FRESNO (KMJ) — Fresno State has been given more than $20 million in donations between 2015 and 2016. It’s an increase of almost a fifth from the previous year.

“An important snapshot of our success is our fund raising among donors who ‘get’ where it is that we want to go…and why we want to go there”, explains President Joseph Castro.

Just after 9am Wednesday morning he stood up in front of faculty and staff to start the new semester with an update on where the college is heading. Staff benefits were one of the first areas covered, and applause was heard throughout the Save Mart Center when a multi-million dollar investment to improve worker’s pay was announced.

“Since 2013 our funding commitment to salaries, wages, and benefits has increased by $26 million”, says President Castro. “That’s our investment in all of you”.

That’s projected to increase by another $11 million in the coming year.

Student interests were covered as well, with the reveal that between 2015 and 2016 more than $222 million in financial aid was awarded. That came alongside the announcement that The Student Cupboard has seen over 45,000 visits since it opened in November 2014 – helping those unable to afford basic necessities – and confirmation that those who identify as LGBTQ are now able to decide for themselves their preferred name used on campus. That news came alongside word that more construction is coming too.

“[We] plan to build by 2020 a new student union and faculty center to accomplish exactly what the word ‘union’ implies. It’s a 24/7 place for students and faculty to engage, exchange, listen to each other, grow, and find common ground upon which to unite”.

President Castro concluded with a look into the future with more on what Fresno State would look like by 2020.

“A six-year graduation rate that is at or near 70%, and when we get there that will place us in the upper 10 to 15% of public universities in the entire nation. We’re going to get there”, he shouted over the applause.

“Thank you to everyone working on this, we’re going to get there”.

Fall classes start again Monday August 22nd.

Hear the report from KMJ’s Dominic McAndrew as it aired:

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