Welcome to California State University, Fresno

Aerial shot of campus, photo of students walking, and campus sign

With 100 years of excellence already, California State University, Fresno starts its second century on the cusp of new beginnings and opportunities. Today, Fresno State is leading the way in Central California through innovation and by inspiring our students to think on higher levels and pursue their dreams.

The story of our university is a fascinating one as we look back to its beginnings. With a population in the early 1900s of about 15,000, Fresno was growing as people from throughout the state, the country and the world were coming here to put down roots. Community leaders saw a bright future. But one problem was apparent – a teacher shortage because there was no local institution to train residents to become teachers.

Fresno's leaders began a campaign to convince the state Legislature that a school to train teachers was needed. In April 1911, a state appropriation of $10,000 launched Fresno State Normal School, whose doors opened with 150 students on September 11, 1911.

Fresno State Normal School expanded and grew, progressing from a teaching college to today’s California State University, Fresno, where more than 20,000 students are seeking to expand their knowledge and horizons.

With majors in 64 bachelor’s, 44 master’s and three doctoral subject areas, Fresno State has come a long way from its humble beginning.

Now, as we celebrate Fresno State’s Centennial and move into our second century, we are entering a new era. We are facing challenges that are both frightening in their magnitude, and exciting in the opportunities they present for new thinking and positive change. This is exactly the type of environment in which strong leadership and creativity – hallmarks of our university – are essential elements of success.

Dramatically changing economic trends throughout the world are forcing a complete re-thinking of the future and the ability of the United States to sustain its quality of life. At the same time, public higher education faces increasing competition from the for-profit sector and strong public pressure to control costs. In addition, reductions in the California budget call into question the ability of the state to provide adequate support to assure access to a public higher education for all who are qualified to attend. It is a watershed moment for the future of public higher education and an opportunity for Fresno State to refocus its efforts in Central California.

As these explosive forces buffet higher education, Central California must cope with their impact on the state and national economy while addressing dramatic changes in the region’s population. At the same time, there is significant transformation of the regional economy, which is essential if systemic poverty is to be addressed. The future of this region, which we call the “New California,” is dependent upon increasing the educational level of the population and developing an innovative culture led by social entrepreneurs committed to the stewardship of the region, its resources, and the people who live here.

It is a daunting challenge, and we at Fresno State are committed to helping meet it by working collaboratively toward an alignment of major institutions and citizen leaders who are committed to transformation. We believe Fresno State is the university best-positioned to lead New California into the future.

Our university enjoys six huge strategic advantages:

  • Fresno State has the faculty expertise and community linkages already in place to bring university resources to bear on key regional issues.
  • Fresno State, one of the most diverse major universities in the United States, is integral to the New California.
  • Fresno State does a better job than most of the nation’s major universities of retaining students of many cultural and ethnic backgrounds.
  • Like many universities of our size and scope, Fresno State promotes basic research goals, but we focus especially on studies with direct impact on Central California.
  • Fresno State is located in the San Joaquin Valley's largest city, California’s fifth largest,  in the heart of Central California.
  • Fresno State alumni have gone on to some of the most prominent leadership positions in the world.

Technology will continue to transform how we educate our students as more and more will use Web-based instruction. We will compete vigorously to attract the top scholars and teachers to enhance the quality of our university.

At Fresno State, we strive to be the best. The demands of the 21st century – resulting from the surprising growth and change in Central California – signal the need for Fresno State to continue its never-ending quest for excellence. We have a responsibility to Central California to live up to our growing status as a nationally acclaimed university.

The difference between adequacy and excellence is private support. A quick look around our campus reveals that most new academic initiatives have been funded through the generosity of private donors. Much of Fresno State's growing national recognition and academic renown is fueled by the investment of private donors. The result of that investment has produced incredibly positive outcomes both on the campus and in the development of the New California. Just think about what we are contributing to the region in fields such as business, education, the sciences, winemaking, criminology, literature, communications, agriculture, entertainment, community service and more. We literally add to the list every day.

We have been able to support expanded graduate and doctoral programs, sustain visiting professors from other premiere universities, fund research exploring regional issues, develop the Smittcamp Family Honors College, renovate and expand the Henry Madden Library, explore further how students can make a difference in agriculture and engineering and spark the creation of new businesses in the region. Our initial successes hint at the true potential of the university.

Generous gifts to the university are creating a new Fresno State for a New California, which is building a richer and more dynamic academic experience for both students and faculty.

We welcome you to explore our website at www.fresnostate.edu and discover for yourself what Fresno State has to offer in undergraduate, graduate and doctoral studies. Our homepage has links to information on our campus programs and provides access to all of our major administrative offices, financial aid and many other student services. In addition, we provide an online catalog for your use in making educational plans.

I hope you will consider California State University, Fresno, as you plan for the future!