The investiture ceremony for Fresno State’s ninth President, Saúl Jiménez-Sandoval, wove together iconic threads representing the Valley’s history and elements of his personal and professional trajectory during his time in this fertile land. And throughout, Jiménez-Sandoval emphasized that “every thread matters” when it comes to advancing student success, promoting the University and solving tough challenges.
Hundreds gathered in the Save Mart Center for the formal ceremony that confers upon the President the authority and symbols of the highest University office.
Interim California State University Chancellor “Dr. [Jolene] Koester first introduced me to the concept of the presidency as a tapestry,” Jiménez-Sandoval said in his speech. “The presidency does not rest on the shoulders of one person, but on the strength of a set of interwoven and interconnected individuals, artfully coming together to form the leadership of the University. Over the past year and a half, it has become abundantly clear that each individual thread of this tapestry matters – each one brings with it its unique hue, without which the image would not be complete. Everyone sitting in this room, whether you are faculty, staff, students, alumni, supporters or community leaders, your insights are integral to shaping and implementing our vision.”
It is CSU policy to hold the investiture during the new president’s first year in office or at the conclusion of the first year. The CSU Board of Trustees appointed Jiménez-Sandoval as the ninth Fresno State president on May 19, 2021.
The Fresno State Chamber Singers premiered a musical version of a new poem by U.S. Poet Laureate emeritus Juan Felipe Herrera — titled “Flourishing Valley.” The poem, which was written for the investiture, was set to music by Micah Byers.
“O flourishing, flourishing Valley
today we celebrate, today we welcome each one
today we begin again with new generations
today we cast our voices of community
into each casita, each classroom under the sun
Today we greet our new University president
Today we meet our new growing families
Today we weave the present into many futures”
Dr. Lynnette Zelezny, president of CSU Bakersfield and former Fresno State provost from 2014 to 2018, delivered the keynote address.
“As a longtime friend, it is my true honor to offer my sincere congratulations to our dear colleague, Fresno State President, Saúl Jiménez-Sandoval. Collectively we want you to embrace our respect and admiration for your brilliant mind, caring heart and visionary leadership,” ” Zelezny said to Jiménez-Sandoval.
Koester presented Jiménez-Sandoval with his unique presidential medallion. The medallion is worn with academic regalia on official occasions and is kept in a special display case in the Office of the President at Fresno State.
“President Jiménez-Sandoval’s deep and longstanding connection to Fresno State and the Central Valley community it serves is surpassed only by his unwavering commitment to the University’s talented, diverse and driven students,” Koester said. “He has a clear vision for the University, a keen and creative intellect, and a compassionate heart. I have every confidence that under President Jiménez-Sandoval’s principled leadership, Fresno State will reach even greater heights of success.”
At the president’s request, art students José López Rodriguez and Tarynn Abrahamson-Tvo designed parts of the medallion, which represents the Valley, the hard work that sustains its people and the innovative energy by which it is shaped and transformed. Elements include two pieces designed by López Rodríguez, along with a peach blossom, grapes, hands that work the soil and a tomato flower. The largest part is the University seal, which anchors the medallion.
The investiture began with a joyous formal procession into the Save Mart Center. All Fresno State faculty and staff were invited to be part of the procession, wearing their academic regalia or University colors.
In his invitation to the campus community, Jiménez-Sandoval said, “As a locally-grown president, I fully understand that you have all contributed directly to the energy and vision of my presidency, and I thank you sincerely for all your support.”
Fresno State student and former Association Students, Inc. President D’Aungillique Jackson served as master of ceremonies. Jiménez-Sandoval’s sons, Leo and Arion Jimesanagnos, performed the National Anthem.
The investiture is an opportunity for leadership from the broader California State University system to come together to honor a new president. The ceremony included presidents from 11 of the 23 CSU campuses and seven members of the CSU Board of Trustees, including board chair Wenda Fong.
“President Jiménez-Sandoval is a visionary leader with a deep love for and understanding of the Central Valley — and of the University that is its crown jewel,” Fong said. “Fresno State and its current and future students will long benefit from his commitment to inclusive academic excellence to modernizing vital areas of the University, to forging consequential community partnerships and to leading with integrity and with heart. President Jiménez-Sandoval is the right leader at the right time for Fresno State, and the Board of Trustees and I are excited to see the positive impact his leadership will have on Fresno State and the community it serves.”
Jiménez-Sandoval came to the Central Valley from Mexico when he was 10 years old, and helped on his family’s farm. His commitment to the region and higher education form part of his mission to promote the region’s economic and cultural ascendancy.
He first joined Fresno State as a faculty member in 2000. Over two decades of service, he has served as a professor of Spanish and Portuguese, coordinator of the Spanish Master of Arts degree, chair of the Department of Modern and Classical Languages and Literatures, interim associate dean of the College of Arts and Humanities, dean of the College of Arts and Humanities, and provost and vice president for academic affairs.
Fresno State Chamber Singers concluded the two-hour investiture by singing the Alma Mater and the song, “If I had a hammer.”
As a memento of the event, each attendee received one of six original signed lithographs designed for the occasion by the following Fresno State art students: Abrahamson-Tvo, Bobby Brown, Aharon Gutierrez, David Hembree and Krystal Shehadey. The artworks reflect various elements of the San Joaquin Valley and its multicultural communities, strength and history.
Afterward, attendees enjoyed a community reception on the north Save Mart Center concourse, featuring student-produced Fresno State ice cream.
The investiture ceremony was recorded and will be made available for viewing at a later date at youtube.com/fresnostate.
- Tarynn Abrahamson-Tvo, a senior majoring in art with an emphasis in printmaking
- Bobby Brown, a graduate art student with an emphasis in printmaking
- Aharon Gutierrez, pursuing a single-subject teaching credential in art
- David Hembree, a graduate art student and a director of development with Fresno State
- Krystal Shehadey, a graduate art student with an emphasis in printmaking
Others in attendance or participating in the ceremony:
- Master of ceremonies D’Aungillique Jackson, student and former ASI president
- California State University interim Chancellor Jolene Koester
- CSU Board of Trustees:
- Diego Arambula
- Diana Aguilar-Cruz
- Chair Wenda Fong
- Lillian Kimbell
- Maria Linares
- Yammilette Rodriguez
- Romey Sabalius
- CSU Presidents:
- Dr. Jeffrey D. Armstrong, California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo
- Dr. Soraya Coley, California State Polytechnic University, Pomona
- U.S. Navy Rear Admiral Thomas Cropper, California State University Maritime Academy
- Dr. Adela de la Torre, San Diego State University
- Dr. Tom Jackson Jr., California State Polytechnic University, Humboldt
- Dr. Ellen Junn, California State University, Stanislaus
- Dr. Lynn Mahoney, San Francisco State University
- Dr. Tomas Morales, California State University, San Bernardino
- Dr. Ellen Neufeldt, California State University San Marcos
- Framroze Virjee, California State University, Fullerton
- Dr. Lynnette Zelezny, California State University, Bakersfield
Additional college presidents:
- Dr. Andre Stephens, Fresno Pacific University
- Dr. Lori Bennett, Clovis Community College
- Dr. Jerry Buckley, Reedley Community College