~ By Lisa Maria Boyles, communications specialist for the College of Arts and Humanities; photo above: Commission co-chair Dora Westerlund addresses other members at the first meeting in September.

Earlier this year, Fresno State President Joseph I. Castro announced the formation of a President’s Commission on the Future of Arts and Humanities, during his State of the University address in January. Since then, commission members have been selected and have been meeting since September.

“As the arts and humanities are natural bridges of engagement with our region, it’s inspiring to see devoted community members coming together to craft a vision for the future of the Arts and Humanities,” said Dean Saúl Jimenez-Sandoval. “We are grateful for the continuous support we receive from President Castro, and look forward to the commission’s findings.”

The commission is composed of faculty, administrators and leaders from the community and beyond. Castro charged the group with analyzing the need for a new center for the arts and humanities on campus, with state-of-the-art performance spaces, classrooms and offices. He also asked the commission to “identify areas of opportunity where Fresno State’s arts and humanities programs and facilities can be among the best in the nation.”

Discussions at meetings so far have looked at opportunities in those specific areas, as well as exploring possibilities to enhance exhibition and gallery space to showcase visual arts on campus.

Members will also assess the academic, research and public programs housed in the nine departments and one program within the College of Arts and Humanities, examining the needs and strengths of each area, areas of potential growth, and ways to increase engagement with the greater Fresno community.

Commission members include:

  • Co-chair Dr. Saúl Jiménez-Sandoval, Dean of the College of Arts and Humanities
  • Co-chair Dora Westerlund, CEO at Fresno Area Hispanic Foundation
  • Mary Castro, first lady of President Joseph I. Castro and volunteer at Fresno State
  • Dr. Honora Chapman, Associate Dean of the College of Arts and Humanities
  • Bruce Batti, President of Jeffrey Scott Agency
  • Alex Costa, an Arts and Humanities Advisory Board member and founder and CEO of Mad Duck Craft Brewery
  • Marty Dietz, Managing Principal at Darden Architects
  • Jacqueline Doumanian, an Arts and Humanities Advisory Board member and a yoga/meditation instructor
  • John W. Hyde, Vice Chairman of The Jim Henson Company
  • Dr. Thomas Loewenheim, professor of music at Fresno State and Director of the Symphony Orchestra and Strings and Youth Orchestras of Fresno
  • Caren Myers, Vice President of Fresno Lexus
  • Tim Rios, Senior Vice President of Community Relations with Wells Fargo
  • Richard Whitten Jr., an ophthalmologist with Eye Medical Clinic
  • Stephen Wilson, Executive Director of the Fresno Philharmonic
  • James Woodward, attorney at Baker Manock & Jensen
  • Lisa Woolf, board of directors for San Joaquin Valley Town Hall Lecture Series

The commission will also recommend strategies to strengthen partnerships between Fresno State, government agencies, private foundations, individual philanthropists and industries in support of the campus’ arts and humanities programs.

The commission expects to submit its initial report to President Castro in March 2018.

“When I think about the College of Arts and Humanities and how important it is to the University, to the Valley, to California and the nation and the world, this is the time and the place to take our programs to the next levels,” President Castro said at the commission’s first meeting. “This effort has the full support of my entire cabinet.”

At 16 minutes and 22 seconds in the video below, President discusses future plans for the College of Arts and Humanities.