Fresno State President Dr. Joseph I. Castro welcomed 2,500 faculty and staff back to campus on Monday during the annual faculty and staff fall assembly at the Save Mart Center, where he teased major projects in the works and what he views as the campus’ positive trajectory.
The projected enrollment for fall semester is 25,200 students – a record. According to Castro, more than 29,000 students applied for fall admission, including 26,000 who applied for 5,400 open undergraduate spots.
Castro noted that Washington Monthly ranked Fresno State the 17th best university nationally last year, and U.S. News & World Report ranked the campus as one of the top universities in the U.S. for graduation performance last year also. And, he reminded, in May a record 6,000-plus degrees were awarded to graduates.
Castro commented that graduation rates are higher than ever, according to a news release following the event. According to Castro, community college transfer students graduate at an 80 percent rate. He also pointed out that the graduation gap among different groups of students has been virtually eliminated.
He said 60 new tenure-track faculty will be teaching on campus this academic year. Fifty-seven begin this semester.
Castro said the Kennel Bookstore has been working with faculty to give “immediate access” to course materials for students on the first day of classes, which is this Thursday. According to the release, the immediate access program is expected to save students in 79 courses more than $500,000 this semester.
In speaking about infrastructure, Castro highlighted the modernization of 11 of the campus’ most used classrooms. Some were completed over the summer, and others will be done by December of next year, he said.
“We will continue planning for the new student union and initiate a public and private partnership for a new central plant for heating and cooling buildings across the campus,” Castro said. “We also plan to initiate a public and private partnership to construct new student housing on campus.”
He mentioned private fundraising increased 22 percent last academic year, including a 35 percent increase in giving for academics. The President’s Circle of Excellence, which is funding he uses to support a wide array of campus programs, increased 170 percent, highlighted by a $500,000 anonymous gift.
Castro also spoke about the university’s commitment to sharing ideas and perspectives while placing an emphasis on civil dialogue. He said that a series of focus groups of faculty and staff will contribute to a document that’s currently called “Principles of Community: how we treat each other.”
This follows a speech incident in the spring where a professor came under fire for tweeting anti-Barbara Bush messages.
Castro said the resulting principles in the document will help define behaviors and actions that align with the university’s values. He said the Academic Senate will discuss appropriate social media practices for faculty.
Senate chair Dr. Tom Holyoke and interim provost Robert Harper will host discussions among faculty and administrators on expectations for professionalism and mutual respect. Castro also encouraged everyone to attend the Sept. 17 forum on the First Amendment, to be hosted by the newly-established Fresno State Institute for Media and Public Trust.
Castro also recognized three faculty and staff members for their service and contributions to the campus’ pursuit of excellence. The three were: Diana Karaeozian from Student Health Services; Dr. K.C. Chen of the Department of Finance in the Craig School of Business; and Daryl Fitzgerald, director of corporate and foundation relations.