Dean's Update (July 22)

Dean Dennis NefIn the News

It is difficult to believe that the first day of instruction is just four weeks away. I hope you have had an opportunity to get away and recharge this summer (except our colleagues who work on the University Agricultural Laboratory who have spent the summer keeping equipment and machinery functioning; producing crops, livestock and food; and operating the Gibson Farm Market-a special thanks to them). I also realize that a number of our faculty spent a considerable amount of time completely revamping their courses for virtual delivery and some were very involved in research projects.

As the semester begins, we have the following virtual events


Upcoming Events

August 13 9-3 JCAST Administrative Council retreat
August 14 9-12 JCAST Administrative Support team retreat
August 18 9-10:30 JCAST Welcome Back assembly

We anticipate offering fewer than two dozen face to face labs this Fall. Dr Thomas has worked diligently with faculty and department chairs to figure out the best way to achieve learning outcomes through virtual delivery of courses but in some cases it is just not feasible. In those cases, courses have been submitted to the campus and then to the Chancellor's office for review. We hope the COVID-19 situation allows us to teach them the entire semester but faculty are front loading where possible in case the campus has to shut down.

On Monday, President Castro and Chancellor White sent out budget messages. Because some campuses in the system have carried forward funds that can be used to buffer the impacts on personnel this year, the system is not pursuing furloughs for now although, as you read in the Chancellor's note, those may be a part of next year's plan. Our campus will have to reduce personnel costs and all divisions have been asked to review staffing levels. As a college, we are also being asked to carefully consider ways we can further reduce operating expenses (another 5%) and be more efficient. I have asked the JCAST Administrative Council for their input. We will share more when we have definitive answers.

Sherri Freeman, Imelda Dudley, and Susan Pheasant  working with a colleague at Texas A&M Kingsville have received a 4 year $1 million grant to create the Agricultural Career Readiness Skills for the 21st Century (ACRS21) Certificate Pathway. The pathway will unite high schools, community colleges, and universities in the development of soft skills and career readiness training and will improve the quality of food, agriculture, natural resource and human science education while advancing educational equity. It is expected to impact over 35,000 students from 5,000 high school agricultural programs across the United States. More than a dozen California Community Colleges will also participate. Part of the grant will further develop the Digital Agriculture Solutions Hub to connect university students with ag industry partners to facilitate job shadowing, internships, and mentoring. Congratulations to the team!

Dean's Office Staffing Changes
As you may know, Marian Bankston is now working in the Communication Department. Additionally, Mary Olivas has announced her retirement at the end of August after 27 years of service to the university. She has been in the Dean's office for the last 15 years and will certainly be missed. We wish her well in retirement. With those changes, we have adjusted work assignments in the office as follows;

Karey DeBardeleben will be your main contact for inquiries on Foundation and State purchases, travel, etc. She is also taking the lead on ALL expenditure documents. Please send directly to her at There is no need to copy Nate Gapasin - they will coordinate as necessary. Karey will also provide support to the Research, Creative and Scholarly Activities Committee.

Nate Gapasin will take the lead on faculty contracts, scheduling and scholarships and overall College budget management and continue handling RRTs, additional employment/summer salary, and hiring/info packets, in addition, he will support the Budget and Resources Committee.

Linda Lopez-Atkins will continue working with faculty RTP files, PAFs, faculty and staff evaluations, chair elections, student and peer evals, human resources, and will now provide support to the Honors Program and Academic Programs Committee in addition to the Personnel and Faculty Executive committees.
For the Fall 2020 semester the Office of the Dean will be staffed by one staff member from 9:00 a.m. - 12:00 noon Monday-Thursday to ensure continued support to our faculty, staff, and students on campus. The door will be locked but arrangements will be made via phone or e-mail if items needs to be dropped off or picked up in the office and we will follow COVID-19 precautions. We will also schedule Zoom office hours to facilitate one on one interactions as needed.

As previously announced, we are not able to fill the associate dean role this year. Alex Alexandrou, Annette Levi, Randy Perry, and Michael Thomas have agreed to each assume some of the responsibilities associated with the position for which I am very grateful.

Additionally, Shannon Fast and Kristine Lor will be helping with scholarships. I should also note that Shannon will be spending half of her time working with University advancement. The division is listed below

Alex Alexandrou

  • Coordinate international programs and outreach activities
  • Serve as liaison to Technology Services
  • Serve as a liaison to the Wonderful Scholars and Ag Prep programs, high schools, and community colleges
  • ex officio on college committee-Personnel
  • ex officio on college committee-Research and Scholarly Activities (maybe)

Annette Levi

  • Provide leadership for all curricular-related activities, including, but not limited to course offerings, curriculum review and development, articulation agreements, program review, and assessment, and compliance with university policies, procedures, and deadlines
  • GI 2025
  • Serve as the coordinator of the Honors Program
  • Manage add-drop procedures and petitions submitted by students
  • ex officio on college committee-Academic Programs

