The first semester of the DISCOVERe tablet program at Fresno State was an unqualified success, with 83.5 percent of students and 91.7 percent of faculty giving the tablet program a thumbs-up, President Joseph I. Castro said in a speech to faculty and staff at the annual spring semester kickoff meeting.

In addition, tablet students are enjoying significant savings in textbook costs, Castro said. Data shows they saved 55 percent for DISCOVERe course materials in fall 2014, as compared with the same courses in fall 2013.

“Why are we doing this? Student success.” Castro told faculty and staff at the Save Mart Center.

“There is growing evidence that students who participate in tablet classes learn more and achieve higher grades than those in traditional courses,” he said.

In the fall semester, 1,079 students completed the first courses of this initiative. More than 40 classes using tablet technology were taught by 32 faculty members.

At this point, 566 students have enrolled in 33 spring tablet classes. Plans call for continued development and next fall 5,000 students and 120 faculty are expected to be in tablet classes.

Castro said another important student success initiative is the new Food Security program. One component, the Student Cupboard, opened just before Thanksgiving and provides food and hygiene items at no cost for Fresno State students and their families.

In the first 19 days that the Student Cupboard was open before the holiday break, it had 191 visits by 111 students. The items provided served a total of 677 people.

“We want our students to be successful, which means they need to be nourished,’ Castro said. “We don’t want them to have to decide between buying books for class or food to eat.”

Castro said many Fresno State offices collected food and hygiene items at their holiday parties and individuals have contributed. A local family recently provided a generous gift directed to address food insecurity among our students, in honor of their late son.

Other topics that Castro addressed in his speech included:

  • Work to upgrade to the electrical infrastructure, which he calls the highest non-academic priority, will begin within weeks. The $30 million for the project committed by the California State University system has been secured and a contract signed with Ryan Company to serve as general contractor.
  • Fresno State has received grants and has been invited to participate as a partner at the national level with the White House Initiative on Asian American and Native American Pacific Islander Serving Institutions.
  • An American Indian Recruitment and Resource Initiative has been established to increase the number of American Indian students enrolling and graduating.
  • Recent national recognition includes two awards from the American Association of State Colleges and Universities and selection by the Carnegie Foundation for its 2015 Community Engagement Classification.
  • Fresno State athletic programs are rising alongside of academics. In 2013-14, the cumulative GPA of student-athletes was 3.07.

Castro recognized several faculty and staff members for their “scholarship, hard work, innovative ideas and effective leadership.” He also recognized Gavin Baird, a senior political science major and economics minor, who is among the 31 winners nationwide of the prestigious Marshall Scholarship. He will study International Relations at the London School of Economics and Political Science.

For more information contact Shirley Armbruster at 559.278.5292 or

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