Campus: Fresno -- August 20, 2007

Fresno State President Welty’s fall address spotlights opportunity, equality and service

Calling Fresno State a “university of opportunity for everyone,” President John D. Welty today kicked off the 2007-08 academic year by reinforcing the university’s commitment to high achievement and equity in the classroom and beyond.

“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,” Welty told those attending the Faculty Assembly. “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.”

“This is an exciting year for our campus,” he added. “Everywhere you look there are new academic programs and projects being developed, major new building projects under way and a spirit of anticipation and change. There have been many years of hard work by faculty and staff to bring these improvements to our campus.”

Welty commended faculty, staff and students on their thousands of hours of community and volunteer service. And he announced a $3.5 million gift from Jan and Bud Richter of Fresno to help the university promote community service to students, faculty and staff and reach a goal of 1 million hours of service annually by 2011, the university’s centennial. The funds will establish the Jan and Bud Richter Center for Community Engagement and Service Learning.

Work continues on the $105 million Henry Madden Library, which, when completed next year, will be the largest in the California State University system. In the classroom, Fresno State’s educational leadership doctorate becomes the first stand-alone doctoral program in the 23-campus system. A joint doctoral program in criminology, in partnership with the University of California-Davis, also begins this fall. In 2008, a physical therapy joint doctorate with UC-San Francisco will be offered.

Welty also spoke about the university’s partnership with Chevron Energy Solutions (NYSE, CSX) that soon will produce the largest solar parking project of its kind at any four-year university. When the project at Shaw and Woodrow avenues is finished, it will shelter more than 700 vehicles and photovoltaic panels atop the shelters will generate about 20 percent of the university’s electricity demand.

“Our favorite colors at Fresno State are cardinal and blue…but we think green looks pretty good too,” said Welty.

As the state Senate continues to debate the state’s overdue budget, Welty cautioned that any reduction in funds to the California State University system would threaten the university’s ability to offer competitive pay for faculty and staff.

“The Legislature returns to work today. We need them to act to approve a budget so we can implement already negotiated salary increases and support our students,” Welty said. He noted that, “In anticipation of approval of the budget, we have provided temporary allocations to the colleges, schools and our major units.”

Welty also addressed three lawsuits against that university. “Let me say clearly so there is no question: I do not -- and I have not -- tolerated discrimination at Fresno State. I act when any discrimination is found. This 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.”

“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,” Welty said. “We’re not perfect. I’d simply ask you to keep an open mind as we work through these legal issues because sometimes charges are well founded, and sometimes charges are just charges.”

Welty described a new era in Bulldog athletics, highlighted by the hiring of Athletic Director Thomas Boeh in 2005, and a new senior leadership team with more than 100 years of Division I experience. “We are modeling our athletic program after the most highly regarded universities in the country,” he said.

Fresno State’s fall semester classes will begin Monday, Aug. 27, with a projected enrollment of 22,000 – 85 percent of whom will be full-time students. There will be 2,600 first-time freshman – 100 more than the university’s goal. Fresno State also anticipates 1,800 new transfers and 800 new graduate students.

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