Fresno State president talks changes that could be coming to campus

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- The fall semester at Fresno State begins Tuesday, Aug. 25, and officials say applications have increased at a rate that is twice the average of the California State University system.

The good news is big changes could be coming to the Fresno State campus, including more classes and new facilities. Fresno State President Joseph Castro says he's hired 40 more instructors and is working toward increasing the number of classes offered at the university. He also said plans are in the works to build a more than $50-million new student union and faculty center.

Castro took to the stage at the Save Mart Center on Friday for his fall 2015 address to staff. As the university begins its 105th year, Castro told the crowd that graduation rates have improved, with more students finishing their degree in six years, compared to a decade ago. Also, Fresno State continues to attract more students. One thousand more people applied to the university this year as compared to last year.

"In fact, our applications have increased at a rate that is twice the CSU average," said Castro.

Castro says the Student Cupboard -- a project that launched last year that provides free grocery items and sanitary products -- has now expanded to be open six days a week.

And to a room full of applause, Castro talked about more money for staff to help retain professors and provide more classes for students so they can graduate on time. Plus, he recently hired more than 40 new professors.

"We will grow again somewhere between 50 and 60 new professors a year from now, and so that gives us a really special opportunity to better serve our students," said Castro.

What perhaps is the biggest project Castro talked about is plans to build a brand new student union and faculty center. It's a project that he says could cost between $50 million and $80 million.

"Our current facility is wonderful, but it was built for a much smaller population of students, and it doesn't have a lot of the features that our students need," said Castro.

The college's current student union boasts a bowling alley, restaurants and places to study. Castro is working with a top architectural firm to design a new facility, complete with Wi-Fi and better technology.

Some students, though, think it's a waste of money, as the university will rely on private donations and some student fees to pay for it.

"I just think it's going to be a lot of money and a lot of cost, and for someone that doesn't get financial aid, I don't see the point in spending that much money," said student Kortney Seiler.

"There's also a 24/7 element of education today that I think this building will be able to better support," said Castro.

Also on President Castro's agenda: making Fresno State more tech-savvy. His new chief information officer from the Bay Area has goals to bring more innovative technology to students' fingertips. null
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