Statement by President John D. Welty
Senator Florez and committee members. Thank you for the opportunity to make a brief comment.
I’ve been President at Fresno State for 16 years. During that time we’ve faced many challenges as we’ve worked with the people of Fresno to build a university with national recognition and distinction. Because of this recognition you hear a lot about Bulldog Pride at Fresno State.
Bulldog Pride comes from the fact that we’ve built Fresno State as the university of opportunity for everyone. In the San Joaquin Valley, Fresno State has been the main path for women and men of all backgrounds to fulfill their dreams of a college education.
Bulldog Pride comes from students who often grow up in difficult circumstances and go on to achieve great things at the university and in the world. We’ve worked hard to make the university a place known for its great diversity, fairness, and understanding.
I’ve invested many years of my life in building this university of opportunity. No one feels the pain of these lawsuits and charges more than I do.
So let me say clearly, I do not and I have not tolerated discrimination at Fresno State. I act when any discrimination is found. This commitment is core to who I am as a university president. It’s core to who I am as a person. It is also core to the strong women and men on my leadership team who partner with me in guiding this great institution.
Still, I am aware that these legal issues would seem to indicate otherwise. Because of the litigation I won’t be able to be as specific on these charges as I’d like, but I can tell you that where there were problems we’ve addressed them.
With regard to gender equity, the University has made dramatic progress as demonstrated by the Women Sports Foundation June 2007 grade of “A” for Fresno State’s participation rates for women athletes. 58% of our student athletes are women. Several of our women’s programs are consistently among the top twenty five teams in the nation. We have the third highest paid Division 1 softball coach. I could go on to highlight many other extraordinary accomplishments of our women’s programs.
During the past two years we’ve created a new era in Bulldog athletics--we have a new, highly experienced Director of Athletics, a new senior leadership team is in place and we have been changing policies and the culture of our program to reinforce our fundamental values as the university of opportunity for everyone.
With more than 25,000 people in our university community, Fresno State is the size of many small towns, so we’re going to reflect the same challenges that any small town might. We’re not perfect.
I’d simply ask people to keep an open mind because sometimes charges are well founded, and sometimes charges are just charges.
These lawsuits may indicate some past problems in athletics at Fresno State, but they do not reflect today’s new era in Bulldog athletics. Nor do they reflect our reality at Fresno State as the university of opportunity for everyone.Thank you.
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