Fresno State News

By Tom Uribes

Millions of Reasons Fresno State is Good for the Economy

fsn infographic

A study of the economic and fiscal impact of Fresno State on the Central Valley’s economy showed the University is a powerful economic driver, pumping $716.9 million in business sales into the region.

The study, conducted by Dr. Antonio Avalos, chair of the Department of Economics in the Craig School of Business, measured the economic ripple effect of the University and its auxiliaries and employee and student spending — averaged during the 2013-14 and 2014-15 fiscal years — on job creation, sales for local firms, and state and local taxes.

The research found the annual impact of Fresno State’s expenses supported 9,904 jobs and created $282.5 million in labor income for Valley residents. The report also shows a 6.75 percent return on investment from taxpayer funding to the University.

“Fresno State prepares a highly educated and skilled workforce to meet the demands of a rapidly evolving regional and state economy,” says Fresno State President Joseph I. Castro. “The University is an outstanding investment of taxpayer dollars, giving back far more than it receives.”

The study also showed the value of earning a college degree for both alumni and the community at large, finding that an increase of 10 percentage points in undergraduate degree attainment produces an increase of more than $11,000 in the median household income across the state. “Higher education is the key to unlocking economic prosperity for our community,” Castro says.

From the Library of Congress to the Madden Library


Juan Felipe Herrera

Fresno State professor emeritus Juan Felipe Herrera completed an historic and rare two terms as the United States poet laureate April 25 with a music-laden closing ceremony themed “Speak the People/the Spark/el Poema” at the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C.

Participating in the final event for Herrera, the former Chicano studies professor originally from Fowler, were four Fresno State faculty members and 20 students comprising the Fresno State Chamber Singers. Directed by Dr. Cari Earnhart, the chorale performance featured newly commissioned pieces developed by music professors Benjamin Boone and Kenneth Froelich in collaboration with the poet laureate.

The author of 30 books of poetry, novels for young adults and collections for children, Herrera has been one of the most active poets laureate in the history of the position. He worked with Fresno State President Joseph I. Castro to create a West Coast office located in the Henry Madden Library and christened the “Laureate Lab — Visual Wordist Studio.” With a soft opening in August, it is billed as a performance and classroom space that Herrera and student assistants are using to develop small-scale, dynamic programs and classes for the local community, mixing poetry with visual arts, song and movement. Located behind the main lobby counter, the lab will function as a legacy to Herrera’s tenure as poet laureate.


How Sweet It Is


A modern citrus packing line valued at $600,000 was donated to the Fresno State campus by Bee Sweet Citrus, one of the state’s industry leaders. The packing line can inspect, clean, wash, dry, sort, box and seal fruit harvested from the 1,000-acre campus farm. Sections of the equipment can process 10 oranges, mandarins, grapefruit, lemons, nectarines, peaches or pomegranates per second.

“The citrus industry continues to invest in new technologies, advanced automation, innovative research and modern infrastructure to compete in the world market,” says Jim Marderosian, Bee Sweet Citrus founder and president and a 1979 Fresno State graduate.

“Bee Sweet Citrus is proud to invest in Fresno State and the Jordan College of Agricultural Sciences and Technology so their students are prepared to meet the challenges of the modern agricultural industry.”

The equipment, the first of its kind on a college campus, provides students with hands-on instruction for mechanical systems and industrial maintenance as applied to food processing and safety.

The line is composed of equipment from six specialized area equipment manufacturers: Aweta Americas, Decco U.S. Postharvest, Intelligrated, Mid Valley Packing and Supply, Valley Automation Solutions and Valley PackLine Solutions. J.M. Equipment Company also provided forklifts that were used in the delivery and construction process.

Volunteers Take to the Streets

kids day

Fresno State student, faculty and staff volunteers raised about $47,000 on March 7 for Kids Day benefitting Valley Children’s Hospital. Volunteers sold special edition newspapers from 6 a.m.
to 2 p.m. at intersections across the Central Valley.

The majority of the volunteers were students, with more than 80 clubs and organizations represented. Many campus offices also contributed to the success of Kids Day, including enrollment services and University police.

“It is inspiring to see so many Fresno State students get up early to sell special edition newspapers in order to raise money for Valley Children’s Hospital,” says Taylan Bennett, special projects coordinator for the Jan and Bud Richter Center for Community Engagement and Service-Learning at Fresno State. “Their commitment to our community is displayed clearly through this event, and I am in awe of the amount of donations they collected.”

