Fresno State President begins "new era" on campus with investment in tablets

FRESNO, Calif.

"Let's be bold. I want us to be bold in our creativity. I want us to generate new ideas, try new things, push ourselves in new and exciting ways," said Fresno State President Joseph Castro.

Speaking for his second time as head of the university, Castro said a new era of stability, renewal and growth is upon Fresno State. As part of his focus on increasing student success, he outlined a plan to put tablets in the hands of students and staff on campus.

"We'll launch the Fresno State tablet program in the fall, in August, and today I will invest in our first 40 faculty members who will be our pioneers in that program," he said.

This spring, professors from eight departments will get iPads as part of the new pilot program and will work together to come up with new ways to integrate them into classroom instruction.

"I'm expecting it will be used very differently in biology which might use it's drawing features as opposed to those in mass communications and journalism who will be doing interviews with their tablets," said Associate Provost Lynette Zelezny.

Castro said the university is working to upgrade its wireless and classroom technology to make the program a success when it launches with a thousand students in the fall.

"There's a lot of work we need to do between now and then," he added.

During his annual spring semester speech, he also unveiled plans to break ground on a new 300,000 square foot research facility. He said, the Jordan Research Center will include labs and project spaces for faculty in math, science and engineering. He also announced approval of $900,000 dollars in new funding for innovative strategies to increase student success and graduation rates.

"I want to make sure we tap into the interests and concerns of people of the Valley and I think that's the most exhilarating part of being president," he said.

Castro also talked about unveiling a "pathway" to reinstate wrestling as an intercollegiate sport at university, but said it's going to take the interest and collaboration of the community to get it done.

He said an increased investment from the state would allow for new funds to be set aside for salary increases for teaching staff, but said the details of a "multi-year plan" would need to be worked out during union negotiations.

Castro said his highest non-academic priority, though, is to replace aged electrical infrastructure on campus. He said he current infrastructure dates back to the 1950's and is a part of the original construction of the Shaw site.

Chancellor Timothy White approved $31 million back in August for phase one of the project. Construction is scheduled to begin this summer.

"It'll take two years from now for completion and it will be pretty intrusive with tunneling around campus, digging up and installing new wiring, but it's very important. We can't do what we need to do without upgrading infrastructure," he said.

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