Aug 08, 2020

Students can thrive, despite cuts

Collegian File Photo

Welcome to campus for what I believe will be an exciting year as Fresno State begins its second century!

We had a very special Centennial celebration last year, and now we look forward to what is ahead in the first academic year of our university’s new century. I want to take this opportunity to give a special welcome to our new freshmen, transfers and graduate or credential students. Our new and returning numbers total 21,655, which included the largest freshman class in our history — 2,934 students.

As we begin our academic year, we’ve received the wonderful news that Professor Emeritus Philip Levine has been named Poet Laureate of the United States. Professor Levine, a Pulitzer Prize-winning poet, is an icon both in the literary world and at Fresno State, where he taught and inspired students from 1958-1992.
Google him and you’ll find lots of information on this amazing poet. Get better acquainted by checking out his books from the Madden Library or buying one from the Kennel Bookstore. You can meet Professor Levine when we honor him on campus this fall.

You know all too well that there has been a dramatic shift by the state in its commitment to funding higher education. Sadly, the state has disinvested in higher education and its commitment to access, so your tuition again has increased dramatically. Again.

I am extremely disappointed that our state has chosen to turn its back on higher education. It is ironic and disheartening that California citizens and legislators who benefitted from a free or low-cost public higher education in years past are unwilling to sacrifice and support today’s students who will lead our state in the future.

The result is a difficult budget year ahead — and for the foreseeable future — at Fresno State. But we haven’t given up. Our faculty, staff and administration are committed to doing our best to assure your continued progress toward graduation.

There is good news as we begin the fall semester. We’ve been able to renovate 132 classrooms, including a “head-to-toe” revamp in the Social Science Building. New technology was installed in many rooms and we’ll continue the work. You’ll notice that the Free Speech Area and University Center building also have been spruced up.

Our Aquatics Center is nearing completion. It will be used for academic purposes by the department of kinesiology and by athletics for our swimming and diving team.

A new faculty office building between the North Gym and the Aquatics Center has been included in the state budget and will get $9.7 million in bond money, once the state is able to sell bonds. The building will house faculty offices, lockers and labs to support nursing, physical therapy and athletics.

The university will participate in a new White House project, the President’s Interfaith and Community Service Campus Challenge, which invites institutions of higher education to commit to a year of interfaith cooperation and community service programming on campus.

We will host an academic conference, “Ethics, Religion and Civil Discourse in California,” in October that will include a panel discussion on how various religions and groups incorporate service into their faith traditions. A conversation between leaders of various student clubs and organizations will follow, with a focus on deciding if and how students might engage in a greater commitment to interfaith service. I invite you to participate.

As Bulldogs, you have the opportunity this year to exhibit the pride, spirit and determination that sets Fresno State students apart from all others. Please take advantage of the wonderful opportunities that this university has for you. Stay connected through Facebook, Twitter, and our other websites.

I hope you have a wonderful year at Fresno State!

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