Leaders at Fresno State, the Central Valley’s largest university, reinforced their ties to Reedley College and the State Center Community College District with a “community conversation” on Oct. 30 at the RC cafeteria.
Joseph Castro, university president, spoke to an audience that included officials from Reedley College, Sanger Unified School District, Kings Canyon Unified School District and surrounding areas. Castro used enrollment statistics to show the connection that area students have to Fresno State.
“The number of Sanger and Reedley students, either directly from high school or through Reedley College, is 1,730 students, which is wonderful,” Castro said. “And the last five years, it’s over 7,000 students. That’s 1,700 out of about 24,000 students.”
Castro said the university is taking another 1,400 transfer students in January, which he said is the largest January transfer class since he took over at Fresno State in 2013.
The Reedley connection is strong in the the university’s specialty colleges. Dennis Nef, dean of the Jordan College of Agricultural Sciences and Technology, said there are currently 114 students from RC enrolled in the Jordan College. “If I look back 10 years, there’s over 500 students that have come from the college,” he said.
The a same goes for the Lyles College of Engineering, according to dean Ramakrishna Nunna.
“There are 71 students from Reedley College. These students really do well, they work local,” he said.
Nunna said starting salaries for graduates began at $65,000, and went as high as $110,000 for graduate students entering the workforce. He drew a laugh when he said “they went from being poor to thinking about how much taxes to pay.”
Castro said that for the first time, Fresno State is opening to community college students from around the state. While he’s happy to see the growing geographical diversity, the main goal is providing higher education opportunities for high school graduates in Fresno County and the San Joaquin Valley. Currently, 90 percent come from the Valley.
“The pathway from community colleges to Fresno State, in my view, has never been stronger,” he said. “We went to Porterville [College] and learned that Fresno State is the number one destination for their students. That’s the same at [College of the Sequoias] and here. I want to thank you for your support. It wouldn’t happen without your support your encouragement.”
Also representing Fresno State at the conversation was Terry Tumey, director of athletics for the university. Tumey, who played football at UCLA, said his bond and affection for Reedley College comes from his longtime connection to Ed Kezirian. The former Tiger great was Tumey’s offensive line coach with the Bruins.
“Believe it or not, even at UCLA Ed was a proud Tiger. Ed talked about Reedley College,” Tumey said. “We still talk about the great work he’s doing here, and it’s a reflection on what as powerful job you’re doing here.
“What we’re trying to do is develop all of these students and affect their lives comprehensively. We do it through athletics, and hope it will have a poignant piece of their life.”
Castro answered a series of questions from attendees, which included Orosi High principal Roberto Vaca, SCCCD trustee John Leal, Reedley College Vice President of instruction Dale Van Dam, former Sanger Unified trustee and current County Board of Education trustee Marcy Masumoto, Sanger City Council member Esmeralda Hurtado and KCUSD trustee/RC tutorial coordinator Jim Mulligan.
Questions ranged from graduate programs, transportation issues, overcrowding affecting enrollment and international studies. Mulligan asked Castro about the university’s “Be Bold” motto, and what the boldest goal on his agenda was. Castro said he’s hoping the university can get the wheels turning on a new performing arts center, much like one being pushed for Reedley College. Castro also touted the new student union center, the first on campus in 50 years and slated to be open by Fall 2021.