Former Fresno State President, Joseph I. Castro Resigns as CSU Chancellor

Patrick Record

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Ambria King, News Editor

CSU Bakersfield held an open forum via Zoom with President Zelezny on Feb. 22 in which Zelezny responded to questions regarding the recent resignation of former CSU Chancellor, Joseph I. Castro. 

Castro resigned on Feb. 17 after serving a thirteen-month term as CSU chancellor, when allegations of mishandling of sexual harassment claims against former Fresno State administrator, Frank Lamas, were made public. 

Zelezny worked under Castro as provost and vice president of academic affairs from 2014 until becoming president of CSUB in 2018. Despite being employed at Fresno State during the time period that the first unofficial complaint was filed against Lamas by a fellow employee in 2014, and at the time an official review commissioned by the university found concerns regarding abusive or unprofessional behavior in student affairs against Lamas in 2016, Zelezny states she was not familiar with the issues taking place at the time. 

“…I was in charge of academic affairs. I was not aware of those complaints because they were personnel complaints that were happening in another division – the division of student affairs. I was not part of any of the investigations that happened at Fresno State, and I also was not at Fresno State at the time of the official complaint… Those were personnel matters in another division and not the one that I was in charge of.” 

The official complaint that Zelezny referenced was a Title IX complaint brought against Lamas in October of 2019, which resulted in findings of misconduct on Lamas’ part. Mediation settlements took place between Lamas and Fresno State that ultimately resulted in Lamas leaving the university with a $260,000 retirement package and letter of recommendation signed by Castro.  

Castro has stated in interviews with the LA Times that the conditions of the mediation did not allow for him to state the reasons for Lamas’ departure, and that he was encouraged to write the letter under counsel of then Chancellor, Timothy P. White, in order to prevent further litigation. 

It is this settlement and letter of recommendation that ultimately led to allegations of mishandling. 

Castro stated in his resignation, “I have been honored to serve the California State University for more than eight years, including as its eighth chancellor, and the decision to resign is the most difficult of my professional life,”  

“While I disagree with many aspects of recent media reports and the ensuing commentary, it has become clear to me that resigning at this time is necessary so that the CSU can maintain its focus squarely on its educational mission and the impactful work yet to be done.” 

Vice Chancellor and Financial Officer, Steve Relyea, will be temporarily acting as chancellor in Castro’s place until the Board of Trustees is able to find a replacement.