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Fresno State Reports Record Enrollments This Fall Despite Closed Campus



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A record 25,300 students enrolled in Fresno State classes in the fall semester, about 5% more than the fall semester of 2019, even though the campus has been closed because of the coronavirus.

Nancy Price

School Zone

Fresno State is bucking a national trend of lower enrollments at colleges and universities sparked by the necessity for distance learning due to the pandemic.

Fresno State also saw record-setting numbers of freshmen and transfer students enroll in the fall 2020 semester, with nearly 3,700 first-year students (about 11% higher than last year) and nearly 2,800 transfer students (about 38% higher).

The university was able to enroll more students than in the past when it was limited by the amount of state resources allocated. Fresno State has been a so-called “impacted” university since 2015, with more students applying than there are slots available.

Fresno State was able to admit more California State University-eligible students this fall after the CSU extended deadlines and created more flexible admission guidelines.

CSU Enrollments Down

But the university also benefited from an overall decline in admissions throughout the CSU system, Fresno State spokeswoman Lisa Boyles Bell said Monday. With fewer enrollments at other campuses, more funds were freed up to accommodate bigger Fresno State enrollments, she said.

In recognition that some college students would be living at home with family in the Valley because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Fresno State in May launched a “Welcome Home Initiative” that provided a streamlined admissions process for Valley students who attend a four-year college or university outside the region.

About 40 students who were previously enrolled at another CSU or a University of California campus signed up for the Fresno State initiative.

What’s in A Name?

Two women with a connection to the Early Learning Center at Fresno and A streets are among the four people nominated to have the center named after them.

Fresno Unified School District received 160 suggestions nominating 34 people. Four received three or more nominations. They are:

  • LaVera Etheridge-Williams, who in 1968 became the first African American woman to own and open a childcare center in west Fresno. LaVera’s Educational Center was the first childcare center in a chain of family owned and operated centers throughout Fresno. The district purchased her center on A Street for the Early Learning Center.
  • Francine and Murray Farber are big supporters of Fresno Unified who provided a $1 million endowment in 2012 and launched Steve’s Scholars, a college scholarship program for Tehipite Middle School students. Francine Farber is a retired school administrator and past president of the League of Women Voters.
  • Jewell Medicine Horse Williams was an activist for Native American issues and lobbyist for Native American healthcare who died at age 82 in 2016. Williams volunteered time for causes supporting underprivileged people in the Fresno area and became involved with Sequoia Community Health Foundation, which would later become Clinica Sierra Vista. She was instrumental in bringing the organized powwow to Fresno State more than 25 years ago.
  • Laura Mitchell, who works for the district’s Early Learning Department, was instrumental in opening the center at Fresno and A streets. After earning a degree in child development, Mitchell worked as a teacher’s assistant in the district’s Child Development Centers, which she now leads as an Early Learning manager.

The School Board will consider the nominations at the Oct. 21 meeting.

Nancy Price is a multimedia journalist for GV Wire. A longtime reporter and editor who has worked for newspapers in California, Florida, Alaska, Illinois and Kansas, Nancy joined GV Wire in July 2019. She previously worked as an assistant metro editor for 13 years at The Fresno Bee. Nancy earned her bachelor's and master's degrees in journalism at Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism. Her hobbies include singing with the Fresno Master Chorale and volunteering with Fresno Filmworks. You can reach Nancy at 559-492-4087 or Send an Email