Randy Perry

  • Direct and supervise Jordan College academic advisors and the Internship and Professional Experiences Coordinator
  • Coordinate activities with the Ag Ambassador leader and team and the Undergraduate Recruitment Counselor to manage enrollments and recommend adjustments to admission requirements
  • Manage student events and awards including Preview Day, Commencement, Dean’s Undergraduate and Graduate Medalists, Outstanding Thesis/Project, standard bearers, etc.
  • ex officio on college committee-Budget and Resources

Michael Thomas

  • ex officio on college committee-Research and Scholarly Activities (maybe)
  • Provide support for the Leadership Program
  • Oversee academic facilities (classrooms, laboratories- except the University Agricultural Laboratory), offices, and instructional equipment
  • Oversee activities and management of the Jordan Agricultural Research Center and the Graduate Laboratory including the research technicians assigned to those spaces
  • Dean
  • As assigned, represent the college at on/off campus functions (note: may occur outside normal business hours)
  • Provide leadership for Jordan College Chairs’ Council
  • Serve as a member of the Provost’s Academic Affairs Leadership Team (AALT)
  • Manage temporary faculty hiring process and contract renewals
  • ex officio on college committee-UAL

Shannon Fast

  • Oversee awarding of scholarships and grants



Dean's Update (July 1)

Dean Dennis NefIn the News

We have seen some changes in the College this week.

Marian Bankston is leaving the Dean's office for new opportunities in the Department of Communications. We express our appreciation to her and wish her the very best.

Belinda Munoz has joined CIT. You will recognize the name as she serves as Chair of the Staff Assembly Executive Committee. Welcome Belinda.

Ariel Diggan who has managed the equine units the last couple of years is stepping away to become a research technician for Katy Tarrant in the poultry unit.  Sara Larson will take over management of the equine units. She has been involved there for a couple of years. Welcome Sara.

And speaking of Katy Tarrant, she brought her new baby Lawson Christopher into the world on June 19 and reports things are going well.

Dean's Office Changes

As you know, we will be facing a very tight budget for the next few years. While the governor has signed the budget, we do not yet know the implications for the CSU, the campus, nor the Jordan College. However, we have been instructed to pare operating expenditures by 10%. We are also having to make other personnel decisions, one of which is not to fill the Associate Dean position.

I have asked Alex Athanasios, Annette Levi, and Randy Perry to help fill in for the coming academic year on an assigned time basis. Additionally, Michael Thomas has agreed to help out as well. I appreciate all four and look forward to working with them. The duties of the associate dean are being divided as follows:

Alex Athanasios

  • Coordinate international programs and outreach activities
  • Serve as liaison to Technology Services
  • Serve as a liaison to the Wonderful Scholars and Ag Prep programs, high schools, and community colleges
  • ex officio on college committee-Personnel

Annette Levi

  • Provide leadership for all curricular-related activities, including, but not limited to course offerings, curriculum review and development, articulation agreements, program review, and assessment, and compliance with university policies, procedures, and deadlines
  • GI 2025
  • Serve as the coordinator of the Honors Program
  • Manage add-drop procedures and petitions submitted by students
  • ex officio on college committee-Academic Program

Randy Perry

  • Direct and supervise Jordan College academic advisors and the Internship and Professional Experiences Coordinator
  • Coordinate activities with the Undergraduate Recruitment Counselor to manage enrollments and recommend adjustments to admission requirements
  • Manage student events and awards including Preview Day, Commencement, Dean’s Undergraduate and Graduate Medalists, Outstanding Thesis/Project, standard bearers, etc.
  • ex officio on college committee-Budget and Resources
  • ex officio on college committee-Research and Scholarly Activities

Michael Thomas

  • Provide support for the Leadership Program
  • Oversee academic facilities (classrooms, laboratories- except the University Agricultural Laboratory), offices, and instructional equipment
  • Oversee activities and management of the Jordan Agricultural Research Center and the Graduate Laboratory including the research technicians assigned to those spaces
  • With Marian's departure, support will be picked up by Linda, Nathan, Karey, and Mary. Additionally, we will be looking to Ag One to help with managing scholarships and assisting with event planning (should we be able to have commencement and other events).


I would like to thank all members of the Jordan College family for your extraordinary dedication during the latter part of the Spring 2020 semester.

Pivoting from normal to anything but normal in course delivery (classroom to virtual), work spaces (desktops to laptops, offices to homes, quiet to unruly), working conditions (close proximity to social distancing, masks, frequent hand washing) and daily interactions (from face to face to zoom) was a course in change the likes of which most of us have never experienced. I'm grateful for your resilience, persistence, and overall optimism that we can get through this together.

A shout-out to all those who submitted ARI grant proposals. Everyone should have received the results. Congratulations to those who were funded.

ARI System Proposals

Luca Brillante. Remote sensing-assisted scouting of virus infections in vineyards

Florence Cassel Sharma. Weighing lysimeter studies to determine evapotranspiration and develop new crop coefficients for forage crops

ARI Campus Proposals-Conditional

Katy Tarrant. Evaluating the impact of litter management practices in the Central Valley on broiler health and crop health

Sonet Van Zyl. The effects of foliar applied calcium carbonate in table grapes - From berry formation to post-harvest storage.

Charles Hillyer. Groundwater Sustainability Agency (GSA) Irrigation Scheduling Toolkit.

