Credit: CSU News Center | Courtesy

Several Cal State University employee contracts include a policy that guarantees them a backup job somewhere in the CSU system.

For resigned CSU Chancellor Joseph Castro, that position is a tenured faculty role in Cal Poly’s very own Orfalea College of Business.

Castro resigned as Chancellor in February after USA Today published an investigation into his mishandling of sexual misconduct complaints while president at Fresno State.

In a settlement and release agreement obtained by Mustang News, the CSU explained Castro has entered the Executive Transition Program where he has been granted “retreat rights.” He can choose to move his retreat rights to a position at another CSU campus, or to be appointed as a tenured professor of leadership and public policy in Cal Poly’s College of Business. 

According to the CSU website, Castro has not yet accepted the position at Cal Poly. 

“Should Dr. Castro choose to retreat to a faculty position at Cal Poly, we are obligated to honor the rights provided by the CSU,” Cal Poly Provost Cynthia Jackson-Elmoore said at an Academic Senate meeting.

According to the agreement, Castro is now an adviser to the CSU Board of Trustees and will have an annual salary of $401,364 during the transition. The Executive Transition Program will end Feb. 17, 2023, one year after his resignation. 

Castro will also be paid for all unused vacation time, sick leave and other benefits. If Castro chooses to move from his home in Long Beach to San Luis Obispo, he will be reimbursed for moving expenses. 

Castro resigned on Feb. 17 following allegations that he mishandled sexual misconduct while president of Fresno State. Fresno State received several sexual misconduct complaints about former Vice President of Student Affairs Frank Lamas. 

A USA Today report revealed that Castro did not act on these complaints until a formal Title IX complaint was filed. Castro handled this complaint by settling with Lamas, who received a letter of recommendation and $260,000 in the settlement.

Since then, Fresno State’s Academic Senate, a faculty governing body, drafted a resolution declaring a “lack of confidence in the Chancellor to lead, direct, administer his duties in the California State University system.” 

CSU Board of Trustees responds by revising policies 

On March 1, the CSU Board of Trustees launched an independent investigation into the handling of the sexual misconduct allegations at Fresno State. There will also be a systemwide assessment of the CSU Title IX practices. 

Along with the Title IX assessment, revisions to the retreat rights policy of the CSU is being prepared. The revisions will bring consistency within this policy for all 23 campuses in the system, according to a CSU press release.

“The new systemwide policy will prohibit an administrator’s return to the faculty under certain circumstances, such as when the administrator has been found to have engaged in sexual harassment or other significant misconduct,” the press release stated. 

Retreat rights had previously been used at Cal Poly when its former vice president for strategic planning, Erling Smith, ended that role and joined the architectural engineering department in 2010. 

“Retreat rights are very important and valuable to our community,” Relyea said in the press release. “That opportunity to retreat should be extended to individuals in good standing with the CSU, not to individuals who have engaged in significant misconduct. The policy needs systemwide clarity, consistency, and modernization, thus we are reforming it.”

The CSU Board of Trustees is currently developing a plan to find a replacement for Castro. Executive Vice Chancellor and Chief Financial Officer Steve Relyea is temporarily serving as chancellor. 

Mckenna Rodriguez contributed reporting to this article.

Reports, concerns or questions about sexual harassment and other sexual discrimination should be directed to a campus Title IX Coordinator or the Office of Systemwide TIX Compliance.​ Reports, concerns or questions about Frank Lamas’s conduct while he was employed at Fresno State should be directed to Jamie Pontius-Hogan, Director of Title IX and Clery Compliance at or (559) 278-5357.

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