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Castro talks tablet launch, announces American Indian student initiative

In his fifth start-of-the-semester address to campus staff and faculty, Fresno State President Joseph Castro touted the launch of the DISCOVERe tablet program and announced plans to move forward with improving the university’s antiquated electrical infrastructure system.

Castro, who spoke to the campus community Monday morning at the Satellite Student Union as part of his Spring Assembly, also said the university established an American Indian Recruitment and Resource Initiative aimed at doubling the enrollment and graduation rates American Indian students from 82 students to 164 by 2016.

The goal of the initiative, Castro told staff and faculty, was to strengthen relationships with the neighboring American Indian tribes and to help reverse a trend that’s seen less and less American Indian students enrolling at Fresno State.

The university leader described the DISCOVERe tablet program’s fall launch a success, citing an in-house study in which 84 percent of students and 92 percent of faculty who participated in the program’s first semester said they had a “positive experience” in the program.

“There is growing evidence that students who participate in tablet classes learn more and achieve higher grades than those in traditional course courses,” Castro said. The program has grown this semester: 566 students are enrolled in 33 tablet courses taught by 23 faculty members.

Work to upgrade the school’s infrastructure system, which has suffered two blackout incidents since 2013, is set to start in a few weeks. The CSU system has allocated $30 million for the project, which Castro has said is the school’s top nonacademic priority.