Joseph I. Castro named first Mexican-American to lead California State University system


Fresno State president Joseph I. Castro waves to the crowd before a game between Fresno State and BYU during the first half of an NCAA college football game in Fresno, Calif., Saturday, Nov. 4, 2017. (AP Photo/Gary Kazanjian)

FRESNO, Calif. (KSEE/KGPE) — Joseph I. Castro, the current Fresno State president, has been picked to serve as the eighth chancellor of the California State University.

Castro, who has lead Fresno State since 2013, will be the first California native and first Mexican-American to be chosen to lead the 23-campus system, the CSU said. He will succeed outgoing Chancellor Timothy P. White, who is retiring after leading the CSU since 2012.

The new chancellor will begin his tenure on January 4, 2021 while an interim president will be picked to lead Fresno State until a replacement is found.

“The California 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. 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 said. “I am truly grateful for and excited about this unique and wonderful opportunity, and I look forward to working with the talented faculty, staff and presidents of the 23 campuses as well the Board of Trustees and executives and staff at the Chancellor’s Office to further increase achievement for our 482,000 students.”

The CSU said Castro is a respected scholar in the fields of higher education leadership and public policy and has mentored many other university presidents and senior staffers across the country over the course of his career.

“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, DC.,” said Lillian Kimbell, chair of the CSU Board of Trustees. “Above all, he is a leader who inspires greatness in students, faculty and in the broader community. He is the right leader for the California State University in our current circumstance and for our future.”

Gov. Gavin Newsom said he was thrilled to welcome Castro as CSU Chancellor and issued the following statement:

His extraordinary record as a leader in higher education will serve him well as he assumes this role at a pivotal time for students, faculty and staff. 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. A son of the San Joaquin Valley and the first in his family to graduate from a university, Chancellor Castro is also the first-ever California native and Mexican American to helm this remarkable system. I look forward to working closely with Chancellor Castro to help the next generation of diverse Californians achieve their dreams.

California Governor Gavin Newsom

Before leading Fresno State, Castro served for 23 years in different roles at the University of California system, including Vice Chancellor of Student Academic Affairs and Professor of Family and Community Medicine at the University of California, San Francisco.

Castro was born in Hanford and is the grandson of immigrants from Mexico, the CSU said. He is the son of a single mother and the first in his family to graduate from a university.

The new chancellor received his bachelor’s degree in political science and a master’s in public policy from University of California, Berkeley and a Ph.D. in higher education policy and leadership from Stanford University. Castro was recognized with alumni excellence awards from UC Berkeley and Stanford.

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