This year’s State of the University for Fresno State will be noteworthy for a couple of reasons, primarily because it’s the latest event in what I’m calling the “Joseph Castro Farewell Tour.”
Castro is wrapping up his tenure as the university’s eighth president this month and will start his new job as the California State University’s eighth chancellor on Jan. 4.
So it seems appropriate that Tuesday’s State of the University will highlight Castro’s accomplishments while at the helm of Fresno State.
In normal years, the State of the University event would be held in the Save Mart Center, with Castro and others addressing invited guests seated at linen-covered tables spread across the wide floor that is ground zero for basketball games, concerts, and the Monster Jam.
But normal has fallen by the wayside in 2020, so Tuesday’s State of the University will be a COVID-safe version that will be broadcast on KSEE24. Tune in at 7 p.m.
As in the past, the State of the University is also a fundraising event. This year’s proceeds will help establish The Castro and Borges Family Basic Needs Endowment Fund, which will benefit student programs such as the Student Cupboard, Clothing Closet, and Project Hope.
This year the State of the University will recognize Dr. @JosephICastro’s contributions to Fresno State and celebrate the University’s bright future!
— Fresno State (@Fresno_State) December 7, 2020
They’ll Need A Bigger Moving Van
In addition to losing Castro and his wife Mary to Long Beach, Fresno State will be saying farewell to two top-ranking administrators who will join him at the CSU headquarters.
Castro worked with Larry Salinas, Fresno State’s executive director of governmental relations, and Patti Waid, director of communications, at UC Merced before all three came to Fresno.
Waid will be the CSU’s assistant vice president for strategic communications and public affairs, and Salinas will be senior adviser to the chancellor, Fresno State spokeswoman Lisa Boyles said Monday.
Boys and Girls Clubs Become Learning Hubs
The Boys and Girls Clubs in West Fresno, Mendota, and Del Rey are now operating as learning hubs where elementary students can have a supervised place to do distance learning.
The hubs, which have been in the planning stages for months, opened last week for about 60 kids, said Kathryn Weakland, vice president of the Boys and Girls Clubs of Fresno/Madera Counties.
Students are divided into small groups of about 11 to 12, with one or two adults to supervise. They have no contact with the other student groups so as to limit any potential spread of the coronavirus, Weakland said. The centers have been configured with temperature checks at the door and plastic sneeze guards to separate students at their desks.
Students will use their laptops and headphones to link up with their school teachers and classes at their home schools. Most at the West Fresno center are Fresno Unified students, and some are from Central Unified schools, she said.
Planning is continuing on creating learning hubs at the other nine clubs, including the Zimmerman Club in downtown Fresno, Weakland said.
The biggest challenge is staffing, since the clubs historically are designed for after-school activities and many staffers already had work or school commitments for earlier in the day, she said.
No Learning Hub Yet for Selma Club
The idea to create learning hubs in area Boys and Girls Clubs was sparked by a query from the Selma Unified superintendent who was looking for safe learning spaces for students while schools were closed because of the pandemic. The Selma club is one of the nine Fresno-area Boys and Girls Clubs still working toward being able to open as learning hubs.
The timing of the clubs’ opening as hubs is a little unfortunate, given that Fresno County and most other counties in California are in the purple tier in the state’s COVID-19 reopening framework as infection rates skyrocket. But club staffers have undergone intensive and lengthy safety training to keep themselves and the students safe, Weakland said.
“We want to keep moving forward to support our kids,” she said.