Castro announces arts commission at State of the University address

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  • State of the University address 2017

Castro announces arts commission at State of the University address

UPDATE – See video of Pres. Castro’s State of the University 2017 address: bit.ly/FS-SOTU17PresCastroSpeech  

Fresno State President Joseph I. Castro updated the community on the University’s 2016 successes during his State of the University address today at the Save Mart Center where he announced the formation of a new President’s Commission on the Future of Arts and Humanities that will be charged with considering the establishment of a new performing arts center.

More than 700 community leaders, alumni and staff attended the second year of the annual event, during which Castro highlighted Fresno State’s rise in national rankings and strides to support student success.

“Fresno State is on a positive trajectory that I have never seen before in my almost 30-year career. Our University — like our region — is blessed with almost unlimited potential,” Castro told the crowd. “Together, with the University and community working as one, the future of Fresno State and the Central Valley is very bright.”

He noted that as one of the largest employers and the largest university in the Central Valley, Fresno State drives the regional economy. The University’s annual regional economic impact tops $716 million, Castro said. For every dollar invested by the State of California, Fresno State returns $7 to the region. The University’s annual spending produces more than $26.2 million in local taxes and nearly $13.6 million in statewide taxes.

The new President’s Commission on the Future of Arts and Humanities will be comprised of faculty, administrators and leaders from the community and the nation. Castro charged the group with considering the establishment of a new performing arts center with adjoining state-of-the-art classrooms. The proposed building will be located on campus facing Shaw Avenue. Designed to welcome residents from throughout the Valley, the center will host a variety of theatre, dance and musical performances.

“A new performing arts center, along with our plans to build a new residential housing facility and a new student union and faculty center to replace their aging predecessors, will transform the face of Fresno State along Shaw Avenue, from Cedar to Maple. Each of these new buildings will require innovative and unique public-private financial partnerships to become a reality,” Castro said.

The vision for the Shaw frontage of campus will complement the investments made along Cedar Avenue, Castro explained. Through a combination of public and private funds, those enhancements included a soccer/lacrosse field, upgrades to the tennis courts and track, and eventual upgrades to Bulldog Stadium.

Castro highlighted several significant achievements, including:

  • The Kremen School of Education and Human Development’s partnership with the California Teaching Fellows Foundation employed 900 Fresno State students as mentors in K-12 schools throughout the Valley.
  • Fresno State offers great value to its students, now charging the least amount of tuition and fees of any of the 23 CSU campuses – nearly $3,000 less each year than the highest cost CSU.
  • More than $220 million was awarded in financial aid, about 80 percent of which is in the form of grants and scholarships. Loan indebtedness for Fresno State graduates — at $18,000 on average — is among the lowest in the nation.

Castro closed the event by thanking the community for supporting his presidency over the past three and a half years.

“It has been an adventure — a thrilling bull ride — every day serving alongside leaders like you who love the Valley as much as I do,” Castro said. “Many of you have that same motivation to make a difference because you grew up here, like me, and have seen the power of what having transparency and shared goals can do.”