by Jazzminn Morecraft
On Wednesday, Sept. 23, Dr. Joseph I. Castro was announced as the chancellor-elect at the beginning of the CSU Board of Trustees live meeting.
Back in March, The CI View informed students that current CSU Chancellor Timothy White would be retiring during the summer of 2020. However, due to the pandemic and the uncertainty of the situation, this plan was put on hold.
Six months later, the eighth CSU chancellor has been announced. Castro will not only be the first California native to take the position, but he will also be the first Mexican American to be chancellor. Currently, Castro is serving as the eighth president of CSU, Fresno but will be taking over as chancellor in January 2021.
“It’s an amazing leadership opportunity,” said Castro during the live stream conversation hosted by the CSU on Friday, Sept. 25. “A chance to make a positive difference for very talented students and to support our faculty and staff and our alumni who love the CSU and want to support the CSU. So, it’s really for all those reasons that I’m so excited to be part of the CSU in this way.”
Even though Castro has only been chancellor-elect for a week now, he has already started building relationships with individuals like Gov. Gavin Newsom, as well as other state legislators. Additionally, he has started to meet with faculty and student leaders across the CSU campus.
During the live stream, Castro addressed many topics. Here are some highlights from that conversation.
“I want the students out there to know that I empathize with their situation,” Castro stated quickly into the conversation regarding the pandemic and the virtual nature that we find ourselves in. “I’m hopeful that the situation will improve from a health perspective so we can start to bring students, faculty and staff back in the summer and in the fall … I promise we’ll continue to stay in touch with health experts so that we’re making wise decisions across the system at each campus.”
Castro also talked about the Graduation Initiative 2025 that the CSU has. The Graduation Initiative 2025, according to the CSU website, was created to “…ensure that all students have the opportunity to be successful and graduate according to their personal goals, positively impacting their future and producing additional graduates to power California and the nation.”
“I’m firmly committed to the GI-2021 goals,” Castro stated. “I know all the presidents and the campus communities are behind these as well. So, we’re going to stay focused on that. And while that may be more challenging because of COVID, I think we need to stay focused. It’s just so vitally important.”
Diversity of faculty across the CSU system was also addressed. ““I think it’s important for women and men of all different backgrounds to be able to relate to their professor or their advisor in a way that is authentic,” explained Castro. “It’s extraordinarily important in my opinion that our faculty become more diverse in a way where our faculty really understand our students’ lived experiences because they walked similar paths and they’re able to inspire the very best in our talented students because that student says, ‘oh my god that person is a lot like me’.”
Castro went on to further touch on the current climate of our nation. “This is a really special moment in time though, Black Lives Matter and racial injustice exist,” stated Castro. He went on to let individuals know that this is something that he does not plan to ignore. “I think the CSU has an opportunity to lean in even more aggressively in addressing these issues of inequality and I do intend to have that conversation with the presidents in January.”
Another topic that was addressed was Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) students. Castro responded with “I believe we must be aggressive in supporting (our DACA students), no matter what happens in Washington D.C. My hope is that we’ll have an opportunity for a DREAM Act of some kind next year and that would be a wonderful next step. But until that happens, we need to be as thoughtful and creative as we can in supporting our DACA students.”
One of the last things that Castro addressed was some long-term goals that he currently has coming into the position. The top three things he is hoping to achieve in the long run are the Graduation Initiative 2025, securing a “stable funding base” and being “innovative in some exciting ways.”
“I just see incredible potential for us in the coming years and it will be difficult in the short-term, certainly,” stated Castro, “but I think that we will persevere through that and we’ll be much stronger after having gone through this experience.”
For more information about the Chancellor-elect Joseph Castro, please read the CSU News release at https://www2.calstate.edu/csu-system/news/Pages/Joseph-I-Castro-Appointed-Eighth-CSU-Chancellor.aspx.
To read more about, Chancellor Timothy White see the article “CSU Chancellor White retiring” from March 2020.