Campus: CSU Fresno -- August 19, 2005

President Sees Greatest Achievements for Fresno State in Near Future

President John D. Welty welcomed the faculty to the 2005 fall semester today (Aug. 17) with optimism that California State University, Fresno can anticipate some of its greatest achievements over the next few years.

Speaking at the fall Academic Assembly, Welty said he believes Fresno State can become "one of the nation's best engaged universities - recognized for our ability to engage a diverse group of students in learning and for the ability to become actively involved in a region and contribute to its transformation."

In recent years the university has evolved from an institution that sought to interact with this region to one that has become fully engaged in our region, Welty said. Looking ahead to Fresno State's Centennial in 2011, Welty suggests the university focus on five themes that highlight its distinctiveness. He said the university is:

  • Helping to create a healthier Valley. Fresno State already produces the majority of the medical and social service professionals in the region and is working to expand the nursing program so that more top students can pursue careers in nursing and other related health care professions. Planning has begun for joint doctoral programs in nursing and physical therapy. Faculty and students are conducting pioneering research to understand and address the special health problems of Central California.

  • Advancing world class agriculture. Noting that a recent study by the Center for Strategic and International Studies points out that food production must be doubled by 2025, Welty said Fresno State is finding the answers as it works to sustain California agriculture and pioneers ways to increase production while protecting the environment. Of note: Fresno State will become home to one of the most innovative food institutes in the country with the creation of the Institute of Food and Nutrition Innovation. The institute will study issues of food safety, packaging and the development of new food products. It will evaluate farm and ranch technology with a view toward improving overall food quality, taste and nutritional value.

  • Transforming the economy of Central California by helping to create new businesses and new jobs. The university is leveraging its nationally recognized expertise to fuel Central California's economy. Entrepreneur Magazine ranks Fresno State's expertise in new business creation and entrepreneurship as the eighth best in the entire United States. For perspective - the Massachusetts Institute of Technology is ranked seventh and other campuses in the Top 10 along with Fresno State are Boston College, the University of Arizona and SMU. Also, the faculty in engineering and business have developed a plan for an advanced manufacturing center which is another key program that must be in place to help in the region's transformation.

  • Treasuring the arts and culture of the New California, as evidenced by the recent successful CSU Summer Arts Program and the university's inspiration for a new generation of writers, artists, musicians and designers. Fresno State treasures the art, music, literature and traditions that embody the genius, spirit and aspirations of the people who call Central California home.

  • Preparing those who are teaching our children. With nearly a century of experience in preparing teachers for the classroom, Fresno State has a curriculum that covers everything from teaching preschool to a doctoral program in educational leadership. The faculty has already helped struggling schools resolve chronic budget problems, deal with violence and promote family involvement. We're engaged in solving key problems faced by Central California students - a lack of educational opportunities, poor reading skills and a high drop-out rate. We're also preparing the educational leaders this region needs through The Central Valley Educational Leadership Institute.

Welty also outlined several changes that have occurred in recent years which are prompting a process to update the university's strategic plan.

One of the changes is that the region will add a new capability as the University of California, Merced opens this fall. This presents new opportunities for collaboration and also will generate some competition for students and private support, he said, adding, "The Bulldogs are ready to take on the Bobcats!"

Another change is Fresno State's intercollegiate athletics program, which has entered the national stage. "Unfortunately," Welty said, "mistakes have been made which have had a negative impact on our university. We must take steps to restore the integrity of the program and become a leader in student athlete academic performance as well as on the field performance."

On the construction front, Welty noted that a "remarkable transformation" continues on the campus with $150 million in new buildings. The new Science II Building and the Downing Planetarium Museum were completed earlier this year and the West Complex/Student Recreation Center will be ready for use early next year. In addition to a fitness and recreation focus, it also will house important community conference and educational facilities including the Lyles Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship and The Leon and Pete Peters Educational Center.

Soon Fresno State will begin a massive $91 million renovation of the Henry Madden Library. The entire front wing of the Madden Library will be demolished and rebuilt into what will be one of the finest and most modern university libraries in California, Welty said. "This expansion will enable us to provide the latest computer technologies, offer easier access to our rare and historical materials, and provide much improved areas for our students and faculty to study, conduct research and meet," he said.

Contact: Shirley Melikian Armbruster, (559) 278-5292 or (559) 593-1815

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