A record 22,710 students are enrolled at Fresno State this fall, President Joseph Castro said Thursday, which is nearly 200 more students than this time last year.
Castro discussed enrollment with reporters on his first day as the university's president.
He said more than 3,330 freshmen will join the Fresno State community this month, also a record for the university. Official enrollment figures will be released in September.
Vice President of Student Affairs Paul Oliaro said he's not sure whether more classes will be added to make room for the influx. He said new students -- who have traditionally registered later than upperclassmen -- didn't have trouble securing spots in required courses.
"That was a message to us that we have the right number of classes in place for incoming students to get them off to a good start," he said.
During his first major appearance since accepting Fresno State's top position, Castro said his priorities include increasing on-time graduates, helping drive the local economy and partnering with community colleges to build pathways from those schools to Fresno State.
"The first thing is really to get to know people, listen to their perspectives ... and understand the culture here," he said. "I have a lot of ideas and I'm going to bring those to the table. One of the things I've already said is ... I want to continue to build on efforts that focus on the success of our students."
He offered few details on how he'll zero in on those goals, saying he hopes to get the "lay of the land" during his first few months.
During a press conference, Castro also said:
<SC120,116>The university has hired 48 new professors in preparation for classes, which start on Aug. 22.
<SC120,116>The search for Fresno State's next provost will begin in September. Castro said he expects to fill the slot by spring semester.
Castro takes over for John Welty, who departed his job of 22 years on Wednesday. Castro will be paid $299,000.
He had "a few" butterflies Thursday morning, but the Hanford native said he's happy to be home in the Valley. He said he's already "bought a lot of red ties and got rid of all the blue ones," referring to the University of California, San Francisco where he most recently worked as vice chancellor of student academic affairs. Fresno State's colors are red and blue.
Castro spent his first day on the job like any new employee: filling out human resources forms, buying a campus parking pass and meeting his co-workers. But he also was welcomed by giant banners sporting a photo of his face and took a half-hour to field media questions.
He said he's already moved a few boxes into his office on the fourth floor of Fresno State's Henry Madden Library, and will begin unpacking at his new home on Van Ness Boulevard on Saturday. He ate lunch with student government leader Moses Menchaca and met with faculty.
Kevin Ayotte, vice chair of Fresno State's Academic Senate, spent 30 minutes with Castro. He said they talked about shared governance -- a concept that means there's balance between faculty and administrative involvement in how the university operates.
After their meeting, Ayotte told The Bee there have been quibbles between professors and higher-ups in previous years about issues that included the budgeting process.
Faculty are also concerned about classroom space and salaries -- he said professors haven't had a raise in at least five years, and many of his colleagues are looking elsewhere for jobs.
Castro, he says, has the opportunity to add transparency and build trust among professors.
"I think there is very definitely room for growth," he said. "But I think it was important, for example, that faculty members were appointed to (a) budget-review committee. I think there are additional questions about transparency with budgets that need to be addressed."
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