Four new members have been elected to the Board of Governors of the California State University, Fresno Foundation, a private, nonprofit public benefit corporation which was established in 1931.

The foundation’s mission is to advance the university’s strategic objectives by encouraging philanthropy, inspiring leadership and promoting fiscal accountability. The Foundation is responsible for management of the financial activities relating to sponsored research grants and contracts, acceptance of gifts and donations, and oversight of investments that includes a $133 million endowment.

This 29-member board includes representation from the university’s administration and local community representatives. The new members are:

  • Darius Assemi of Fresno, president of Granville Home, a company that has built over 5,000 homes with an emphasis on building lifestyle communities and infill development. Granville Homes is also a supporter of Downtown Revitalization, having built four upscale multifamily projects that have brought several hundred new residents to the Cultural Arts District in Fresno. Innovative programs like Granville’s Home of Hope have raised close to $3 million dollars since its inception in 2006. In addition, a global partnership with American Medical Overseas Relief (AMOR), an organization that operates a hospital in Afghanistan focused on the well-being of women and children, has permitted for the treatment of more than 3,500 patients each month. Assemi, a native of Iran, graduated cum laude from Fresno State in 1983 with a degree in Civil Engineering.
  • Carol Chandler of Selma, a partner in Chandler Farms, LP. She, her husband and two sons farm grapes, almonds and tree fruit in the Selma area. She assists with the business administration portion of the operation. Chandler served as state president of California Women for Agriculture and is a member of the boards of Western Growers, California Grape and Tree Fruit League and the Fresno Regional Foundation. She served on the California Postsecondary Education Commission, the University of California Board of Regents, the California State University Board of Trustees and the board of the Fresno State Alumni Association. Chandler received her bachelor’s degree from the University of California, Davis and a master’s degree from Fresno State.
  • Omel Nieves of Pasadena, an attorney, partner and chief operating officer in the firm Hunt, Ortmann, Palffy, Nieves, Darling & Mah, Inc. Nieves has earned a national reputation for excellence in representing the construction and real estate industries. He is also a business litigation lawyer and has been named a California Super Lawyer yearly since 2007. He served for a decade on the Pasadena Chamber of Commerce Executive Committee and gave his time as their legal counsel for five years. He has served on various commissions and special task forces for the City of Pasadena. Nieves was co-chair of the successful $214 million dollar Campaign for Fresno State. As a senior at Fresno State, Nieves was co-captain of the winning National Invitational Tournament Fresno State basketball team. He graduated with a degree in Physical Education and then earned a Juris Doctor degree from University of California, Davis.
  • William S. “Bill” Smittcamp of Clovis, president and CEO of Wawona Frozen Foods, Inc., a family-owned company that grows, processes and supplies frozen fruit products worldwide. Under Smittcamp’s leadership, the company has grown to be the largest frozen peach processor in the nation. Smittcamp serves on several community boards, including Trustees for Children’s Hospital Central California, Central Valley Community Bank, Garfield Water District, USDA Fruit & Vegetable Advisory Committee and Every Neighborhood Partnership. He also serves on the USDA Fruit & Vegetable Advisory Committee in Washington, DC, Cal Poly Food & Nutrition Advisory Board and the Fresno Food Expo Advisory Committee. He earned his bachelor of science degree in Business Administration from Fresno State in 1975.


“I am thrilled that these four distinguished alumni and very successful businesspeople have enthusiastically agreed to serve on our Foundation Board of Governors,” said Fresno State President Joseph I. Castro. “They, along with our other members of the board, will help Fresno State to achieve new heights of success in the future.”

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