Remarks by Dr. Jolene Koester - September 9, 2022

President Jiménez-Sandoval Investiture Ceremony, September 9, 2022
Interim Chancellor Jolene Koester
Chancellor's Remarks (as prepared)

Thank you, D'Aungillique, and good afternoon!

It's wonderful to be back on Fresno State's campus. This impressive arena has been the setting for so many Bulldog triumphs, but I venture to say that it has hosted no event more triumphant, or more consequential, than that which brings us all here today: the investiture of Dr. Saúl Jiménez-Sandoval as the ninth president of this extraordinary institution.

I'll share with you that this is my first investiture in my role as the CSU's interim chancellor. Of course, it's been my privilege to have attended the investitures of dozens of remarkable leaders throughout the CSU and beyond, and also my own at California State University, Northridge 22 years ago.

So I know the drill.

In addition to performing the formal vesting – which I will be honored to do in just a moment – it is the role of the chancellor to reflect a bit on why the particular president is the right fit for the role, for the university and for the community it serves.

Have I ever been lobbed a softball today!

It defies the power of one's imagination to envision a leader more perfectly suited to a university presidency than Saúl Jiménez-Sandoval is to the leadership role at Fresno State.

As you all know, the Central Valley is home for Saúl, who grew up about 15 miles down Highway 99, having immigrated with his family from Mexico to Fowler as a young boy.

On his close-knit family's farm, he learned the value of hard work and to never shirk from challenges and adversity, but rather to tackle them immediately and head on with an open and flexible mind. He developed his deep connection to this Valley and to the agricultural industry for which it is famous worldwide. And, above all, he learned to love the people of this place – and the glorious symphony of cultures they represent.

Saúl is too modest to mention this, but upon completion of his doctoral work, he could have accepted an appointment at any one of dozens of universities across the country and around the world. But, of course, Saúl came home.

Devotion to his family remains at his core. Most of you know that his brilliant wife Mariana is a professor here…and sons Ari and Leo are fixtures on campus. His family is as deeply connected to Fresno State today as it was to the fertile Valley farmland when he was a boy.

Of course, that family is a much larger and extended one now, growing to include Fresno State faculty, staff and, most important, the university's 25,000 students.

A tireless worker, Saúl leads with vision, integrity, a nimble intellect and a compassionate heart. He also leads with humor and humility and utterly without pretension. You'll see him zipping around campus on his scooter, stopping to chat with students and colleagues. He's also an inveterate foodie and, more specifically, a Fresno Foodie, known to take a role in menu planning for events hosted by the Office of the President – eager to share the extraordinary foods and flavors of the Valley with campus guests.

Off the menu, Saúl's commitment to place is evident in the vital partnerships he has forged with community leaders – developing innovative internship programs and experiential learning opportunities for students while enhancing academic programming to ensure that Fresno State's graduates continue to meet the region's fast-evolving workforce needs.

And his commitment to people is evident in his unwavering focus on advancing educational equity so that all Fresno State students – current and future – have the equal opportunity to earn the lifelong and life-transforming benefits of a Fresno State degree.

His aptitude and passion for this work are so impressive that I have recently asked Saúl to help lead a systemwide workgroup with the charge of positioning the CSU to be a nationwide leader in Black student recruitment, enrollment, persistence, retention and graduation.

I don't mean to suggest that the path forward for the president and the campus community will be an easy one. Fresno State faces formidable challenges. But I believe those challenges are dwarfed by its wealth of opportunities. And I believe Dr. Saúl Jiménez-Sandoval is the ideal leader to meet those challenges and maximize those opportunities, guiding Fresno State to new heights of success – transforming lives and families and uplifting the Valley community he so loves.

Saúl, welcome home!

Now, to the best part. 

I've spoken of how important family is to Saúl, so I think it is only appropriate to ask Mariana, Ari and Leo to please join me – along with your husband and father – on the podium.

By the authority granted to me by the trustees of the California State University, I hereby invest you, Dr. Saúl Jiménez-Sandoval, with the office of president of California State University, Fresno with all of the honors, privileges and, most important, the authority, responsibilities and accountability pertaining thereto.


Ladies and gentlemen, it is indeed an honor to present to you, President Saúl Jiménez-Sandoval!