Fresno State President Joseph I. Castro addressed supporters and community leaders about the University’s successes during the fourth annual State of the University breakfast at the Save Mart Center this morning.

About 740 community leaders, alumni and staff attended the State of the University, during which Castro honored alumnus and longtime University supporter John E. Horstmann with the President’s Medal of Distinction.

Established in 1993, the President’s Medal of Distinction is the highest non-degree award presented by Fresno State. It is given to citizens of the region, state or nation whose contributions in the area of professional achievements or public service are of national or international significance.

Horstmann, who earned his bachelor’s degree in marketing at Fresno State in 1958, has a long history of commitment to the community and the University. His company, Horstmann Financial and Insurance Services, enjoys an outstanding reputation for service.

“Your professional achievements in the finance and insurance industry, alongside your continuing service to the Central Valley, exemplify leadership,” Castro said to Horstmann during the event. “At Fresno State, we are grateful for your many contributions to student success and engagement … including gifts to the President’s Circle for Excellence, multiple colleges and too many programs to mention.”

Affectionately known as “The Dogfather,” Horstmann and his wife, Lollie, bought live mascot Victor E. Bulldog III and donated him to the Fresno State Alumni Association in 2015. He and his family donate turkeys to the Fresno State Student Cupboard to support students facing food insecurity at Thanksgiving.

Horstmann and his company, Horstmann Financial and Insurance Services, have supported Fresno State financially through gifts to the President’s Circle for Excellence, Victor E. Bulldog, Bulldog Foundation, Fresno State Alumni Association, Student Cupboard, Ag One Foundation, Craig School of Business, College of Science and Mathematics, Lyles Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, College of Social Sciences, Centennial Celebration, Henry Madden Library, Smittcamp Family Honors College, Save Mart Center, Bulldog Marching Band, Kremen School of Education and Human Development and multiple capital projects across the University.

Previous awards that Horstmann has received include being named Outstanding Alumnus for the Craig School of Business at the Top Dog Alumni Awards Gala in 2007 and the Leon S. Peters Award given by the Fresno Chamber of Commerce in 2013.

Past recipients of the President’s Medal of Distinction are Fred Ruiz (2018), Fran Pavley (2016), Ray Steele Jr. (2015), Justice Armando Rodriguez (2015), Justice Marvin Baxter (2014), John “Phil” Larsen (2014), Jim Nielsen (2012), Richard D. Hovannisian (2012), Satoshi “Fibber” Hirayama (2009), Ulises Ruiz Ortiz (2006), His Holiness Karekin II (2005), Robert E. Coyle (2003), M. Victoria Kazan (1998), Kenneth L. Maddy (1998), Meline Kalfayan (1998), Joe Williams (1994) and George Kauffman (1994).

After Castro highlighted achievements by several outstanding recent graduates and faculty research projects, he wrapped up the event by focusing on the growing successes Fresno State has experienced in the years since coming out of the Great Recession.

“The state of California State University, Fresno is undeniably strong,” he concluded, thanks to students, faculty, staff, alumni, community members and regional leaders.