Special recognition on campus went to the Fresno State Army ROTC Bulldog Battalion for raising the highest amount of any campus group at about $6,000.


Introducing the Medalists

Touyee Thao of Fresno was named the University Graduate Medalist and Alexandra Gallo of Hollister was named the President’s Medalist — the University’s top student honors — at the 106th commencement May 20.

Touyee Thao

Touyee Thao

Thao earned his master’s in plant science with a 4.0 GPA. Growing up as one of 10 siblings from an immigrant family, Thao was fascinated by agriculture at an early age. At Fresno State, he researched how to optimize irrigation scheduling to address the challenge of water management in California. His goal is to share his knowledge with Southeast Asian farmers to help them improve soil and water conservation. Thao volunteers an average of 12 hours per week mentoring youth in the Hmong community.

Alexandra Gallo

Alexandra Gallo

Gallo earned her bachelor’s degrees in political science and communication with a 3.81 GPA. The first-generation graduate studied abroad, was elected to student government, engaged in service-learning, was a Maddy intern with Congressman Jim Costa and served with the League of Women Voters. She is a three-time winner of the President’s Volunteer Service Award for completing 200 hours of service each year at organizations like the Every Neighborhood Partnership and the Ronald McDonald House. She will intern with Costa in Washington, D.C., before applying to law school.


Blake Zante Elected New Student Body President

Blake Zante

Blake Zante

Blake Zante, 21, a junior political science major with a minor in general business, was elected Associated Students, Inc. president for 2017-18. Zante, a graduate of Clovis West High School, is a member of the Alpha Sigma Phi fraternity and a student in the Smittcamp Family Honors College. Also elected were 15 senators and three other executive officers. Newly elected officials took office June 1.


Not the Traditional Spring Break

Three groups of Fresno State students engaged in Alternative Spring Break, a five-day community service project with RiverTree Fresno, Stone Soup Fresno and the Discovery Center. The 22 students participating volunteered more than 1,000 hours of service while working from 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. each day.

Sponsored by the University Student Union, the Jan and Bud Richter Center for Community Engagement and Service-Learning and Friends for Civic Engagement, the students served while enhancing their personal and professional development through leadership, team building, communication and networking with other students and community benefit organizations.


Academic All-American

Jacob Vazquez

Jacob Vazquez

Fresno State graduate Jacob Vazquez was named to the CoSIDA Academic All-America Division I Football second-team, becoming the seventh Bulldog football player to earn such an honor. The former offensive lineman, who earned a bachelor’s in agricultural business with a 4.0 GPA, joins Justin Northern and Derek Carr as the third Bulldog football player in five seasons to be named an Academic All-American. Vazquez started seven games for the Bulldogs this past season and 14 in his career.

What’s New on 90.7 KFSR?

There’s a growing offering of new programs on 90.7 KFSR, a nonprofit, listener-supported public radio station housed on the Fresno State campus. Each show can be streamed live or accessed via podcast on


8:30 a.m.: Fresno State Sports Report
Hosted by Jim Bartko, director of athletics, and
Eddie Hughes, Fresno State Magazine editor


10 a.m.: First Lady’s Focus
Hosted by First Lady Mary Castro and
Julie Logan, KFSR station manager

10:30 a.m.: Fresno State Student Spotlight
Hosted by Dr. Frank Lamas, vice president for
student affairs and enrollment management

11 a.m.: Fresno State Service in Action
Hosted by Chris Fiorentino, director of the
Jan and Bud Richter Center for Community
Engagement and Service-Learning

Opera Lives in the Central Valley

operaFresno State Opera Theatre delivered two productions that shone a bright spotlight on the genre. “Opera Lucinda,” a children’s opera featuring Mexican folk melodies with traditional Christmas carols, was the result of a $10,000 grant awarded by the Central Valley Community Foundation to reach rural communities that would benefit from seeing live opera theatre. For “Die Fledermaus,” Fresno State Opera Theatre joined forces with the University’s Symphony Orchestra to perform a full opera production involving more than 75 students.

200 Years of Deaf Education

deaf education

Two hundred years after the first American School for the Deaf opened in Connecticut, Fresno State held a series of events drawing hundreds to the campus. “Our 200th Anniversary of Deaf Education event [was] the largest event on the West coast,” says Dr. Janice Smith-Warshaw, director of the deaf education programs at Fresno State. “The goal is to recognize and show an appreciation for the history of deaf education and to build awareness about this wonderful community of deaf and hard of hearing individuals right here in the Valley. We want participants to see their heritage has a place in history.”