California State University Chancellor Joseph I. Castro, who previously served as Fresno State’s eighth president, and first-lady Mary Castro have advocated for education in the Central Valley since their arrival at Fresno State in 2013. The Castros have spearheaded and reinforced multiple efforts to support student academic success and increase the quality of education in the Valley.
Because of their years of servant leadership, the Teachers and Friends of Education Honor Wall committee members at Fresno State will honor the Castros with a commemorative brick, with the inscription: “BOLD LEADERSHIP.” The date of the brick installation will be announced once scheduled.
These honor walls on campus are a place where educators in the Central Valley, and around the world, are recognized with personalized bricks. The vastness of the walls showcases the mass impact educators have. These walls line the entrance of Fresno State’s Kremen School of Education and Human Development, inspiring the Valley’s future teachers, counselors and educational leaders.
Since the first wall was built in 1998, there have been over 4,400 bricks dedicated, spanning four separate walls. Others who have been honored with bricks include Jim Yovino, superintendent of schools for Fresno County; Ashley Swearengin, Fresno’s 24th mayor; and Deputy Sheriff Joel Wahlenmaier and Police Officer Javier Bejar, heroes killed in the line of duty in Minkler.
The Castros have participated in multiple outreach efforts to local youth. They partnered with United Way Fresno, Madera Counties and Chevron to provide thousands of backpacks filled with school supplies to students ranging from fifth to eighth grade.
“Mary and I firmly believe there’s talent and potential in every household in our region,” Joseph I. Castro said.
They have also visited numerous churches to speak to Black youth about the importance of higher education, as part of an annual event of the California State University African American Initiative.
The Castros have supported Fresno State students’ ability to focus on academic success by spearheading a nationally-recognized food security project, the Student Cupboard. According to a 2017 CSU study, more than 43 percent of Fresno State students had experienced some level of food insecurity in the past year. Since the Student Cupboard opened in 2014, Mary Castro has been heavily involved in inspiring financial support for the project. She helped raise $327,275 at the 2020 March Match Up event.
“Empowering students to reach their academic goals by assisting in meeting their nutritional needs is one of the greatest investments our community is able to participate in,” Mary Castro said. “They are our future leaders.”
Early in Joseph Castro’s presidency, he signed on in support of the Move the Needle: Advancing Women Leaders in Higher Education campaign by the American Council on Education. Today, a majority of CSU presidents are female.
He also made sure the keep the Kremen School in mind during his final days at Fresno State. He funded the SECREd Garden project with $25,000 for an outdoor demonstration garden that will be used by Fresno State students and community members.
Earlier this month, he began his new role as chancellor of the 23-campus CSU system, the largest public, four-year system of higher education in the United States. He is the first California native and Mexican American to be appointed to this role.
“One of the most rewarding experiences of serving as Fresno State’s president,” he once said, “is connecting with prospective students and their families from all of our communities as I continue to share the important message about how a college degree can lead to life-changing and transformative opportunities for students, their families and communities.”
The Castros’ legacy will forever be engraved at the Teachers and Friends of Education Honor Wall at Fresno State.