Discovery that occurs at Fresno State every day has significant implications for the future of the Central Valley and beyond, Fresno State President Joseph I. Castro told the University’s faculty and staff who gathered at the Save Mart Center on Jan. 11 for the annual spring semester assembly.

“We know that talent exists in every household and one of our goals is to help unleash this talent and prepare a new generation of leaders,” Castro said. “I cannot imagine a more inspirational call to action than this one.”

Faculty and staff gathered at the event to hear Castro’s vision for the year ahead and to engage in a question and answer session leading up to the first day of semester instruction on Jan. 16.

Fresno State’s institutional values are embodied by the three Ds — discovery, diversity and distinction. Castro focused on the impact of discovery in his address.

“Universities like Fresno State are places where a full range of ideas can be discussed and debated. It is through discussion and debate that we discover new ways of thinking and it is how we grow as individuals,” Castro said, urging faculty and staff to continue to embrace the value of discovery and focus on the University’s mission to boldly educate and empower students for success.

“If we all do this, I am confident that Fresno State will continue its ascension as one of the nation’s leading universities,” Castro said.

He went on to highlight successes over the past year, including Fresno State’s ranking as the nation’s No. 17 university by Washington Monthly, a D.C.-based magazine known for its annual rankings of American college and universities.

Castro outlined the University’s improving graduation rates amidst the California State University’s Graduation Initiative 2025, which calls for increased graduation rates and an elimination of graduation gaps between and among groups of students.

“While this national recognition deserves to be celebrated, we have more work — perhaps even more challenging work — ahead,” Castro said. “We will continue to be challenged by scarce resources, but we have the opportunity to sustain what we do best. … I urge us to focus our time and attention on high-impact practices that help our students succeed.”

To address those scarce resources and support a culture of philanthropy in the Central Valley and beyond, Fresno State hosted its first-ever Day of Giving on Nov. 2. Castro shared details of how the community and alumni and friends across the nation and internationally rallied together to make the 24-hour campaign a success. By the end of the day, 1,123 donors — many of them donating for the first time — gave more than $424,000 to their areas of preference across campus.

Fresno State will continue to deepen and develop community partnerships, Castro said, such as the Chevron partnership that will propel science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) programs across campus and the $1 million gift from a supporter who wishes to remain anonymous that will support genetics and molecular biology research.

Castro said Fresno State will continue its aggressive efforts to enhance teaching and learning spaces. This summer, eight classrooms will be upgraded at a cost of $5.1 million. In summer 2019, four more classrooms will be upgraded at a cost of $5.7 million. This past fall, the University opened two new science laboratories using a mix of state, campus and private funding.