Education · Fresno · Highlight

Fresno State’s Castro named next Calif. State University chancellor

After seven years helming Fresno State, Dr. Joseph I. Castro is taking a promotion – as Chancellor of the California State University system.

The public university system announced Castro’s appointment Wednesday morning. He will succeed Timothy P. White, who retired from the post after an eight-year stint.

Upon White’s retirement announcement nearly a year ago, Castro’s name began circulating as a potential Chancellor successor.

At the time, Fresno State officials scuttled the rumor mill, stating Castro would not be a candidate for the position.

Now, he has three months to prepare before taking the reins at the CSU Office of the Chancellor in Long Beach on Jan. 4, 2021.

An interim Fresno State president will be named at the beginning of 2021, with a national search for a permanent Fresno State president launching shortly thereafter.

With the appointment, Castro becomes the first Mexican-American and California native to run the 23-campus university system.

A native son of Hanford, Castro was raised by a single mother and was the first in his family to complete a college education, graduating with bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of California, Berkeley.

He would later attain a Ph.D. in higher education policy from Stanford University.

“The California State University provides unprecedented and transformational opportunities for students from all backgrounds to earn a high-quality college degree and to better their families, their communities and and the industries in which they become leaders,” Castro said in a statement.

“I am truly grateful for and excited about this unique and wonderful opportunity, and I look forward to working with the talented faculty, staff and presidents of the 23 campuses as well the Board of Trustees and executives and staff at the Chancellor’s Office to further increase achievement for our 482,000 students.”

Castro arrived to Fresno State, succeeding long-time President John Welty, and quickly worked on a rebrand of the university and embraced a new motto: “Be Bold.”

Openly accessible via Twitter, Castro helped push the regional university into national rankings with Washington Monthly and U.S. News and World Report.

He also weathered storms that have become typical of 21st Century academia – namely controversies of inflammatory speech involving two faculty members Lars Maischak and Randa Jarrar.

Maischak, an adjunct lecturer of American history at the university, called for President Donald Trump to be hanged in 2017. The comments resulted in a university-issued suspension for a semester.

Jarrar, who referred to former First Lady Barbara Bush upon her death as an “amazing racist” who “raised a war criminal,” was the subject of national debate. She was ultimately not suspended by the university, a topic that weighed heavily on Castro’s tenure.

In recent months, claims of minimal investigation into alleged sexual assault within Fresno State’s Greek system have bubbled up, albeit muted due to the shift of education to distance learning.

Alex Tavlian
Alex Tavlian is the Executive Editor of The San Joaquin Valley Sun and Executive Director of Valley Future Foundation. You can reach Alex at alex.tavlian@sjvsun.com.