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California State University president resigns after claiming he mishandled sexual harassment allegations

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The California State University chancellor announced his resignation Thursday after allegations he mishandled sexual misconduct allegations against an administrator while serving as president of Fresno State.

“I have been honored to serve California State University for more than eight years, including as eighth chancellor, and the decision to step down is the most difficult of my professional life,” Joseph I. Castro said Thursday about of his resignation, which takes effect immediately. . He was appointed in 2020.

Cal State’s system is the nation’s largest public four-year university system with 23 campuses.

Castro said he disagreed with “much of the comments that followed” related to the accusations about informal complaints against Frank Lamas, former vice president of student affairs for Fresno State when Castro was president. But he said he realized the resignation was necessary so the university system could “maintain its focus on its educational mission and the impactful work that remains to be done.”


Joseph I. Castro, then President of Fresno State, waves to the crowd before the team’s NCAA college football game on November 4, 2017 against BYU in Fresno, California. (AP Photo/Gary Kazanjian, File)
(AP Photo/Gary Kazanjian, File)

Starting in 2014, Lamas faced multiple charges of sexist comments, harassment, retaliation and inappropriate touching at work, but no action was taken until a formal complaint was filed against him. in 2019.

California State University president resigns after claiming he mishandled sexual harassment allegations

The water tower sits above the Cal State University campus in Fresno, California in 2007.

He was kicked off campus and retired in 2020 as part of a settlement agreement, receiving a $260,000 payout and a letter of recommendation from Castro. Lamas denies the allegations.

A Feb. 3 USA Today investigation sparked closer scrutiny of Castro, which led to a protest in Fresno State.


CSU Executive Vice Chancellor and Chief Financial Officer Steve Relyea will serve as interim chancellor until an interim is named, according to the board.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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