Remarks by Dr. Joseph I. Castro - January 11, 2021

Dr. Joseph I. Castro – January 11, 2021
Chancellor, The California State University
Auxiliary Organizations Association Annual Conference
Remarks (as prepared)
Via Zoom
January 11, 2021

Thank you, President Jackson, for your kind introduction.

Thanks also to Kacie and Monica for the tremendous leadership you've provided AOA, and for your hard work and resourcefulness in organizing this virtual convening. You've put together an impressive agenda. I'm certain this will be an engaging and productive meeting and time well spent for all attendees.

I'm happy for the opportunity to speak with all of you this morning. My time with you today will unfortunately be brief – as I continue to transition into my role as chancellor – but I thought it was important to take just a few minutes to express my deep appreciation for all that you do – year-in and year-out – to support and enrich the California State University learning and discovery experience, and to advance the CSU's mission. And I wanted to recognize and thank you for the resilience, resourcefulness and resolve all of you have demonstrated through this extraordinarily challenging moment in time.

I'm sure most of you know that I come to the Chancellor's Office from Fresno State, where it was my honor to serve as president for the last seven years. But you may not know that it was at Fresno State – then known as Fresno State Normal School – where the CSU's first auxiliary organization was established almost 100 years ago to administer the campus' bookstore, food services and student body activities. Today, Fresno State has six auxiliaries, more than any other CSU campus.

Auxiliaries have a long and proud history at Fresno State – and a bright future. And my seven years working in partnership with these organizations have shown me that they are – that you are – mission critical to our students' success.

But never has the significance of your role – and the importance of the vital partnership that exists between the CSU's 23 campuses and its 87 auxiliary organizations systemwide – been more apparent than over the past 10 months.

With compassion, adaptability and resolve, you've partnered with your campus colleagues to develop creative solutions to continue to provide services to our students and meet their needs despite unprecedented challenges. Those solutions took many different forms:

Bookstores worked with campuses to ensure that students had access to course materials, laptops and other equipment as we pivoted to virtual learning;

Dining services developed safe meal-distribution methods – even hand-delivering meals to quarantined students in many cases;

Food pantries quickly converted to contactless distribution, and safe housing options were made available to housing-insecure students;

You worked with campus risk-management teams to help students continue their research and stay on track to program completion;

Child development centers stayed open with safety modifications;

Rec centers implemented safety measures and quickly developed online health and wellness programs;

Our philanthropic organizations raised funds to supplement federal aid so that all students – including Dreamers and international students – could receive much-needed financial relief, and to help those students impacted by the “digital divide" receive the equipment and technology necessary to maintain their academic progress in a virtual instruction environment;

And across the CSU, auxiliaries did everything they could to maintain or prolong student employment to mitigate – to every extent possible – the pandemic's financial impact on both student and professional employees.

The list goes on. And while these examples are as varied as the many services you provide, they all underscore your unwavering dedication to the CSU and its students. Please accept my deepest gratitude and appreciation for your remarkable efforts, which continue as we endure the current surge, buoyed by the knowledge that – even though many of our auxiliaries have suffered significant financial and operational hardship – there is light at the end of the tunnel.

And as we collectively work toward and, ultimately, through the recovery from this public health crisis and to the CSU's bright future, you can count on my – and the CO's – partnership and support. It is only when our auxiliaries thrive that the CSU can fulfill its greatest potential.

Thank you again for all that you do for the CSU, our students and the state of California. I look forward to working closely with you in the months and years ahead and – fingers crossed – joining you in person at next year's convening at Indian Wells.