Fresno State President Joseph I. Castro gives a speech in the new social science quad area located between the buildings McKee Fisk, Professional Human Services, Family and Food Sciences and Social Science. (Khone Saysamongdy/ The Collegian)

Growing leaders, Castro sees a ‘bright future’ for Fresno State

As the Spring 2017 semester ends, Fresno State President Dr. Joseph Castro contemplates on how the university is continuing to make a difference in the world.

“I feel like we’re getting stronger everyday at serving our students more effectively,” Castro said. “We’re very blessed right now, and I think that the future is very bright.”

Castro has just ended his three-year review with California State University (CSU) Chancellor Timothy White. Along with the CSU trustees, White reviewed Castro’s performance and his upcoming goals at the university.

“This was the most comprehensive review of my performance since I’ve been here,” Castro said. “It was very constructive and helpful to receive feedback from students, faculty and staff.”

The review, which will also occur in his fifth and 10th years, gave insight into how Castro’s “strategic plan” contribute to benefiting the university moving forward.

“It was a very positive experience,” Castro said. “I feel like we’re all together in terms of the direction that we’re heading, and they’ve embraced the strategic directions of the campus as stated in our strategic plan. They expressed their full support for me and for the university.”

Castro said that the university will grow stronger because of this review. Since taking office in 2013, Castro said he has seen many positive advancements for the university.

With the increase in the state’s economy, more students are now attending Fresno State and the university is hiring more staff. With an increasing graduation rate, Castro has a 70 percent graduation rate goal by 2023.

“We’re near 60 percent, and I’ll like us to get to 70 percent and then go higher from there,” Castro said.

He will continue to focus on getting more students with degrees in four years. With the continual support of resources on campus for student and staff success, Castro said he believes that these goals can be achieved.

“We’ve invested many more dollars in support services for our students and in compensation for our faculty and staff so that we can recruit and retain the best people,” Castro said.

He also thanked the donors and alumni who invest in different services that are aimed at brining a positive effect to Fresno State.
Reflecting on these last few years, Castro said one of the most memorable moments for him was unveiling the Armenian Genocide Monument. Built in 2015, the first-of-its-kind memorial commemorated the 100th anniversary of the massacre.

He said the monument will be a powerful symbol for not only the Armenians of Fresno State but will be used in the education for all students.

Castro said that current society may seem polarized on different issues, it must learn to respect those who are different from us.

“This is a time where the university can really demonstrate value in showing the way for more civil and respectful dialogue on very challenging issues,” Castro said.

He said he believes that the diversity of Fresno State helps the community in respecting other backgrounds.

“Together we make up the next generation of leaders here among our students,” Castro said. “
0I want us to model how to be a leader in the most civil and peaceful way.”

Castro said other accomplishments he is excited to see grow are the newly established Jordan Agricultural Research Center and the start of the new wrestling and water polo seasons.

Castro said his message for the class of 2017 is special because they began this journey together.

“It’s a special group for me — we started as freshmen together. I’m proud of them,” he said. “I want to urge them to continue to be bold in their decisions about their careers and about their lives.”

He encourages the new alumni to always follow their values and to use it in navigating their future. He said that the new graduates should be proud to be Bulldogs and realize they are now role models for the rest of the community.

“The future is bright because of the graduates at Fresno State,” Castro said. “They’re going to do incredibly positive, powerful things, and we’ll all benefit because of those contributions.”

As for the rest of the students, Castro said the best is yet to come.

“We are going to continue to do better at serving [students] needs,” Castro said. “The university that [students] will attend next year is going to be even better than the one that existed this year.”

Castro is optimistic about the changes on campus, and newly-added faculty will bring a better academic experience.

Castro said it is an honor to serve the Fresno State community as president. He said that his inspiration lies in witnessing the passion Fresno State students have in making a difference.

Noting students’ engagement in leadership in and around campus and providing over one million hours of community service, Castro said he hopes the dedication will continue.

“I’m inspired by the mission that we have, and there’s no other institution in our society that grows leaders like we do,” Castro said. “Fresno State grows leaders, and we help to prepare the region for the future.”