EDITORIAL: Castro appears to be perfect fit as Fresno State president

Joseph Isaac Castro appears to be exactly what Fresno State needs in a president. He has the academic pedigree, life experiences and, at 46, the youthful optimism and energy to build upon the successes of outgoing president John D. Welty.

Castro knows the San Joaquin Valley like the back of his hand. He was born and raised in Hanford and was director of academic programs at the University of California Center in Fresno.

Yet he also brings an outsider's perspective from his 23 years at five UC campuses and time earning a doctorate at Stanford.

Then there's the fact that Castro is well-versed in two issues critical to elevating the Valley economy and quality of life: health care and K-12 education. While vice chancellor for Student Academic Affairs at UC San Francisco, he also was a faculty member in the UCSF School of Medicine and led the university's partnership with San Francisco Unified School District.

But Castro's greatest asset may be his ability to inspire thousands of Valley youngsters growing up in poverty to use education as the catalyst for realizing the American Dream.

He became a first-generation college student by taking advantage of a UC Berkeley outreach program targeting Latinos from Valley farming communities. He had taken the right classes and had the right grades and SAT scores to be admitted on the spot.

Clearly, Castro understands what it takes to overcome challenges, and his perspectives should enhance Fresno State's reputation (and mission) as a university of opportunity.

Our only disagreement with his selection is about the process. The California State University Board of Trustees, backed by CSU Chancellor Timothy B. White, prevented the community at-large from having a voice in this important decision by keeping the names of the finalists confidential and not holding public forums on campus.

We imagine that Castro would have impressed faculty, students and boosters in such a setting.

Now that he has become the eighth president in Fresno State's 102 years, we wish him and his family nothing but the best.