Sharon Benes. Decision Support and Remote Sensing Tools for Salinity Management and Forage Yield Sustainability under Saline Conditions.

ARI Seed Grants

Carmen Licon. Using physiological and behavioral responses to uncover emotional associations to cheese aromas

Sharon Freeman. A Longitudinal Investigation of Soft Skill Development of California Agricultural Education Students

Christy Sun. The Effect of Aging on Phenolic Content in Cabernet Sauvignon Wines Made from Different Vine Canopy Treatments

Miguel Pedroza. Bodily responses as a new parameter to estimate emotions evoked by wine aroma: practical applications

Have a happy and safe 4th of July Holiday



Dean's Update (June 9)

Dean Dennis NefAssociate Dean search

I want to thank Michael Thomas for his outstanding service as Associate Dean this past year (and the previous year too although I was not here at the time). He has been instrumental in working with chairs to address our course offerings, student success, and most recently our ability to offer face to face laboratories. He has worked on critical issues around research space, Covid-19 responses, and grad lab and JARC issues. He has led the Jordan College response on student success initiatives and enrollment management and worked closely with our technology services liaison and the advising and career development office. His experience in leadership development has served the college well as he has led the leadership course and worked with honors program faculty. He has been a wonderful sounding board for me and I truly appreciate his service.

Earlier today, I met with Alex Alexandrou, Annette Levi, and Randy Perry and thanked them for their willingness to step forward and offer their skills, service, experience, and expertise to the college as candidates for the Associate Dean position. The campus interviews and search committee provided us with good insights into their character, talents, and strengths. The names of all three candidates were forwarded to me for consideration. Each would be a solid addition to the dean’s office.

Phrases we have all come to associate with the Coronavirus pandemic “rapidly changing”, “fluid situation”, “evolving”, etc. apply here as well. As I was wrapping up the search process, it became clear that budgetary considerations would have to be considered . In order to maintain our MPPs in the college (center directors and farm manager) and to meet some of the anticipated budget reductions, I am not appointing an Associate Dean at this time. Rather, I will be looking to use several faculty in assigned time roles to cover the duties of that office. There will be additional changes to our structure over the summer. Further information will be forthcoming.

In the meantime, please extend thanks to Alex, Annette, and Randy for their preparation and willingness to serve and to Mike for his contributions to the college.


Congratulations to Dr. Katy Tarrant and Dr. Dave Goorahoo for being nominated and named Outstanding Advisors.

In the News

Congratulations to our faculty who have been tenured and/or promoted. The provost has announced the following:

Tenure and Promotion to Associate

Todd Lone
Katy Tarrant
Aimee Rickman

Promotion to Full

Srinivasa Konduru
Pei Xu

Thanks to all who are working every day on campus. The University Agricultural Laboratory is a busy place-lots of corn going out along with all of the other vegetables now available-thanks to Gary, Jeremy, and Mark for making that happen. Thanks to Daniel who has been able to get milk in the market. Fruit is also starting and of course the usual products continue to move through the market..

I hope you stay healthy and safe through the summer.




Dean's Update (May 18)


Dean Dennis NefIn the News

At its meeting last week, the Board of Trustees approved the naming of the enology building for Donald E Gumz in recognition of his significant gift to the enology program. Mr. Gumz spent a considerable part of his career in the wine industry. David Zoldoske got him involved with the enology and CIT programs and Mr. Gumz left a sizeable gift to both programs. Signage has already been added to the building (Thanks to Stephan Sommer for the photo)

As you know, the Chancellor has announced CSU campus' will be offering mostly virtual courses this coming Fall semester.

Dr. Michael Thomas has been working closely with department chairs to identify which of our course offerings might be made available face to face. The University has set stringent standards that mean very few courses will be in this category. We are looking at laboratory courses that might qualify. In addition to social distancing (which severely limits the number of students in a laboratory or lecture space), testing may be an issue. With most courses being delivered virtually and a desire for synchronous learning to be prominent, faculty are encouraged to seek training this summer. The university anticipates making federal funding available to support faculty in this training.

The Governor's May Revise made significant reductions in higher education funding which will impact all of us. The president has formed a committee to make recommendations to him by the end of the week. Randy Perry sits on the committee.

Upcoming Events

We missed the opportunity to meet with our students to celebrate commencement last week but appreciate the work of the departments in organizing various recognition events. Geoff Thurner and others have worked tirelessly to recognize a number of our graduating students with social media stories including our Dean's medalists Hardeep Singh and Cameron Standridge.


Congratulations to all those recognized in the Library's Outstanding Publications display. Those recognized from the Jordan College include Srini Konduru, Serhat Asci, Amber Hammons, Jessica McKenzie, Jamie Levitt, Carmen Licon, Steven Pao, Luca Brillante, Sanliang Gu, and Stephan Sommer.

Hardeep Singh Daliwal, the Jordan College Graduate Dean's medalist was recognized with the Distinguished International Student Service Award by the Fresno State International Office. 

Opportunities for Faculty and Staff

As you plan for the summer, please consider taking advantage of CSU programs that will help you in your courses this coming fall. 



