Changes Coming To California State System Amid a Number of Controversies

Written by William Hekman

The California State System has been under a number of controversies. The biggest was the resignation of CSU Chancellor Joseph Castro who resigned in February it was discovered he mishandled a sexual harassment case against a colleague at Fresno State. Also among them is a San Jose State Athletic Trainer being charged with sexual assault and the possible return of their recently resigned president. With Castro’s resignation, an interim chancellor has been announced who will try to fix what went wrong.

Jolene Koester will assume the position of interim CSU Chancellor on May 1st. Koester is the former president of Cal State Northridge. Koester is taking over after the resignation of Joseph Castro. Castro resigned in February after it was revealed he mishandled sexual harassment allegations against a colleague, Frank Lamas, at Fresno State where Castro then served as president. Castro allowed the accused colleague to leave the university and even wrote him a letter of recommendation. Koester is only expected to hold the job for 12 months while the board finds a permanent chancellor, as she has indicated that she is not interested in being the full-time chancellor. In an interview with CalMatters Mikhail Zinshteyn, Koester said she is “150% committed” to her interim position but someone else must, “build and grow the system with all of its wonder after me.” 

The Board Trustees have also approved to hire a law firm to investigate the matter at Fresno State. The original investigation has expanded to include more people other than campus officials. The investigation could implicate former Chancellor Timothy White. White approved a settlement deal for Frank Lamas to leave Fresno State. 

At San Jose State, former president Mary Papazian could be returning despite calls for her not to return. Two weeks ago, the FBI charged former athletic director Scott Shaw with sexual assault after it was revealed that he had inappropriately touched a number of female students. The assaults reportedly went on during Shaw’s 15-year tenure at SJSU and he was never disciplined. Papazian resigned after the DOJ issued a report about the university paying almost $5 million in settlements to former female athletes. Papazian was given a deal upon her resignation that allowed her to teach but many find it inappropriate, “It’s like you resign in disgrace, but you haven’t fallen that far. It’s like a pat on the back, a reward for not doing something she was supposed to do” said student Arianne Holodink. 

CSU has already amended its “retreat rights” which allow former employees to leave with some form of guarantee upon their return. The change would only allow those in good standing to use those rights. 

Photo Cred: CBS 5 San Francisco Bay Area