About 900 staff and faculty members attended this year’s Fall Assembly on Monday. Michael Price / The Collegian.
Communication is key, and that is what Fresno State President Joseph Castro and the Academic Senate and university staff expect to build this semester.
Lynn Williams, the chair of the Academic Senate, the representing body for university faculty members, said that attitude is critical for everyone to embrace. He said the senate’s goal is to build a good working relationship between Castro and the rest of the university.
“We need to be open and transparent with everyone,” Williams said. “We all want the best for the university, but we may have different ideas how to get to the top of Mt. Whitney. But we’ll work together.”
Counselor Education and Rehabilitation professor, Kyle Weir found Castro’s Valley background reassuring because it gives the new president familiarity with the unique issues of the region.
While it is an adjustment period for all involved parties on campus, there are priorities that departments and individuals want to see addressed. There is an expectation that the new administration will be open to suggestions.
“We need growth on the campus: revitalizing old buildings, remodeling, tearing them down, just a facelift on campus,” said Mike Nourian, a locksmith in Plant Operations. “We need to increase staff size. The campus has grown way faster than the staff we currently have.”
One topic the staff is glad to see being addressed is a pay raise. Williams said they have generally been patient during the five years of waiting for a raise because most of the country is in a financial crunch.
“It’s hard to look out the window and not find people who want a raise,” Williams said. “It’s natural.”
Williams said Castro expressed a desire for there to be modest raises in the near future.
“The campus has been through five years without salary increases for staff and faculty,” Castro said in an interview with The Collegian staff. “There will be some this year, that’s still being negotiated with unions and so forth. But that’s good news because we have really hard-working people here who are committed to the students, and we haven’t been able to show them the appreciation through salary increases.”
Beyond the financial stability for staff brought by possible raises, Williams said having competitive wages will appeal to the best and brightest new professors.
One new assistant professor, Maneka Brooks, said that, like Castro, she has a lot to learn about the university.
“I appreciated that rather than bring in his unique vision only, he’s talked about seeing what’s going on here first before his integrates his own ideas,” Brooks said. “I was really inspired by the emphasis he put on diversity and innovation because as a new faculty member those are two things that really attracted me to Fresno State.”