Dean's Update (May 11)

Dean Dennis NefRecognition

At the 9th Annual Jordan College Faculty and Staff Recognition and Appreciation event on Friday May 8, we recognized our faculty and staff service award recipients as well as our college award winners. Recognized for 5 years of service were Karey Debardeleben, Katherine Mathew-Coelho, and Geoff Thurner; and for 25 years of service Marlene Miyasaki and Mark Salwasser. Thank for your continued work!. We recognized the retirement of Danny Sexton (Ag Operrations-15 years), Peter Canessa (CIT-20 years), Kurt Dietrich (Ag Operations-34 years) and Sandra Witte (Dean Emerita-38 years). We also recognized the members of the Honors Faculty Council (Jason Liang, Avery Culbertson, Aimee Richman, Erin Dormedy, Arun Nambiar, Maggie Ellis, Kristy Sun, Amanda Mckeith Mike Thomas) and the 2018-2020 honors student faculty mentors (Steve Rocca, Kyle Thompson, Scott Williamson, Jessica McKenzie, Lisa Herzig, Shabnam Pooya, John Bushoven, Dave Goorahoo, and Luca Brillante). Those who were able to attend the Honors Program Presentation on Monday May 4 can attest to the work they have done and the results in the lives of their students.

The Distinguished Service Award went to Terence Wan of the Advising and Career Development Center. Of note is the fact that his nomination came from all of the faculty in the Departments of Agricultural Business and Animal Sciences and Agricultural Education. One wrote “I have not seen any student who has come out dissatisfied about the advising session that they had with Terence.” He provides guidance to students facing every kind of problem: academic, personal, career and helps them set and achieve goals. He helps faculty be better advisors. Terence is also involved off campus. He has assisted his wife and other volunteers at the Buddhist Temple, Tzu Chi. He helps with the set up and break down of free medical clinics in underserved communities and assists with donation of clothes, food and other items to underserved groups in the community during the holiday season. He is a tremendous asset for the college. Congratulations Terrance,

We recognized Dr. Maggie Ellis of the Department of Plant Science with the Outstanding Research and Scholarly Activity Award. Since her arrival in 2014, Dr. Margaret Ellis has successfully established a significant research program, and has quickly joined the ranks of California’s leading plant pathologists. She has already secured over $350,000 in direct funding from federal, state and crop-specific commodity boards. Dr. Ellis is a very active contributor to some of the leading scientific journals of her profession and has presented her research at each of the annual meetings of the American Phytopathological Society as well as other conferences. She serves in an editorial capacity for the American Phytopathological Society, as a Board Member in the California Chapter of the American Society of Agronomy, and an invited program reviewer for the US Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture. She also holds a seat on the California Department of Pesticide Regulation Advisory Board in recognition of her expertise with some of the most important plant pathogens endangering California’s agriculture industry. Maggie is the advisor to Josue Diaz- the outstanding thesis award winner this year!. Congratulations Dr. Ellis

The Nicolas Salgo-Noren Excellence in Teaching Award was presented to Dr. Balaji Seth. Dr. Seth strives to bring out the best in his students by blending lecture and project-based hands-on activities with his personal effort to inspire them to get out of their comfort zones and stretch themselves. He draws upon experiences from manufacturing at Caterpillar, precision agriculture in the Midwest and research projects through external grant funding . One of his students say "there was not one class setting when I did not hear about a real world agricultural application example in his teaching.. Dr. Seth makes sincere efforts to lower textbook costs for his students by using Open Education Resources in his classes He is a DISCOVERe scholar and his nomination seemingly includes every software and technology used in higher education. He writes "… given the limited time students spend in the learning environment, I strongly believe that it is my duty as a faculty member to facilitate their learning process in the most efficient and effective way with a focus on student friendly yet effective methodologies, seamlessly integrating teaching and learning. … most of what students learn is lost unless it is to put to use immediately or taught to others.” That he has been able to achieve that integration can be seen in the records of his students who have won numerous research prizes and awards and have presented their work in national and international conferences and gone on to earn PhD’s of their own. Congratulations Dr. Seth.

The presidents medalist and university graduate medalists will be announced later this week. The Jordan Dean's medalists will be competitive. Our undergraduate medalist is Cameron Standridge, of Hanford. He completes a B.S. in agricultural education, teacher preparation with a 4.0 GPA. Standridge’s passion for agriculture can be seen through his involvement with the University Agricultural Laboratory. He worked in the Meat Lab where he learned about food safety protocols, meat fabrication and product quality assurance. Standridge also worked at the Horticulture Nursery where he helped lead the Summer Kids Ag Camp and mentored special needs students from Sanger Unified School District. As a Smittcamp Family Honors College scholar, Standridge completed many hours of volunteer work in the community. He was in the Jordan College Honors Program and participated in organizations like the FFA Field Day Committee. Standridge would like to be a high school agriculture teacher and eventually earn his doctorate and teach agricultural education at a university.

