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Fresno State President Joseph I. Castro First California Native, Mexican American To Lead CSU As Chancellor

LONG BEACH (CBSLA) — Joseph I. Castro, president of Fresno State, will be the first California native and Mexican American to lead the 23-campus California State University system.

Castro was appointed by the CSU Board of Trustees Wednesday to succeed Timothy P. White, who is retiring. White had announced last October he planned to step down in July 2020, but the coronavirus pandemic delayed those plans and the search for a new chancellor.

(credit: Cal State University)

CSU officials say Castro, who has been president of Cal State Fresno since 2013, has helped the university become a national leader in recruiting, supporting and graduating students from diverse backgrounds. Fresno State is regularly ranked among the top public colleges in publications such as U.S. News and World Report and Money Magazine, according to CSU.

"Dr. Castro is a passionate and effective advocate for his students, his campus and the CSU – in his local community, in Sacramento and in Washington D.C.," Lillian Kimbell, chair of the CSU Board of Trustees said in a statement. "Above all, he is a leader who inspires greatness in students, faculty and in the broader community."

Castro was born in California's San Joaquin Valley and is the grandson of immigrants from Mexico, the son of a single mother and the first in his family to graduate from a university, according to CSU. He earned his bachelor's degree in political science and a master's degree in public policy from UC Berkeley. He earned his Ph.D. in higher education policy and leadership from Stanford University.

Gov. Gavin Newsom said he was looking forward to working with Castro.

"I know he has the experience, wisdom and respect of many that he will need to build on Chancellor White's progress on graduation, retention and diversity and inclusion. Chancellor Castro also knows firsthand how higher education transforms lives and opens doors," Newsom said in a statement.

Before joining Fresno State, Castro held a variety of positions in the University of California system, including vice chancellor of student academic affairs and as a professor of family and community medicine at UC San Francisco.

"The Cal State University provides unprecedented and transformational opportunities for students from all backgrounds to earn a high-quality college degree and to better their families, their communities and the industries in which they become leaders," Castro said in a statement. "There is no other institution that makes this great of an impact on the entire state -- the CSU is key to a growing and thriving California."

Castro is scheduled to begin his duties as chancellor on Jan. 4, 2021.

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