Fresno State News

A University on the Rise — and a Ranking to Prove it

by Tom Uribes

Fresno State was selected alongside seven Ivy League institutions, five University of California campuses and Stanford University in a national ranking of the top universities in the United States.

Washington Monthly, a D.C.-based magazine known for its annual rankings of American colleges and universities, announced in August that Fresno State ranked No. 25 on its list of the top 30 national universities.

Stanford topped the list followed by Harvard and MIT. Fresno State is the only campus in the California State University system to be included in the top 30 and the only school in the over 400-member American Association of State Colleges and Universities.

Washington Monthly has been ranking colleges and universities for 11 years with what it calls “a different kind of college ranking” focusing on three pillars: social mobility, research and service.

The University was cited as an “instructive example” of schools that enroll many low-income students and help them graduate. Given the high number of undergraduates that are first-generation students and the fact that the majority have incomes low enough to qualify for a federal Pell Grant, Fresno State “has a higher graduation rate than is typical, given those demographics, and a highly affordable net price,” the magazine reported.

“This national recognition is more evidence of Fresno State’s positive academic and athletic trajectory. We are living our new Strategic Plan’s mission to boldly educate and empower our students for success,” University President Joseph I. Castro says. “Our faculty and staff use their extraordinary gifts to develop the next generation of leaders for the Central Valley and beyond.”

Downtown (Where All the Lights are Bright)

The new Fresno State Downtown Center offers non-credit professional development courses to the public on topics such as career development and entrepreneurial skills, grant writing, digital marketing, business writing, water-wise landscaping, horticulture and software design.

The center is located in the Bitwise South Stadium building, which was constructed in 1914 and is now home to several dozen technology and entrepreneurial companies, a UPS store, a gym, a private theater, a café and the Geekwise Academy that offers basic computer coding classes. For more information, visit

Lookin’ Classy, Visalia

A new Fresno State campus in Visalia will be directed by Dr. Luz Gonzalez, a Fresno State alumna with 30 years of experience in teaching, student success, community and regional engagement and development. The first offerings this fall will be non-credit professional development courses. Future plans will explore degree and certificate programs targeted at working professionals.

The Fresno State Visalia Campus is a newly remodeled 10,000-square-foot, four-classroom building at College of the Sequoias (COS). Located on the southeast side of the COS campus at Shady and Meadow streets, the Fresno

State Visalia Campus will deliver both state-funded and self-supported programs.

Have You Tasted It?

One of the Fresno State Winery’s most popular wines, the 2013 Touriga, won several awards this year including a prestigious silver medal from Sunset magazine’s 2016 International Wine Competition.

“Touriga, commonly known as Touriga Nacional, is considered to be Portugal’s finest red wine varietal and is commonly used to make Port,” said Kevin Smith, Fresno State Winery business and marketing manager and enology lecturer.

“The Fresno State Touriga has smooth tannins, great structure and concentrated dark berry flavors.”

The awards were among 17 honors the Fresno State Winery received this year.

Fresno State houses the nation’s first bonded commercial winery to operate on a university campus.

Fresno State wine is available at the Gibson Farm Market and other retailers or online at

Shrestha Receives President Obama’s Volunteer Service Award

In recognition for his community service, Fresno State plant science professor Dr. Anil Shrestha received President Barack Obama’s Volunteer Service Silver Award, the nation’s premier volunteer award that recognizes Americans making a positive impact.

Shrestha’s service included returning to Nepal to volunteer in his academic specialty for the third consecutive summer. He helped scientists, faculty and students in Nepal develop skills in experimental designs and data analysis.

“I consider myself very fortunate to be able to share my skills, knowledge and experience in a developing part of the world that is fending off a looming crisis of uncertainties in agriculture and food security,” Shrestha says.


From the White House to a Flag Pole Near You

For the 40th anniversary of the U.S. Bicentennial on July 4, Fresno State posted an historic American Revolution Bicentennial (1776-1976) flag during a special ceremony.

The 4-by-6-foot flag, which once flew over the White House among other places of honor, was gifted to the University by alumnus Dr. Elvin C. Bell, a retired U.S. Air Force colonel and Army National Guard brigadier general who is a former Fresno city councilman and mayor pro tem.

The event was held outside the Save Mart Center as Fresno State music education major Ryan Vance performed “Reveille” and the “Star Spangled Banner” on the trumpet. The flag was posted daily until July 11 and is now preserved in the Henry Madden Library and will be displayed on special occasions.

Bell was presented the bicentennial flag in 1978 by the late Carl Albert, who was speaker of the House from 1971 to 1977.

“I’m pleased that this national treasure, this one-of-a-kind bicentennial flag, has finally found a welcome home here at Fresno State where students, faculty, parents and the general public will see it wave proudly over the campus,” Bell says.


Bayer Supports Ag Research

International agricultural leader Bayer established a $200,000 endowment with the Jordan College of Agricultural Sciences and Technology at Fresno State to support entomology research in the University’s new Jordan Agricultural Research Center. Fresno State President Joseph I. Castro announced the gift during a ribbon-cutting ceremony in May at the 30,000-square-foot interdisciplinary research center.

The contribution will be directed toward the research center’s entomology laboratory, which will be named after the company. This space will allow students, faculty and industry partners to study colonies of insect pests and potentially beneficial insects. The lab will also be used to develop critical control and integrated pest management strategies.

