CSU Chancellor pardons turkey during first visit to Fresno State

FRESNO, Calif.

"If you sit down a little bit, then I know you're a bulldog fan and I'll pardon you, but if you're not a bulldog fan, Oh, you are pardoned," said White as the turkey slowly sat down on the table.

The spared gobbler will now spend the rest of his days at Wellsford Ranch in Modesto, the same poultry farm that provided the presidential turkey to President Barrack Obama back in 2010.

"Coming and visiting his alma mater we wanted this visit to stick out and no school will be able to do anything similar," said Associated Student President Moses Menchaca.

White, who is the seventh chancellor to lead the 23 campus system, visited Fresno State on Wednesday as part of a system-wide tour.

During his stay, the Fresno State alumnus (1970) and the 1997 "Top Dog Distinguished Alumnus," met with students and talked with faculty to get a feel for the campus's strengths and to identify areas to build upon in the future.

"You can read all this material or go online, but for me I'm a tactical learner. I need to touch, feel and smell and listen to students and faculty," he said. "It helps me understand the job I have."

When asked what he thought of Fresno State President Dr. Joseph Castro's latest initiative to bring wrestling back to university athletics he said:

"I'm proud of Joe for listening to the community. There are financial issues, there are title nine issues, a bunch of details we'll get worked out if there's the will and the community will support it, but it's the right thing to do.

He said he supports Castro's efforts because offering another sport to students is just another way to attract those who wouldn't ordinarily choose to pursue a college degree to the campus.

"It also builds pride about Fresno State and athletics. People come to watch a wrestling match and end up learning something about agriculture or business or finance," he said.

Menchaca was pleased to hear White's reaction.

"Wrestling is big in the Valley and it's exciting to see that people are even discussing it," he said.

White said he's also looking into funding for an additional 800 students at Fresno State next year, but may not be able to afford all of the slots the President Castro requested last week.

"We're in the process of talking to all 23 campuses about their hopes for funded enrollment. We have a finite amount of resources and when you add it all up there are 14,862 students they want to bring into their various campuses," he said. "I looked at how much money we're anticipating for next year and we can only support about 8,000 so now I'm in the process of working with each of the Presidents to say ok, I understand what your raw request is, but I've got to judge across the system."

White also fielded questions from faculty regarding research opportunities, compensation and future growth. He told a group of about two dozen people in an open forum that it's unrealistic for the CSU system to restore salaries to pre-recession rates. He also encouraged the college to build more relationships with the community outside of the campus.

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