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Castro: Welcome back, Bulldogs!

Special to The Collegian

By President Joseph I. Castro

Welcome back, Bulldogs! I’m eager to see what the new year holds for us at Fresno State, and I hope to personally meet many of you to talk about your experiences here, your plans and your dreams.

As we begin the university’s 105th year, we have a record number of students this fall – 23,882, including the largest-ever class of new students. And you might like to know that the California State University system of which we are a part of, has the largest living alumni base of any university system in the world – more than 3 million graduates!

Fresno State is growing and getting stronger each year. As we make your success as students our top priority, we are attracting more applicants than ever before and our students are graduating in a more timely way.

Our students, faculty and staff are modeling success and excellence in new and, yes, bolder ways than ever.

At today’s New Student Convocation, I will share some brief thoughts on three important topics as we begin the new term.

My first thought is about the role and purpose of a university in our society.

Public universities like Fresno State have been established in our nation and around the world to address significant societal needs. We educate talented and diverse students like all of you and prepare you for success in your chosen careers.

We conduct research on real-world issues that are important to the communities we serve. Our research on water is a timely example of an area that is of critical importance to the Central Valley, state and beyond.

We also provide valuable public service in our region. One powerful example is the over 1 million hours of community service that Fresno State students, faculty and staff have provided each year for the past six years.

Students at Fresno State have the unique opportunity to get involved in each of these important areas of the university. I encourage you to participate in whatever interests you most: try an internship, conduct research, join a club, run for a student body office, study abroad, attend athletic events and cheer on your classmates. All of these opportunities are here for you to seize and take pride in.

Second, focus on the skills and virtues you will acquire while you are at Fresno State.

During your time here, I hope you will focus on what David Brooks of The New York Times calls “resume virtues” and “eulogy virtues.” The resume virtues include very important technical skills – excellent written and oral skills, critical thinking skills, the ability to collaborate with others and content skills connected to the major you select. These are skills that receive the most attention in our society.

Along with your resume virtues, I urge you to spend time developing your eulogy virtues. These include honesty, integrity, loyalty, respect for others and humbleness. They are the types of virtues you will be known for throughout your life among your family, friends and coworkers. Eulogy virtues are necessary to be an effective leader in whatever field you choose.

The third focus is your role as the next generation of leaders in promoting what is called “the greater good.” Fresno State’s mission is to educate the next generation of leaders for our region and beyond. We have over 200,000 alumni who live and work in the Valley and throughout the nation and world. Our alumni are leaders who are making a positive difference in their communities. One Fresno State alumnus, Marvin Baxter, who was a first-generation student like 70 percent of our current students, just completed his service as a member of the California Supreme Court – the highest court in our state.

You can be next. Today’s Fresno State students are the next generation. I hope you will leverage all you have learned to lead and make your own distinctive, positive impact.

As emerging leaders, you have a special responsibility to conduct yourselves honorably and to think about what is best for the greater good of our community and our society. This is easier to say than to do, as you will undoubtedly face temptations to focus on self-interests — or the interests of a few influential voices — that may not align with the greater good. I urge you to resist those temptations — small and large — and live your life according to the eulogy values of honesty, integrity, loyalty, respect for others and humbleness.

I hope you will capture this incredible opportunity of higher education to discover your own passion and potential. When you do, I know that you will have a fulfilling, life-changing experience.

Be Bold. Be Nice. Be Proud, Be a Bulldog!

President Castro welcomes Twitter followers at @JosephICastro and anonymous feedback about Fresno State at www.fresnostate.edu/president/feedback.