Education

Fresno State president says he stands with undocumented students, pledges inclusion

Fresno State President Joseph Castro discusses the university’s distinctions in his Spring Assembly speech at the Save Mart Center on Thursday.
Fresno State President Joseph Castro discusses the university’s distinctions in his Spring Assembly speech at the Save Mart Center on Thursday. abriseno@fresnobee.com

Fresno State President Joseph I. Castro on Thursday addressed the university’s stance on undocumented students in his Spring Assembly speech at the Save Mart Center.

“We stand with every single student at Fresno State,” Castro said to the gathering of faculty and staff members.

President-elect Donald Trump drew a hard line in his campaign, vowing to crackdown on illegal immigration. “Our nation is deeply divided in so many fundamental ways,” Castro said. “I’m with you (DACA supporters) all the way.”

In June 2012, the Obama administration implemented the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals policy that allows certain students who entered the country as minors to attend school and work in the U.S. Trump has threatened to get rid of the program.

“Fresno State can and must play a critically important role as a venue where a wide range of opinions and ideas can be discussed,” Castro said.

He reminded attendees that the university started a Dream Success Center, a program that provides personal and academic services to immigrant students.

He said Fresno State faculty and staff need to be respectful models of how adults should express their thoughts on this new presidency.

“Listen to the thoughts of others,” he said, “especially when they differ from ours.”

Castro encouraged teachers to develop students who can become leaders when the nation faces challenges.

Fresno State Dream Success Center coordinator Gaby Encinas said there will be an informational forum soon that will talk about what might or might not happen to DACA students.

Castro also discussed Fresno State’s four priorities: improve teaching and learning through experience and contribute to the lifelong success of students; enhance the work environment and attract and retrain a unique staff; modernize the campus; and work with the community.

Castro cited the completion of the new Jordan Agricultural Research Center. The 30,000-square-foot facility opened in May 2016 and is the first building of its kind in the California State University system. The facility contributes to the research of agriculture, food and natural resources

Over the next three years, a team will work on a list of classrooms that need renovation.

In 2016, Fresno State received top recognition by U.S. News and World Report and Washington Monthly. U.S. News and World Report ranked the university the top in public school graduation rate performance. Fresno State competed alongside Ivy League institutions and was named the 25th-best college in the country by Washington Monthly.

The university is also known for volunteering more than 1 million hours toward community service.

More than $220 million of financial aid is given to Fresno State students, 80 percent of which is given through scholarships and grants. Castro also said the college’s DISCOVERe program, which provides qualified students the option to rent a tablet, has saved students more than 70 percent on the cost of textbooks.

Andrea Figueroa Briseño: 559-441-6074, @_AndreaBriseno

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