“This effort will focus on talent development in order to provide internship and job opportunities for current students, continued research on key pests facing agriculture in the Central Valley and collaboration with students in the agricultural department to address crucial issues in the ag sector,” says Jim Blome, Bayer CropScience LP president and CEO.

The Crop Science division of Bayer creates seeds, crop protection and non-agricultural pest control products to help ensure an ample supply of high-quality food, feed, fiber and renewable raw materials.


Meet the Medalists

Jessica Miguel of Fresno was named the University Graduate Medalist and Lilliana Toste of Lemoore was named the President’s Medalist — the University’s top student honors—at the 105th commencement in May.

Miguel earned a master’s in education (multilingual multicultural education) with a 4.0 GPA. While in college, she worked for Clovis Unified School District with students who have autism.

She is now a graduate research assistant through the Department of Education at UC San Diego, where she will began her Ph.D. program in September. A graduate of Edison High School in Fresno, she hopes to become a professor at a four-year university.

Toste, whose parents are also Fresno State alumni, earned a bachelor’s in communicative disorders and deaf studies (speech-language pathology) with a 4.0 GPA.

She was a President’s Scholar in the Smittcamp Family Honors Program and was named 2016 University Volunteer of the Year by the Richter Center for Community Engagement and Service-Learning.

Toste has volunteered hundreds of hours with Reading and Beyond, Exceptional Parents Unlimited, Saint Agnes Medical Center and Lowell Elementary, traveled to Fiji for a service-learning project to develop a community center and irrigation project and studied abroad in Italy. She returned to campus this fall to begin work on a master’s degree.

“At Commencement, we celebrate the bold accomplishments of thousands of Fresno State graduates, and it’s my privilege to recognize Jessica and Lilliana with our University’s most distinguished honors. They are both hard-working, talented students whose academic records are stellar. They make all of us proud to be part of a university like Fresno State.”


         Joseph I. Castro



Student Documentary Airs on PBS

A documentary titled “Fresno to Fiji,” produced by media, communications and journalism professor Jes Therkelsen and four students (Mike Demmers, Michael Price, Jordan Nicholson and Yvette Mancilla) who traveled to Fiji in 2015, aired on Valley PBS. The film is now available on demand on the PBS website. The film documents an international service-learning trip to Fiji during the University’s winter break. Through the project, 20 students aided development in Fiji and engaged with the community through village events, sports, games and educational opportunities.

Author/Athlete Speaks to Recent Grads

Fresno State alumnus Ramsey Jay Jr., who authored the book “Empowering Dreamers to Become Achievers,” delivered the keynote at Fresno State’s 31st African American Recognition Ceremony that honored about 150 graduates. Jay, a former all-conference track and field athlete at Fresno State, is a Wall Street-trained finance professional with more than a decade of global investment management experience. EBONY Magazine named him as one of “30 Young Leaders Under 30.” Jay was invited to make opening remarks at the White House in February when President Barack Obama hosted an event honoring Ray Charles.

Migliazzo Elected Ag One President

John Migliazzo (2007), an attorney for the Michael J.F. Smith law office, began a one-year term July 1 as the new president of the Ag One Foundation at Fresno State, a development organization for the Jordan College of Agricultural Sciences and Technology. Since 1979, Ag One has raised more than $17 million in endowed funds with about 3,500 students receiving more than $2.5 million in scholarships and grants. Other new Ag One executive officers are Vice President Don Parreira (1980), Treasurer Ken Ramos and Secretary Bill Purewal (1998).

Online Master’s in Education Earns Top Rank

Fresno State’s Master of Arts, Teaching degree was included as one of the “Best Online Programs for Master’s in Education” of 2016, according to a list released by The program ranked 14 out of 25 universities that offer similar programs across the nation. Fresno State was one of three CSU campuses on the list. The program is designed for distance learners who are credentialed teachers, practicing professionally in a classroom setting. The three-semester program, coordinated by Dr. Walter J. Ullrich, focuses on social justice, multiculturalism, critical pedagogy and practitioner research.

University Secures $42M in Grants, Contracts

Fresno State received a record of more than $42 million in grants and contract awards during the 2015-2016 fiscal year. “This milestone is a testament to the hard work of our campus faculty, staff and administration,” said Dr. James Marshall, dean of research and graduate studies at Fresno State. “Their collective commitment to the greater good is reflected in the outcomes of these grants and contracts and contributes directly to enhancing student success and improving the quality of life in our community and beyond.” Marshall said the awards include federally funded research activities that engage faculty and students in addressing needs in biomedicine, agriculture and the environment. The funding also supports projects helping students adjust to college, research addressing water use and drought, as well as training for social workers, teachers, administrators and other leaders serving the San Joaquin Valley.

Dr. @Cilantroman

Juan Felipe Herrera, who is now serving his second of two terms as the United States poet laureate and can be found on Twitter as @cilantroman, was conferred an honorary doctorate degree by Fresno State President Joseph I. Castro in recognition of his poetic influence in shaping cultural ideals and the human spirit. Herrera, who lives in Fresno, taught at Fresno State from 1990 to 2004 and was chairman of the Chicano and Latin American Studies Department. He also delivered the keynote address at the 40th Chicano/Latino Commencement Celebration.