Jul 02, 2020
Fresno State President Joseph Castro delivers his speech highlighting the different achievements of Fresno State in the past year during the "State of the University" on Feb. 8, 2018. (Ram Reyes/The Collegian)

‘Year of the Bulldogs’: Castro’s push for Valley leaders

Fresno State President Dr. Joseph Castro has goals of sending home-grown leaders to tackle the Valley’s top issues.

During his third annual “State of the University” speech last Thursday, Castro announced his plans for sending new graduates out to flourish in their prospective industries.

With Chinese New Year beginning this month, and it being the Year of the Dog, Castro deemed it appropriate for this push for success to be called the “Year of the Bulldogs”.

“Fresno State sits in the heart of our Central Valley and plays a pivotal role in our region’s economic development,” Castro said. “The Valley is a special place with many unique assets, including talented students from close-knit families who are committed to our region.”  

The address at the Save Mart Center was an opportunity to showcase the university’s past accomplishments  and future ambitions to university donors and local public figures.

University Provost Dr. Lynnette Zelezny highlighted student accomplishments through various campus programs.

“Student success is the result of the great work of our talented faculty and staff who encourage, mentor and guide our students,” Zelezny said. “I applaud your efforts to integrate research and technology and to promote innovation.”

Zelezny said that the new service-learning courses, advancements to agricultural facilities and the Jan and Bud Richter Center for Community Engagement and Service-Learning have played a role in advancing the academic experience for students. The Richter center celebrated 10 years of service.

Castro also joined in telling the community leaders about the university’s recent accomplishments. He spoke of the launch of the bachelor of science program for city and regional planning and the mathematics and science teacher initiative, which awarded more than 90 credentials.

The Hawaii Bowl victory by the football team was also noted.

Fred Ruiz, co-founder of Ruiz Foods, was surprised when Castro awarded him with the 2018 President’s Medal of Distinction. It is the highest nondegree award presented by the university.

“You are a pioneer and role model,” Castro said to Ruiz. “You have embodied caring for community through your investment of volunteer leadership, advocacy and giving.

Among his contributions to Fresno State, Ruiz helped found the Institute of Family Business through the Craig School of Business.

Castro also touched on a potential project that was revealed last year, a creative and performing arts center.

He explained that the “President’s Commission of the Future of Arts and Humanities” is currently finalizing a report that will showcase the need for a facility that could help bridge the community and university through the arts.

“The College of Arts and Humanities is the one college that serves all Fresno State students,” Castro said. “Writing and oral communication are taught through this college and are essential when a graduate enters the workplace.”  

Castro emphasized the importance of partnership between the university and the community to benefit students.

“As a university president, there are many levers to ensuring the success of our students, and today I’ve emphasized one of them,” Castro said. “…that when a university and community intentionally collaborate, regional challenges can be tackled and the next generation of leaders can grow.”

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