CSU chancellor resigns over mishandling of sexual harassment

February 18, 2022

Joseph Castro

By JOSH FRIEDMAN

California State University Chancellor Joseph Castro resigned on Thursday amid outcry over his handling of sexual harassment allegations against a former Fresno State administrator.

The CSU Board of Trustees received Castro’s resignation during a closed session hearing on Thursday. Castro’s resignation took effect immediately. Executive Vice Chancellor and Chief Financial Officer Steve Relyea will serve as acting chancellor until the CSU system names an interim chancellor.

“I have been honored to serve the California State University for more than eight years, including as its eighth chancellor, and the decision to resign is the most difficult of my professional life,” Castro said in a statement. “While I disagree with many aspects of recent media reports and the ensuing commentary, it has become clear to me that resigning at this time is necessary so that the CSU can maintain its focus squarely on its educational mission and the impactful work yet to be done.”

Castro allegedly mishandled years of sexual harassment, bullying and retaliation complaints against Fresno State administrator Frank Lamas. The allegations sparked outcry from students, faculty and lawmakers. [USA Today]

The CSU chancellor repeatedly chose not to discipline Lamas, despite Fresno State receiving at least a dozen sexual harassment, bullying and retaliation complaints against him over a period of six years. Castro knew of at least seven of the complaints, yet he praised Lamas publicly, wrote him glowing performance evaluations and endorsed him for a prestigious lifetime award that the administrator ended up winning.

After Fresno State launched a Title IX investigation into Lamas, Castro chose to settle the matter without disciplinary action. In an Aug. 2020 settlement, Castro authorized a $260,000 payment from Fresno State to Lamas, along with a clean record in exchange for Lamas’s retirement. Though the settlement banned Lamas from working for the CSU system again, Castro agreed to write him a letter of recommendation to help him find work elsewhere.

The CSU Board of Trustees is currently finalizing a succession plan to replace Castro. The board also plans to launch an initiative to strengthen institutional culture and bring CSU to the forefront of Title IX innovation, accountability and response, the trustees stated in a press release.

“We appreciate Chancellor Castro’s cooperation with the trustees and his decision to step down for the benefit of California State University system,” board chair Lillian Kimbell said in a statement.

A systemwide assessment to help help improve the CSU’s handling of Title IX and civil rights matters is expected to begin in March at Fresno State.


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Jorge Estrada

What happened to public floggings? This will limit false accusations and deal with the issue at the lowest level. No big deal when you compared to what is on TV or sold in the Cinema.


NorthSide

It looks like he’s headed our way now! Musical chairs…SOP of public education systems https://amp.fresnobee.com/news/local/article258556008.html


paragon

Now can we also reverse Castro’s idiotic mandate that Cal Poly switch from the quarter to the semester system? This would probably also require President Armstrong to have the spine it is clear he lacks.


slocalgal

Your article missed the part about the unique clause in Castro’s contract that allows him to take a backup job as a fully tenured professor at Cal Poly. In resigning under fire, he retained retreat rights to move on to a teaching position specifically at Cal Poly’s Orfalea College of Business, according to the CSU, where he would be a professor of leadership and public policy.


kayaknut

Fail at your job and be guaranteed another job with full pension also guaranteed. Sounds about right for government, public sector and California.


Travis from SLO

Only a quarter million of taxpayer and tuition money handed out to his friend, clearly this was a misrepresentation of the stellar job Castro did enriching his friends.


commonsenseguy

This infuriates me. All of these arrogant self-serving overpaid jerks need to be held accountable. It’s our taxpayer dollars that they walk away with. They could care less about anything or anyone. They’re rolling in the underserving money and benefits that need to be rescinded on some level.


I image they’re laughing all the way to the bank while holding up their middle finger to each taxpayer. The public education system continues to show they are corrupt liars that protect their own while not caring one bit about the education of the students. It’s across the board, from kindergarten through four-year universities. They can all go …. themselves!!!!!!


jimmy_me

I’m glad he stepped down, but… most bean counters don’t step down this easy when they’re caught acting in unethical ways. My guess is that there is lot more to this story that Castro does not want us to find out, so he resigned in an attempt to take focus off of him.


kayaknut

Does anyone believe this is an isolated case?