Dr. Joseph Castro begins role as Fresno State President

August 1, 2013 12:00:00 AM PDT
It was an historic day at California State University Fresno Thursday, as Dr. Joseph Castro officially began his role as the university's eighth president.

The Hanford Native is the first Californian and Latino to lead Fresno State. During a news conference inside the campus library, he said he was excited to return to the Central Valley and continue building on efforts that focus on student success.

"I'm very excited about being here, it's an incredible privilege to serve as president of the university and to be able to do it in your own home area just adds that extra special feeling," said Castro.

"We've done an incredible job of attracting and graduating so many students, especially those who are first-generation to college. And that's actually something that really attracted me to this role is the fact there's so many of those students who are coming from all around the Valley."

Castro said it's an exciting time to join the administration. The California State budget is showing signs of improvement and he expects to kick off the year with record-breaking enrollment. Some 22,710 students are expected to attend in the Fall, that's about 150 more than last year. The number of first-time freshman and upper division transfer students is also predicted to reach an all-time high. But Castro was particularly emotional over the amount of first-generation college students choosing to go to Fresno State and had a message for the Valley's youth.

"No matter whether your family has a lot of money or a little money; no matter if you live in a large house or a small house; or if you would be the first in your family to attend and graduate from college; your future is bright," Castro said. "Because the future of our youth is so bright, so is the future of this great Central Valley."

Those words resonated with Associated Student President Moses Menchaca, who's also a Valley native and is the first in his family to attend college.

The two spent the lunch hour discussing the goals of ASI and how they can collaborate to improve students overall experience at the university.

"I think he's more in touch with students. President Welty did an amazing job and now I'm excited to see the amazing work Castro will continue to do," said Menchaca. "One thing I've heard a lot from students is his ability to tweet back to students and I realize I need to get a twitter account now to keep up with President Castro."

Castro invited others to follow him on Twitter and said he planned to use the technology to build a larger community.

When asked what his first priorities are as University President, he said the search for a new Provost is high on the list. Interim Provost Andrew Hoff delayed his retirement until the university fills the position vacated when William Covino was appointed by CSU Trustees as President of CSU Los Angles in May.

The national search for a new provost will kick off in September with the hopes of appointing someone in the spring.

In the meantime, Castro will begin moving his wife Mary and their two-year-old son into the University House on Saturday. He will make his first address to the campus community on Aug. 19 at the Save Mart Center in this year's Fall Faculty and Staff Assembly.


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