The Jordan Graduate Dean's medalist is Hardeep Singh Dhaliwal, an international student from Mansa, India, who is completing his M.S. in plant science with a 4.0 GPA. He earned his B.S. in agriculture from Punjab Agricultural University in Ludhiana. Dhaliwal is from a rural area of India that struggles with water scarcity, soil and water salinity and a lack of educational opportunities. Dhaliwal’s parents did not go to college but instilled in him a love of learning. As an undergraduate, Dhaliwal tested soil and water from farm fields to give farmers recommendations on how to increase productivity. His interest in agricultural sustainability led him to Fresno State to study drought and soil health. Dhaliwal worked on almond, pistachio and citrus research projects, and he was an intern with the University of California Cooperative Extension, Fresno in vineyard operations. He received the Robert and Norma Craig Graduate Fellowship, the Fresno County Farm Bureau Scholarship and the Edna and Henry Metzler Scholarship.

Upcoming Events

May 15 - Governors May revise. We may have a better idea of what our budget will look like.

May 22 - Date by which the president hopes to announce plans for fall

Last week of May - Sweet corn sales start at Gibson Farm Market.

In the News

Thanks for the wonderful year.

As the year began, I spoke of focusing our efforts on student success, improving operations, and broadening/deepening relationships with external audiences. I used IWADWWADWAGWWAG (If we always do what we've always done we'll always get what we've always got) to encourage us to think about doing things differently that we have done in the past. As the academic year comes to a close, I think we all agree it was not anything like what we've always done.

Thanks to the faculty who changed their mode of curriculum delivery in a matter of hours this spring and then spent half the semester doing their best to help students have a valuable learning experience while they themselves were often operating in crisis mode. An additional thank you to those faculty who served on the Faculty Executive Committee, Academic Programs, and the Research, Scholarly and Creative Activity committee for their service.

Thank you to all the staff who had to adjust their mode of working and quickly adapt to unfamiliar technologies to carry on the work, and a special thank you to our UAL staff and students who continued to work on the farm to insure that this most essential of operations did not languish.

I would also like to thank the Deans office staff for their support. Linda has guarded my calendar. Nathan Gapasin led the college in implementing docusign so that requisitions, reimbursements, and invoices were acted on promptly. Others in the dean’s office have been helpful in many ways.

Thank you to the Administrative Council-the Department chairs for their continued role in maintaining communication channels, the Center Directors-Stephan Sommer, Charles Hillyer, and Susan Pheasant for not only carrying on but pushing forward with new grants, new construction, and new ideas.

Thanks to Alcidia Freitas Gomes and her team’s continued efforts to broaden and deepen our relationships with external audiences.

Thanks to Mark Salawasser who celebrates his first anniversary in his new role in a few days. I have not seen anyone in the college work harder or put in longer hours this past year. I am truly grateful.

Finally for Michael Thomas who served so selflessly this year as associate dean. As you know, Mike is retiring after 35 years of service to Fresno State. He will be entering FERP so will still be around. He has provided invaluable service. He was uniquely qualified to handle some of the challenges we faced this year. When we had a listeria problem in the creamery, he knew exactly who to pull together and how to proceed. That team of Daniel, Erin, Julia, Steven and Mark did yeoman work. I think Mike got so he could read my mind. I would barely mention an idea and he was on it. His series this spring on change, uncertainty, and adaptation-and today’s on improvers-has been helpful to me and I hope to you. I will miss him in the associate dean role.

All of our faculty and staff are important to the success of the college. When a team approach was needed, you were there. So thank you for all you do. You are awesome. As I mentioned in the recognition event, I was exposed to the Book of Awesome a few weeks ago and finished reading it just before our event. The author-Neil Pasricha gave a bit of its history in a TED talk 10 years ago. That talk addresses attributes that might help us get through tough times. You can find it here

Best Wishes in the last week of the semester. Stay healthy!


Dean's Update (April 28)

Dean Dennis Nef

Like most of you, I have been 'sheltered in place' for as long as I want and am ready to be freed. Unfortunately, that freedom does not appear to be imminent. Let's be patient together. I hope you and those you care about remain healthy. It could be more constraining: Rob Wilmott took his wife to the hospital for the birth of their son and ended up being 'shettered' there for four days. Mother and son are home and doing well and Rob now knows more about living in a hospital than he probably wanted to. Congratulations to the Wilmotts!


Dr. Dave Goorahoo, Professor of Plant Science was named the recipient of the 2019-2020 Provost's Excellent in Teaching Award.

Dr. John Bushoven, his department chair, points out that Dave "has successfully integrated field experience opportunities and hands-on learning experiences within his existing courses. He is committed to regularly integrating his professional development and research activities into all of his courses, ensuring his students actively engage in high-impact practices."

One of the Dr. Goorahoo's students writes "I literally go home after class and think about everything that Dr. Goorahoo taught us or presented to us that day in class, how awesome is that!” Awesome indeed. In his response to his nomination by students and faculty, Dave wrote "I promote the belief that true education must not to be confined within the walls of an institution."

We have been forced outside those walls this semester! Dr. Goorahoo takes his students on field trips and on international study abroad programs. He exposes them to guest lecturers who are experts in their fields. Congratulations Dr. Goorahoo!

Opportunities for Faculty and Staff

As we begin planning for fall we face some difficult choices. We will be coming to you for input on the best way to offer our curricula in an environment constrained by state shelter in place rules and a tight budget. We recognize that we will not be able to have the same kinds of events and activities as in the past. Our courses are likely to look different too. What kinds of resources and training do you think would be helpful in doing your job? Please give this some thought.

