FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- It's been a little over two years since Dr. Joseph Castro took the reigns as the eighth president of Fresno State and already the university is showing signs of growth and increased achievement.
It's an incredible feat considering Fresno State has one of the more underprivileged university student populations in the country.
A friendly and relatively quiet demeanor serve as a bridge to the students and faculty at Fresno State. But make no mistake, Dr. Castro means business and his business is to make this university one of the best in the state.
When he took the helm two years ago less than 50-percent of students who started at Fresno State actually graduated. Today, 58-percent of students who start get a diploma and Dr. Castro's goal is to raise that percentage to 70 in the next eight years. It's a pretty lofty goal considering 80- percent of Fresno State students rely on some sort of financial aid. Dr. Castro says, "Over 60-percent of them get Pell Grants from the federal government, over 70-percent of them are the first in their families to go to college, some of them need remedial education."
In addition to the economic hurdles Dr. Castro has had to deal with athletic suspensions, a terror threat on campus, and a potential strike by faculty at Cal State Universities system wide.
The 48-year-old husband and father of three remains upbeat and up to date. He's an avid fan of Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter-- even live tweeting with periscope. He explains, "I use it as a way to stay in touch with people, because there are 24,000 students and thousands of faculty and 200,000 alumni-- and one of me."
He even answered a student's question on twitter about a broken classroom clock. He enjoys the immediate feedback but he also wants students and faculty to be technologically savvy.
On the first floor of the Madden Library students, staff, and the general public can take advantage of what Dr. Castro calls the "genius bar." A computer area with computer "geeks" at the ready to answer any technology related questions. Another part of the Discover-E Program is to put thousands of tablets in the hands of Fresno State students. Dr. Castro said, "The students have saved $500 per semester on textbooks on average. That's a huge savings on their debt level. It enables them to work a little less, maybe graduate a little sooner."
From textbook savings to twitter responses it's clear Dr. Castro is invested in Fresno State students. And one fun fact, Dr. Castro not only has two grown children, he also has a four-yea- old who attends school right on the Fresno State Campus at the early education center.
Fresno State president helping the university achieve greater success