California State University, Fresno yesterday announced a $1.2 million gift from the James G. Boswell Foundation of Pasadena, Calif., for an endowed faculty chair position in the plant science department of the College of Agricultural Sciences and Technology.
Today, the college announced an additional $1.2 million endowed chair campaign to match the Boswell gift, which would bring the total endowed faculty positions at Fresno State to 12 -- the most endowed positions of any university in the CSU system. Nearly half of Fresno State's endowed faculty are in agriculture.
"I'm a '79 grad of Fresno State's plant science department, a lot of my staff are grads of the department, and J.G. Boswell Company recruits top ag grads from Fresno State," said Mark Grewal, vice president of Boswell's California Ranching and member of the board of directors of the Boswell Foundation. "If we want to continue hiring top candidates, we need to invest in those students' future -- what better place than their education."
Cultivating a farming dynasty since the early '20s in California and Arizona, the J.G. Boswell Company is known throughout the Valley for its cotton production primarily located in Kings and Kern Counties.
J.G. Boswell II became interested in education during World War II, when he rose to the ranks of sergeant and spent many nights teaching his men to read and helped them write letters home.
J.G. II still heads the company today as chairman of the board, after being named successor to the Boswell Company in 1952 by his uncle Col. J.G. Boswell, who died soon after. With hard work and a little luck in the '50s, J.G. II went international and the Boswell Company became the largest cotton producer in the world. Today, J.G. II's son, J.W. Boswell, is president of the company.
"Ag has been this company's roots for more than 75 years," said Grewal. The Boswell Company has diversified its operations over the last few decades, said Grewal. "This company is part of the Valley's history and we are looking forward to the next millennium."
Grewal said the Boswell Foundation board members thought the idea of an endowed chair position would not only attract top faculty nationally to Fresno State, but would also boost the number of faculty in plant science.
"The plant sciences, which deal with such things as soils, irrigation, plant physiology, plant health, and mechanization, are the basis for most of the Valley's agriculture," said Dr. Daniel Bartell, dean of the College of Agricultural Sciences and Technology. "A broad range of expertise is needed to effectively cover these areas and serve both our students and industry."
Bartell said the endowment will not only better prepare our students but provide applied research to a larger segment of the agricultural industry.
Grewal also announced the Boswell Company is donating a John Deere 9950 four-row cotton picker to Fresno State's agricultural operations.
Public Affairs Offices/Campus News