Upcoming Events

And speaking of events, each of our departments is putting together a recognition event for our graduating seniors. We are also planning an end of the year faculty/staff meeting for late next week. Of course, it will be virtual. Please watch for an invitation.

Student Survey

JCAST and three other colleges teamed with OIE to survey our students last week. In the first 36 hours that the survey was available, 311 JCAST majors responded (our students are passionate and engaged)!

A couple of questions asked whether or not students had taken advantage of available services such as the advising office, the student cupboard, and DISCOVERe. Students could be referred to the appropriate office if they expressed concerns or needs in a particular area. Just over 15% of those responding had taken advantage of the student cupboard. Of concern was that only 25% had accessed our advising office and this was the week of registration. Some questions explored changes in their personal situations. Seventy four percent of the respondents were working prior to COVID-19 and over 40% of them saw their hours reduced to zero. This lead to concerns about finances.

The survey asked "What feedback would you like to give your professors, especially related to online teaching" This was broken into two parts. "What is working?" and "What is not working?" 172 of the 311 students responding identified good things that were happening. They appreciated the extra effort faculty were taking to communicate with them, their use of Zoom, and the flexibility and understanding shown them by the faculty.

When asked what more Fresno State could do to support them, the single largest category of comments was be flexible. 186 students identified things that they felt could be improved. The most often cited issue was the increase in the number of assignments faculty were giving. They expressed a need to understand why the workload increased. We will be getting additional responses and see what we can learn from them.

My take away is that the majority of our faculty are reaching out to help our students be successful in this trying time.



Dean's Update (April 20)

Dean Dennis NefIn the News

While we do not yet know what the fall semester will look like, we are beginning to see what the longer run costs of dealing with COVID 19 will be. The state is now looking at modifying the budget process (see the picture below where the blue is the usual budget process and the green/yellow is what is likely to happen this year) which means we will be operating with limited budget information for the next 6-8 months. However, we do know that the CSU and the campus will see reductions in state funding. This is going to be a pretty rough stretch. We will need to work very closely to identify how we can reduce expenditures or increase revenues and stretch all of our dollars to achieve as much as possible from them.

Upcoming Events

I'm sure most of you are like me and all upcoming events are phone or zoom based with a relatively small number of people (or the number of people in your class). I look forward to when we can schedule an event for all of the college faculty and staff. It may be quite a way off but I think we can start brainstorming what that might be. Let's dream about it together. Please send your ideas to Linda!


Kudos to our faculty who not only quickly modified courses to a completely different delivery system but have now delivered those courses for several weeks by continuing to adapt to changing circumstances. It is not a matter of one time changes but daily modifications to help students achieve the desired outcomes. The continued focus on their students even to the extent that some outcomes have been modified is greatly appreciated. Thank You!

Geoff Dervishian has been instrumental in representing the university and working with the county health department in adapting a room within JARC to help the county analyze the results of COVID 19 tests. Thanks Geoff

A number of our Agricultural Operations staff have continued to accomplish essential functions and keep the farm, the machinery center, and the farm market going. Thanks so much to all of you.

Opportunities for Faculty and Staff

Since we are spending so much time on zoom, the University has prepared several backgrounds. Find them at

In the News

While we do not yet know what the fall semester will look like, we are beginning to see what the longer run costs of dealing with COVID 19 will be. The state is now looking at modifying the budget process (see the picture below where the blue is the usual budget process and the green/yellow is what is likely to happen this year) which means we will be operating with limited budget information for the next 6-8 months. However, we do know that the CSU and the campus will see reductions in state funding. This is going to be a pretty rough stretch. We will need to work very closely to identify how we can reduce expenditures or increase revenues and stretch all of our dollars to achieve as much as possible from them.



Dean's Update (April 6)

Dean Dennis NefIn the News

Our faculty have done a lot of work in the last couple of weeks to change the way their courses are delivered. Thank you!. We have heard some concerns about student engagement. Please reach out to students who you notice are AWOL. The university will be releasing a list of resources for students to help them. Also, as you hold synchronous classes using zoom, it may help to record the session so it is available for students later.

On Friday April 3, policies regarding Credit No Credit grading were changed for the Spring 2020 semester only. After grades are turned in, all students earning an F will have that changed to an NC. This will reduce the impact on a student's gpa. Also, after grades are in, students will be given an opportunity to petition for a change of grade in other courses. Departments can "opt out" of allowing students to change to Cr/NC grading for specific courses. However, that decision will be reviewed by the Dean and the Provost. The university will also provide students with information on how changing to Cr/NC grading may negatively impact them.

The Care team is still fully functioning and is a great resource to use during this difficult time. If anyone becomes aware of a student with any type of challenges or need, the CARE Team will act as a single point of contact - just fill out the online referral form and the student will be connected to the appropriate resources.


Please be aware that the university has put together a committee to decide how to recognize students graduating this year. Departments and colleges are asked not to plan recognition events of their own for now.

Thanks for all you do in these unique times. Please do your best to keep you and your families and loved ones safe and healthy. I hope you enjoy Spring Break.




