As Fresno State enters the start of its 109th academic year, university administration and President Dr. Joseph I. Castro welcomed back faculty and staff at the Fall Assembly on Aug. 19 at the Satellite Student Union.
After an introduction from Academic Senate Chair and political science professor Thomas Holyoke, the assembly welcomed the newly appointed Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs Dr. Saúl Jiménez-Sandoval to the podium.
Jiménez-Sandoval discussed his goal of strengthening the relationship between the university and the surrounding community, as well his pledge to further the collaboration between Academic Affairs and Student Affairs in order to increase student involvement and graduation rates.
Castro spoke following the new provost. He discussed the latest university news, including the addition of 26 new tenure-track faculty.
But new faculty are not the only additions to the university.
This year, Fresno State admitted about 6,148 incoming students, 3,311 of whom are first-time freshmen, 1,976 undergraduate transfers and 861 post-baccalaureate/graduate students, for a total enrollment of 23,622 students, according to a university news release.
This enrollment number is more than 1,500 fewer students than were enrolled at the start of last fall. Castro said the cause of this decline was due to the university graduating more students than expected last spring.
Castro highlighted some of Fresno State’s latest accolades, including being ranked fourth out of 1,380 universities nationwide in the 2018 Social Mobility Index (SMI). The SMI measures the extent to which colleges educate economically disadvantaged students at lower tuition rates, helping them graduate and attain higher-paying jobs.
This ranking means Fresno State is one of only four California State University campuses to be listed among the top 20 colleges in the SMI for five consecutive years.
“We are helping talented and deserving students beat the odds,” Castro said. “Now that is what I would call bold.”
Fresno State was also ranked by Money Magazine as the 35th on its list of Best Public Colleges out of more than 700 four-year universities. The publication also listed Fresno State as 11th in the nation for most transformative colleges.
In discussing the budget, Castro announced that the university has committed $116 million toward major projects, such as the New Student Union, the Ruiz Executive Classroom Building, the modernization of two high-impact science laboratories and an expansion of child-care facilities.
Regarding the university’s Graduation Initiative 2025, which aims to raise Fresno State’s graduation rate to 70 percent by the year 2025, Castro said the university is nearing a 60 percent graduation rate. The official rate will be announced later this fall.
Castro also spoke about the university’s donor support, stating that in the previous academic year, the university received $27.6 million in contributions from about 11,500 individuals. Alumni participation also increased by 17 percent.
On the academic side, Castro announced that Fresno State will be offering several new majors and options across various colleges, including the College of Arts and Humanities; the College of Science and Mathematics; the College of Social Sciences; as well as the Kremen School and the Continuing and Global Education’s new online degree completion pathway to earn a bachelor’s degree in liberal arts.
The president also recognized four faculty and staff members for their commitment and work that has helped contribute to the university’s success.
Those honored were Brad Barker, senior director of Cloud Strategies, Infrastructure and Technology Support; Dr. Imelda Basurto, professor in literacy, early, bilingual and special education; Daunette Dryden, assistant to the provost and vice president for academic affairs; and Mehrzad Zarrin, assistant director of university union facilities and operations.