Fresno State President Saúl Jiménez-Sandoval announced on Dec. 3 the consolidation of Fresno State’s water research, education and external collaboration efforts under a single, restructured California Water Institute. Fresno State has been a leader in water research and community engagement for several decades. 

This consolidation will provide external stakeholders with more convenient access to Fresno State’s extensive water research and development programs and services. The consolidated institute will continue to position Fresno State as a leader in water research and sustainability by engaging faculty, students, staff and researchers from disciplines across the University to address some of the most challenging water issues of our time. 

In addition to agriculture, engineering, technology, science, economic and policy research and education, the California Water Institute will focus on sustainable water resource management solutions through outreach and entrepreneurship. 

The California Water Institute will have three divisions: the Center for Irrigation Technology; the Research and Education Division; and the Water, Energy and Technology Center. Dr. Charles Hillyer, director of the Center for Irrigation Technology since September 2019, will serve as interim associate vice president for the institute.  

A board that includes the provost and deans of the Jordan College of Agricultural Sciences and Technology and Lyles College of Engineering will provide operational oversight. In the next few weeks, Jiménez-Sandoval will invite several key community water leaders to be part of the external advisory board for the California Water Institute.

The California Water Institute will facilitate and strengthen partnerships with government, community leaders, industry, community-based organizations and academic institutions, among others. For the campus community, the institute will:

  • Focus on student education and professional development for water-based careers.
  • Foster interdisciplinary research and scholarship; and partner with other academic institutions and organizations to bolster competitiveness for funding.

Seventeen faculty members from seven of Fresno State’s eight schools and colleges are affiliated with the California Water Institute as faculty fellows.

The leadership team includes: 

  • Dr. Kaomine Vang, interim director of the Center for Irrigation Technology.
  • Agriculture professor Dr. Florence Cassel, assistant director of the Center.
  • Biology professor Dr. Steve Blumenshine, director of the Research and Education Division.
  • Laura Ramos, associate director of the Research and Education Division.
  • Helle Petersen, director of the Water, Energy and Technology Center.