Dean's Update (March 30)

Dean Dennis NefIn the News

There will undoubtedly be several memos coming out this week with further adjustments but here is what we know currently:

  • the work environment through the rest of the semester for faculty and staff will be similar to last week's. The dean's office and all department offices are closed with staff working from home and coming in periodically to check mail, etc.
  • Agricultural operations continue and those working on campus need to observe social distancing, frequent hand washing, and staying home if you don't feel well
  • buildings with key card access will be locked down 5 p.m. to 8 a.m. and are accessible during these hours only through campus police.
  • printing in the library won't be an option for students so be careful re: requests for students to print.
  • Summer session will only be online
  • There is a 'hiring chill' which is impacting hiring at all levels. The Chancellor has imposed “a marked slowdown in our hiring practices effective immediately…all open searches are to be stopped, unless the President … agrees that the position is vital and the search should continue” Presidents may approve searches but “Only mission critical positions that are vital to meeting the day-to-day operations and are core to meeting the CSU mission going forward may be approved to be filled.”
  • Faculty should not be scheduling classes on March 31 (Cesar Chavez day) nor during Spring Break (April 6-10) next week

Faculty Tips

The "Teaching Remotely Remotely During Disruption" pdf from the chancellor's office (sent out Friday to all faculty) has some great ideas. Among them were the following:

  • Be kind to yourself and patient with those around you
  • Seek student feedback
  • Create learning experiences for students to work at their own pace
  • Focus on core concepts
  • Communicate consistently and often
  • Be empathetic
  • Emphasize learning over testing
  • Acknowledge the interruption

Coming Events

The president has announced an online forum for April 15. The provost will join him. We will have a time next week.



 Dean's Update (March 20)

Dean Dennis NefRecognition

Thanks to Kyle Thompson and Alcidia Gomes for their work in obtaining support for the dairy. More information will be forthcoming but a load of hay arrived this week at the dairy from one of our community partners. 

Opportunities for Faculty/Staff

CFE remains available to help faculty remotely. You can complete this form or call 278-6892 Monday - Friday from 8:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. for an appointment.

In the News

According to the Farmer’s Almanac, the first day of spring kicked off last night in the Northern Hemisphere at 8:50 p.m. PDT with the arrival of the Vernal Equinox. This is the earliest start to spring in 124 years. What an extraordinary year!

Clearly, it is extraordinary in other ways too with a world-wide pandemic that is impacting all of us in an unprecedented fashion. As we move through this very uncertain time, I hope we all recognize that we are in this together. We need to do all we can individually to take care of ourselves by following the basic rules of hygiene that have been reiterated many times in the last few weeks:

  • Wash your hands frequently with soap and water, for 20 seconds at a time
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
  • Stay home if you are sick, are experiencing fever and respiratory symptoms (such as fever with coughing or difficulty breathing/shortness of breath).
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces at home, work and school.
  • Practice healthy habits: Get plenty of sleep, be physically active, manage your stress, drink plenty of fluids and eat nutritious food.

Additionally, we need to reach out to those around us-our university community-in a different way. Dr. Thomas has prepared a presentation to help us think through how we might best do this and I encourage you to take a look at.

Trying to keep up with the changes in our work environment is difficult. All of the official campus communications can be accessed at There have been 17 posted since March 6 and 6 in the last 4 days. Here is the situation as I understand it as of Friday March 20 at 3:00 p.m.

  • The campus is open and the president’s, provost’s, and dean's offices are staffed along with essential services (Admissions and Enrollment Management, Auxiliary Services, Center for Faculty Excellence, Dining Services, Environmental Health and Safety, Facilities Management, Faculty Affairs, Farm Laboratory enterprises, Financial Services (including student accounts), Human Resources & Payroll, Library (limited services to support virtual instruction), Public Safety, Student Health and Counseling Center, Student Housing, Student Services (e.g. Financial Aid, Student Cupboard, Services for Students with Disabilities, Registrar and advisers), Technology Services and University Communications.).
  • While the Jordan College dean’s office is open, the office staff are in a telecommuting rotation. I am appreciative of their willingness to go the extra mile to insure our success. Mike and I are in a group that “could be most affected by the COVID-19” and have been asked to “refrain from coming to campus”. However, we are available via phone, email, and zoom and are in frequent contact with each other and the office.
  • All units of the University Agricultural Laboratory are operational and work is ongoing-thanks so much to Mark Salwasser and our outstanding enterprise managers and staff;
  • researchers are being supported through the centers, the farm, JARC and the grad lab center directors, Mark, Stella Sommer, and Geoff Dervishian are able to provide assistance as needed-again thank you;
  • instruction has all moved to a virtual delivery mode with faculty meeting their classes synchronously during the regularly scheduled class/lab times. Faculty have done yeoman work in a four short days to drastically change their pedagogy including modifying labs. Thanks to our outstanding faculty for their efforts;
  • department and advising offices are not open but staff are telecommuting and deadlines continue to be met. I think we have outstanding people and as some of the traditional demands on their time wind down, we are excitedly looking forward to their assistance with some new projects-additionally, student assistants assigned to these offices are telecommuting and taking care of assigned projects.
  • Ag One and our development office people are working remotely for the most part. We have been asked to not make physical contact with our friends and alumni but Alcidia and her team continue to make contact in other ways.
  • Financial transactions are moving forward. Nate Gapasin has pioneered the use of Docu-Sign and put a number of us on Slack teams to facilitate ongoing work and help our teams function effectively. Thank you Nate.
  • Geoff Thurner and his student assistants are launching a new effort to share our stories during this transitional time. Please let him know of newsworthy happenings.
  • Daniel Nguyen and his team have worked tirelessly to help faculty and staff transition to the virtual environments we now inhabit. Thanks so much.
  • We are still working out how to handle campus mail.
  • Phones continue to be answered in all offices as calls are forwarded to telecommuting staff or the deans office.

