A “great deal” has happened since Fresno State President Joseph I. Castro joined the university as its top administrator less than six years ago.
A decade ago the university was “in survival mode during the great recession,” Castro said. “It was a challenging period.”
When Castro became president in 2013, the recession has ended but the aftermath remain, he said, adding that it push them “to be bold.”
Fast forward to the 16th day of 2019 when Castro highlighted recruitment of tenure-track faculty, new degree programs, facility enhancements on campus and the university’s first-ever Principles of Community, during the annual spring semester assembly at the Satellite Student Union.
The first day of semester instruction at Fresno State is Jan. 17.
From 2013-18, Fresno State hired more tenure-track faculty than all but one other CSU campus, Castro told the assembly of staff and faculty, adding that salaries for faculty and staff have increased steadily and many new faculty and staff have been hired.
During the assembly Castro announced the Principles of Community, a set of guidelines – “not a policy” – developed by a faculty/staff task force.
“Instead, these principles exemplify what we aspire to be,” Castro said, inviting and encouraging faculty and staff to “embrace them with me and to use these guidelines as a tool to help Fresno State reach our full potential as a great place to work.”
The principles, said university officials, were one of several action items stemming from a 2017 survey gauge faculty and staff perceptions of their work environment. Dozens of work groups and thousands of employees participated in discussions about how employees communicate and interact with one another.
Castro said another survey will take place in March for faculty and staff to have another opportunity to give feedback.
Castro also highlighted new degree programs, including an online degree-completion program that was developed for former Fresno State students who previously left the university in good academic standing so they can now complete their degree in a more timely way.
“We want you back to finish up your degree at Fresno State,” Castro said, adding that a small group of qualified students will start a cohort of the new degree-completion program this fall.
Other new degree programs – including business, teacher education, multilingual/multicultural education and a planned RN/BSN program in nursing –have recently been introduced at Fresno State’s Visalia campus.
Castro was proud to highlight several new construction and design projects that are underway this year in order to meet the needs of 21st century teaching and learning.
“This year, the design phase for the new student union will begin, a feasibility study for a new performing arts facility will be initiated, bidding for the Ruiz Executive Classroom building has begun and the construction of a new locker room for the equestrian team is underway,” Castro added.
Other projects underway includes high-impact science and engineering laboratories that will be renovated to support students and faculty.
Castro said a request for proposals will be released for a public-private partnership for a new $125 million Central Utility Plant, which will provide heating and cooling across the campus in a more cost-effective and environmentally sustained way.
“The success of our students will continue to be determined by big and bold personal dreams, a nurturing family environment, hard work and faculty and staff who are supportive and fully committed to discovery, diversity and distinction,” said Castro. “It’s going to bet better than this.”
During the assembly Castro also recognized four faculty and staff members “whose daily work models the aspirations set forth by the University’s principles of community.”
Those recognized were: Dr. Benjamin Boone, professor of music performance and composition; Louise Pacheco, recruitment counselor in the Office of Admissions and Recruitment; Ashley Ilic, director of Brand Strategy and Marketing; and, Larry Salinas, executive director of Governmental Relations.