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President Celebrates Alumni, Calls for Partnership in Fall Address

Joseph F. SheleyThe quality of CSU Stanislaus alumni and their vital role in the San Joaquin Valley was a major theme of President Joseph F. Sheley's fall address, which he gave on Aug. 29 in front of a packed crowd at Snider Recital Hall.

Sheley said he's toured the Valley extensively during his first few months on the job, meeting elected officials and community and business leaders — many of them alumni themselves and many of which attended the fall address. He said the business owners he's met have sung the praises of the CSU Stanislaus graduates they've hired.

Now, Sheley said, “We must transform gratitude for a great education into active alumni pride and advocacy, whether the alum graduated 50 years ago or one year ago. Our alumni are our success story.”

Audience members included notable alumni including John Lazar, mayor of Turlock; Sharon Silva, CEO of the Turlock Chamber of Commerce; Virginia Madueño, mayor of Riverbank; John Jacinto, president and CEO of VisTech; Maria Silveira, vice president of labor relations for Foster Farms; and Brett Tate, owner of Dust Bowl Brewery.

In addition to their expertise in their chosen field of study, Sheley said, CSU Stanislaus students leave college ready to hit the ground running, with an education grounded in the liberal arts and with skills like writing, thinking and communicating that help them transition quickly into the business world.

"Employers get it," Sheley said. "It's less about specifics learned than about capacity developed."

But even beyond the quality of the university's graduates, Sheley said, there is a growing need for the university to work with local governments and businesses. When the economy turns around — and universities can return to actively pursuing new students and competing for state funding — a strong relationship with the surrounding region will build the kind of collective pride and advocacy that will benefit the entire Valley.

"We are not an island," Sheley said. "We are part of an important region, and we truly want to partner in moving this region forward."

"If we do this, the region's leaders and citizens become our active, aggressive advocates. They celebrate our successes publicly. And they pick up the phone and personally let those who decide our fate know why we matter. No more hidden gem."

Updated: 10/08/2012
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