I hope you have an enjoyable weekend



 Dean's Update (March 20)

Dean Dennis Nef

Good Morning. I thought it might be interesting to send an email newsletter to college faculty and staff letting you know what is getting my attention. I will try it for a couple of weeks and see if it is worth continuing based on feedback. Should it continue, the dean's office staff suggest a contest to name it. We will see.


Congratulations to Carmen Licon and her colleagues in Food Science for securing the donation of a pump that will make a signficant improvement in the food processing lab. Thanks to Wilden for the donation and Bret Bookhamer, a Sales Manager at Pumping Solutions, Inc., Ontario, CA, who for several years has been a guest lecturer for the Department of Food Science and Nutrition and Viticulture and Enology at Fresno State. He was instrumental in the process. More information and a picture are here.

Upcoming Events

  • Thursday March 12, 6:00 – 10:00pm Stanislaus County Alumni and Friends Dinner at the Stanislaus County Swiss Club, 812 E Taylor Rd, Ceres, CA Social at 6 p.m., dinner and short program at 7 p.m., silent auction. Award honoring Mel Machado, induction into the Hall of Fame. Benefiting the Stanislaus County Scholarship Fund.
  • Friday March 13. noon to 2 p.m. The Power of Data in Housing. Register online at . More information about the Digital Housing Data Repository can be found here
  • Saturday March 14 8:00am – 4:00pm Horticulture Nursery Spring Veggie Plant Sale at the Gibson Farm Market
  • Tuesday, APril 14, 2020 — 6:30 PM Zócalo Public Square will be hosting an event at Arte Americas in Fresno entitled, "How Can We Make Farm Work Healthier?" It is free and open to the public— please make a reservation in advance if you wish to participate
  • April 27 8:00am – 4:00pm The Holiday Inn, Long Beach Airport Student Success Network Convening Equity-Minded Teaching and Learning. The campus can send a team of 5-6. Learn more HERE. If you would like to participate, please reach out to Bernadette Muscat. Travel expenses are covered by the CSU

Opportunities for Faculty and Staff

Administrative Council members are gathering input on a vision statement that can be used as part of the comprehensive campaign. Information from the campaign consultant suggested that a vision statement should be bold and declarative and provide a logical connection between the Fresno State mission and the priorities we will pursue in the campaign. According to the consultant, characteristics of a vision statement would include:

  • Bold: This vision will stretch you, perhaps beyond your current reach
  • Specific: Speaks to the impact you will have on an issue that people care about
  • Defensible: You are positioned to get it done
  • Relevant: Is clearly “yours” based on the Fresno State mission
  • Memorable: Non “insiders” can grasp and advocate for the concept
  • Brief: Say no more.​

JCAST Draft Vision Statement

A very rough draft has been shared (below). Feel free to provide input:

With roots that ground Fresno State, the Jordan College is recognized as the leader in agricultural education in the Central Valley and prepares its students for a sustainable future by cultivating hands-on, real world problem solving today. 

In the News

  • The college hosted visitors from the Punjab on March 5 providing a farm and winery tour. Several faculty from the Punjab Agricultural University in Ludhiana will be visiting later this spring to learn more about wine making. The Vice Chancellor will be here in April. The exchange is also helping build relationships with the local Punjabi community. The provost is also working on a Sikh Studies program with PAU
  • Also on March 5, the Fresno City Council presented a proclamation to the Jordan College relating to National Ag Day. Council member Caprioglio worked closely with ASI Senater Jacqui Taylor to develop the proclamation.
  • A group of faculty and staff met with a community partner that is interested in having the college partner with them to evaluate a 600 acre planting of high density almonds in Kern County. The analysis will include scientific, technological, and economic analysis of all aspects from land prep to harvesting over the next few years. A multidisciplinary team will be involved. It may lead to a small scale research plot on campus too.
  • I met with several other university and community partners that are excited to help us on the farm. Technology leaders from the Chancellor's office along with Orlando Leon-the campus vp for technology services-met with Dr. Thomas and I to discuss what we need to make the "internet of things" a reality across the college including the farm. We will be hearing more about these efforts in the future. Our development team is working intensively on these efforts with an internal cross disciplinary team led by Alcidia Gomes kicking off discussions later today.
  • The university is grappling with how to respond to the coronavirus. You will be seeing a number of emails in the next day or two. Department chairs are meeting this morning to draft an emergency plan and faculty are asked to develop contingency plans for their courses. An email went out to students yesterday. The university has a coronavirus webpage