Former CSU Chancellor Joseph Castro will begin as a tenured professor at Cal Poly, after reports of him mishandling sexual misconduct complaints, Cal Poly confirmed to Mustang News on Friday.
Castro resigned as chancellor on Feb. 17. Before that position, he was Fresno State University’s president. A USA Today investigation revealed his failure to respond to sexual misconduct complaints against one of Fresno State’s administrators during his time as president.
Castro was previously under fire for his handling of sexual allegations and remarks made by Fresno State’s former vice president of student affairs Dr. Frank Lamas. A CSU investigation launched after the news was publicized found that Castro “received or was contemporaneously aware of all reports” of Lamas’ sexual misconduct.
Certain administrators’ contracts — including Castro’s — can include “retreat rights” guaranteeing them faculty positions at a CSU campus. Castro decided to exercise his retreat rights to become a professor at Cal Poly’s College of Business.
Cal Poly spokesperson Matt Lazier said the university is mandated to grant the faculty position.
Castro will be instated as a CSU employee starting Feb. 18, and will begin a full teaching assignment in the Spring 2023 quarter beginning in April. He will be teaching leadership and public policy in the management, human resources and information systems concentration of the college.
He told The Chronicle of Higher Education on Thursday that “he’d notified the campus that he looked forward to teaching there.”
“Dr. Castro’s retreat rights to Cal Poly were established by the CSU in September of 2020 in accordance with the standard process of naming a new CSU chancellor,” Lazier said in an email. “CSU policy mandates that Cal Poly honor Dr. Castro’s retreat rights.”
The USA Today found that Castro, the human resources department and Title IX office of Fresno State received at least 12 complaints about Lamas, Mustang News previously reported.
An investigation prompted by the CSU was released on Thursday, dating from March 25 through Aug. 10. The investigation included multiple interviews and analysis of allegations dating back to 2014.
“The President did not need — nor should he reasonably have expected — his subordinates to tell him to do his job and hold his direct report accountable,” Los Angeles employment lawyer, Mary Lee Wegner wrote in the CSU report. “The assertion that people must have supported his decisions about Lamas because they did not complain about them is similarly unpersuasive. The absence of complaints is not necessarily an implicit endorsement that all is well.”
There was also an independent investigation into Fresno State’s sexual harassment complaints on March 3. The new chancellor, Jolene Koester, sent a university-wide letter on June 23 that Title IX management would be updated, following Castro’s resignation.
Instead of the CSU firing Lamas, a settlement was reached, where Lamas received $260,000, rights to remain on campus without tenure and a recommendation letter for future employment, according to an investigation prompted by the CSU. A retirement announcement was also published about Lamas, written by Castro. The announcement celebrated Lamas’ time as vice president and noted his accomplishments.
“Best practices were not always followed,” Wegner wrote. “More could have been done, such as conducting an earlier investigation in response to reports in 2014 or 2016.”
Wegner also wrote that Castro supported Lamas and gave him encouragement following the allegations, which was “inappropriate.”
Castro has not yet responded to a request for comment from Mustang News at the time of publication.
Editor’s note: This article was updated on Oct. 6 to clarify retreat rights were a part of Castro’s contract.