Fresno State vice president announces abrupt retirement at critical time for university

CRAIG KOHLRUSS/Fresno Bee Staff Photo

Fresno State announced the resignation of vice president for advancement Paula Castadio on Wednesday, the timing both curious and critical for a university facing financial challenges on several fronts and in need of major fundraising initiatives, including in athletics.

The resignation is effective immediately.

President Saúl Jiménez-Sandoval informed the university community in an email: “As vice president for University Advancement, only the second in the history of Fresno State, Paula has prioritized elevating the performance of each of the division’s departments during the past eight-plus years. Since joining the university in 2014, her goal has been to increase a campus and community culture of philanthropy, especially among our alumni.

“I am truly grateful for everything University Advancement has accomplished during her time. Fresno State ranks among the top fundraising campuses in the 23-campus CSU system. Paula would be the first to say that it was a team effort. The division’s tireless energy and creativity serves as a bridge to our alumni, campus and community and although Paula is retiring, I know our common community-focused commitment will continue to nurture the region.”

Castadio also sent an email to the university advancement staff: “After much discussion with the President, I have made the decision to retire from Fresno State and today, Wednesday, Feb. 8, is my last day.

“The past eight and half years as vice president of University Advancement have been some of the most rewarding years of my career. I am so proud of all that we have accomplished together. We built a strong fundraising foundation, significantly grew major giving, created unique engagement experiences for our alumni and community, and elevated the University brand through storytelling, advertising, trademark licensing and meaningful information. We are now consistently raising $28 million each year – evidence that systems are in place taking Fresno State philanthropy to the next level.

“Most importantly, we did this together. I will miss each and every one of you. You are a talented, creative and hard working group of professionals who demonstrate that success was made possible through collaborating generously. As you keep this approach at the heart of all you do, I can leave knowing that Fresno State and University Advancement will continue to shine.

“It has been an honor to serve my alma mater, lead University Advancement and to happily strengthen a campus and community culture of philanthropy for Fresno State with you.”

The university will conduct a nationwide search for a successor, with an interim vice president to be selected.

Fresno State was hopeful Measure E would generate needed revenues to address academic programs and infrastructure issues on both sides of Cedar Avenue, but that Fresno County tax failed to receive a required 50% plus one vote to pass in the November election.

It would have generated an annual average of $36 million, with two-thirds going toward the university’s nursing, agriculture, criminology, and engineering/STEM programs providing scholarships for local and low-income students and funding to repair and upgrade campus infrastructure. One-third of the funds would have gone to athletics, as it attempts to upgrade an aging Valley Children’s Stadium.

Jiménez-Sandoval has said there are $500 million in deferred maintenance projects on campus waiting to be addressed and is focused on a second iteration of a tax measure as well as other revenue generators, including an increase in student fees and greater donor support. The university president will also continue pushing California State University officials to address aging buildings on campus.

“There isn’t one silver bullet,” Jiménez-Sandoval said in an interview with The Bee in December. “We have to come up with a collective of solutions, a multi-pronged approach that will reflect the solution to a very complex problem and that deals with enhanced funding from the Legislature, enhanced funding from the CSU, exploring the possibility of fees. How do we do fees? If we have fees that directly address certain services, does that then free up other monies to address other issues? And then we also need to bring in our invested supporters and partners in the community who directly benefit from Fresno State as well. We are all in this together.”