Joseph I. Castro, who has been president of Fresno State University for the past seven years, was named Wednesday the next chancellor of the Long Beach-based California State University system.

Castro is the first California native and the first Mexican-American to hold the position. He will take over the office on Jan. 4, replacing retiring Chancellor Timothy White.

“My great-grandparents and grandfather immigrated from Mexico about a hundred years ago to work on the railroad and to work the land of the San Joaquin Valley,” Castro told the CSU Board of Trustees during a virtual meeting in which he was introduced. “And I’ve been so honored for the last seven years to serve here at Fresno State.

“Like the majority of students that we serve at CSU, I was the first in my family to attend and graduate from a university, and that’s a gift that I’ve been paying back ever since,” he said. “I intend to continue paying that gift back over time as chancellor of the CSU. I am committed to working with the entire CSU community, including my brother and sister presidents and vice chancellor colleagues to take our transformational 23-campus system to new heights of success in the coming years.”

White, 71, announced last October that he would be retiring, effective in July 2020. But he delayed those plans in March when the coronavirus pandemic took hold, forcing the system and its roughly 480,000 students into a virtual learning environment that will continue through the spring. He was the chancellor of the Riverside campus of the University of California from 2008 to 2012.

The search process for his replacement was also put on temporary hold.

CSU Board of Trustees Chair Lillian Kimbell introduced Castro, 53, during the board’s virtual meeting Wednesday.

“Dr. Castro is a passionate and effective advocate for his students, his campus and the CSU in his local community, in Sacramento and in Washington, D.C.,” she said. “Above all, he’s a leader who inspires greatness in his students, in his faculty and staff and in the broader community. He’s bold yet measured and collaborative, courageous and a proven innovator, but uncompromising in his core values. In short, he is the right leader for the California State University in our current circumstances and for our future.”

Castro will earn $625,000 a year as chancellor, along with a monthly auto allowance and a nearly $8,000-a-month housing allowance, since the CSU does not have an official residence for the chancellor.

Castro earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees and UC Berkeley and has a doctorate in higher education policy and leadership from Stanford University. He and his wife, Mary, have three children.

White has been CSU chancellor since 2012. He is credited with spearheading efforts to bolster graduation rates, while also seeing state funding for the system increase from $2.3 billion to $3.6 billion during his tenure, with enrollment rising from 436,000 to more than 480,000.

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