Fresno State President Joseph Castro launched the first of four “community conversation” tours to Valley cities by meeting with business, education and community leaders at College of the Sequoias.
“We want to have more students from this area going to Fresno State, graduating, staying here in the Valley and becoming part of the next generation of leadership,” Castro said.
The audience of about 100 people – dozens raised their hands when Castro asked how many were graduates of Fresno State – assembled Monday at a campus lecture hall.
“He was himself, I thought,” said former Assembly Member Connie Conway of Tulare, recently appointed to the 17-member California Community Colleges Board of Governors. “This really is an effort to partner with COS.”
We want to have more students from this area going to Fresno State.
Joseph Castro, president of California State University, Fresno
During a question and answer session, business leader Fred Ruiz of Dinuba, vice chairman of the University of California Board of Regents, said public colleges are nearing capacity.
“I believe education is the dream for so many of our students,” Ruiz said. “Now we won’t have a place for them.”
Castro said he shared those concerns.
“As California residents, we can invest more in higher education,” he said.
70Additional professors being hired at Fresno State
To accommodate more students, state colleges are hiring faculty and Fresno State is hiring 70 more professors, he said.
Colleges must be “as smart and efficient as possible” so students graduate “in a timely way” to make way for others, particularly those coming in from community colleges, he said.
Fresno State has about 24,000 students, he said.
The two things preventing the college from growing are “money and buildings,” he said. “If we have the resources, we will grow and accommodate the demand that exists.”
Castro said the Fresno State Center at COS, where students can join some classes remotely and take graduate classes in some fields, merits more attention.
“I’d like to re-imagine it,” he said. “I’d like it to be a different, bolder place, more dynamic, offering more programs.”
Educators from outlying school districts in Tulare County told Castro there is a teacher shortage, especially in math and science.
“We hear you loud and clear,” Castro said. “We’re committed to making adjustments to prepare more teachers for schools here in the Valley, and especially in math and science.”
Castro said there is a “South Valley initiative” at the Kremen School of Education “for South Valley students who want to go into teaching careers … It’s about building more of a teacher pipeline here in the South Valley.”
The next community conservation will take place Jan. 21 in Madera at the Madera County Office of Education, with visits being planned at West Hills College-Lemoore and Reedley College.