had zero Latino administrators. Today we have 31.”
Fresno State, he said, is well positioned to produce more leaders for the Central Valley.
“We have a long history. We’re 107 years old. The campus has changed dramatically over the last few decades,” said Castro. “And the trajectory of growth over the few years has been spectacular.”
“I’m really impressed how we have been pushing forward,” said David Preciado, Mexican Consul in Fresno.
“It’s still pending in many areas to increase the numbers. But in California, the Central Valley, Fresno State is in the right way, and still there’s more numbers because the student (body) is almost half Latino,” added Preciado.
Preciado praised the leadership on the Fresno State campus and all the hard work to have the first Latino president.
Arámbula, a former emergency room doctor who entered politics in 2016, pointed to “so many great Latino leaders” that surround him.
Born “in the middle of the farmworker movement” in Delano, Arámbula noted he left the Valley for college and medical school, “but it was always with the intent of coming back to work here.”
“My father did, many of us walk in the footsteps of those who led before us. I’m so proud to be a representative of my community, but I would have been where I am today if I didn’t model or mentor myself,” said Arámbula.
Fresno Area Hispanic Foundation president Dora Westerlund and board chair Fausto Hinojosa served as co-emcees. They said the gala celebrates Latinos and Latinas in the Valley.
“It’s about those small businesses, who have accomplished a lot. We have a lot of great leaders here tonight. We’re so proud to be able to share this evening with so many amazing people,” said Westerlund, who views both Castro and Arámbula as role models in the community.
“They carry for us Latinos and Latinas in the Central Valley.”
“We have mayors from some of the small rural communities like Mendota, San Joaquín. We’ve been honored to have over the years all these community leaders, and one of the things that was important about this foundation, is that we wanted to be very inclusive,” said Hinojosa.
Fresno County Supervisor Sal Quintero said the foundation brings the community together for a single goal.
“I really wasn’t surprised. I was raised in Fresno, so you always look at things like that, at disparities, so it wasn’t really a big surprise to me going that far back,” said Quintero, who also praised the foundation’s efforts for their reach in the community.
“It helps build the spirit of our community in terms of those that are interested in going into business. At the same time to help our young people,” he said.