In his final weeks as president of Fresno State, Dr. Joseph I. Castro announced two new appointments to Fresno State boards — NBA executive and former Fresno State basketball standout Rod Higgins to the Foundation Board of Governors and organic farmer, memory keeper and artist Nikiko Masumoto to the University Advisory Board.

“These incredible leaders will bring their nationally recognized expertise and diverse perspectives to our boards with these appointments,” Castro said. “Both boards are instrumental in helping Fresno State achieve its critical mission of empowering future leaders for the Central Valley and beyond.”

Higgins was appointed effective Oct. 29, and Masumoto will begin serving in the new year.

Rod Higgins

Rod Higgins

Rod Higgins

The Foundation Board of Governors’ mission is to advance the University’s strategic objectives by encouraging philanthropy, inspiring leadership and promoting fiscal accountability. The 33-member board includes community members who represent a diverse array of business and industry expertise.

Higgins should be a familiar name to those who followed the success of the Fresno State men’s basketball team during the Boyd Grant years. The Bulldogs finished the 1981-82 campaign ranked No. 11 in the nation by the Associated Press with a 27-3 record and a Sweet 16 appearance led by Higgins, Donald Mason, Bernard Thompson, Bobby Davis and Tyrone Bradley.

The Chicago Bulls drafted Higgins in the second round of the 1982 NBA draft. Higgins played in the NBA for 13 seasons (1982-1994), as a member of the Chicago Bulls, Seattle SuperSonics, San Antonio Spurs and Golden State Warriors, among others.

From 2007 to 2014, he was with the Charlotte Hornets, starting as general manager, later going on to become president. After Higgins left the Hornets he joined the Atlanta Hawks as a college scout in 2017 and was then promoted to vice president of basketball operations for the Hawks in 2018.

Nikiko Masumoto

Nikiko Masumoto (photo by Brad Shirakawa)

The 22-member University Advisory Board is a panel of community members that provides strategic input on development of the University. Members generally serve three-year terms. According to the University Advisory Board website, board members serve in an advisory capacity and provide counsel and advice to the president.

Masumoto, a Yonsei (fourth-generation Japanese American), works with her father David Mas Masumoto on the Masumoto Family Farm in Del Rey, an 80-acre organic farm that grows peaches, nectarines, apricots and grapes for raisins.

Masumoto developed and performed a one-woman show called “What We Could Carry,” which showcases the experiences of Japanese Americans before, during and after the internment of World War II. In 2016, she performed an excerpt from the show at the White House.

She has co-authored two books — “The Perfect Peach” and “Changing Season.” Along with Fresno State faculty member and poet Brynn Saito, Masumoto co-founded the Yonsei Memory Project, which uses arts-based inquiry to generate dialogue connecting the WWII incarceration of the Japanese American community with current civil liberties struggles.

For more information about the Foundation Board of Governors, contact Kris Westcott at For more information about the University Advisory Board, contact Diana Ralls at