University Wants to Add Nelson Mandela statue to Peace Garden

Fresno State President Joseph Castro announced a multi-million dollar campus face-lift during his annual address to faculty and administrators at the Save Mart Center Thursday (Aug. 17, 2017).

But he was mindful of issues that are dividing Americans today, too.

“Today, I am pleased to announce that we will invest $26 million more in new funding in this next academic year to support infrastructure projects that are essential to the well-being of our university,” the fifth-year president said.

Those projects include renovations to the North and South gyms as well as upgrading classrooms. Also on Castro’s to-do-list is a fundraising effort to add a statue of anti-apartheid leader and former South African President Nelson Mandela to Fresno State’s Peace Garden.

Castro addressed free speech, with the recent deadly events of Charlottesville, Va., on his mind.

“Universities are places where a wide range of ideas and perspectives can be discussed and debated.  I believe Fresno State has an opportunity to model for our Central Valley and beyond how freedom of speech – in a civil and respectful way – leads to a stronger teaching and learning environment,” Castro said.

“As a thoughtful member of our campus community, I urge you to be boldly open-minded and to take the time to listen to and respect the perspective of others while sharing your own perspective.  This is especially important on occasions when you might disagree with someone else’s point of view.”

Later at a news conference, Castro said that the clash of protesters in Charlottesville “could possibly happen at any college or university around the country.”

Added Castro: “The most important thing for us at Fresno State is to model what effective leadership is, so that people understand if they have a different point of view they can exchange that view here on the university campus and not turn to ways that are potentially harmful to other people.”

The Lars Maischak Situation

Earlier this week, Fresno State lecturer Dr. Lars Maischak broke his silence about his apparent demotion in light of controversial tweets he made earlier this year about President Donald Trump. He has been on paid leave since April and will not return to the class room this semester.

“Fresno State not only threw me under the bus, they helped build that bus,” Maischak told GV Wire. Asked to react to Maischak’s remarks, Castro had a measured response.

“This is a personnel matter and I can’t say a lot. What I can say is that we have followed our policies and our collective bargaining agreement in our work with Dr. Maischak,” Castro said at a post-speech news conference. “We have looked at the entire picture, which includes his situation. We have decided the best way forward for this next semester is for him to contribute toward the development of online courses, which is very important.”

Castro concluded with this message:

“So, the stakes are high.  Our faculty and staff are inspired by our mission.  Our students are hard-working and full of potential.  And our alumni and friends are more engaged and supportive than ever before!

“These are the essential ingredients needed to boldly advance Fresno State to new heights of distinction well beyond the imaginations of our founders over a hundred years ago.”

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