California State University Chancellor Joseph Castro resigns over handling sexual misconduct complaints

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Los Angeles – The chancellor of California State University, the nation’s largest public university system, has resigned after being accused of mishandling sexual misconduct allegations.

Joseph I. Castro resigned Thursday, effective immediately, the CSU Board of Directors said.

In a statement, Castro called it the most difficult decision of his professional life.

Castro came under fire after a USA Today investigation published Feb. 3 questioned the handling of misconduct complaints against Frank Lamas, former Fresno State vice president of student affairs, when Castro was president of the university.

The article says Lamas has been the subject of a series of informal complaints, including allegations from 2014 that he inappropriately touched women, made sexist comments, and harassed or retaliated against women. workers.

No action was taken against Lamas until a formal complaint was filed in 2019, when he was expelled from campus and later found guilty of violating a harassment policy of the CSU, according to documents cited by the San Francisco Chronicle.

CBS Los Angeles Reporting the action against Lamas came after a former employee alleged he offered her a promotion in exchange for sexual favors.

Lamas denied the allegations and appealed the finding.

He retired in 2020 as part of a settlement agreement, according to the Los Angeles Times Castro was a central figure in the brokerage.

Under the agreement, he received a payment of $260,000 and while he was barred from working at CSU again, Castro agreed to write him a letter of recommendation to help him find work. elsewhere, the documents say.

The revelations sparked a student protest in Fresno State earlier this month.

According to CBS LA, after the 2019 deal was announced, Castro sent a letter to the CSU community saying his primary goal in the deal was to remove Castro from campus and the community. He also revealed his regret for writing Lamas the letter of recommendation, which did not disclose any of the allegations against Lamas.

In the letter, Castro offered his condolences and apologized for “any additional hurt and understandable frustration caused by aspects of the mediated settlement agreement.”

The letter ended with Castro writing, “We need to do more – and we will do more. I am fully committed to working with our campus presidents and the CSU Board of Trustees on these critically important issues. , and I pledge to continue to do so until California State University becomes a national model for the prevention and redress of sexual misconduct in all its forms.”

Steve Relyea, CSU’s executive vice chancellor and chief financial officer, will serve as interim chancellor until an interim chancellor is named, the board said.

Cal State’s system is the nation’s largest four-year public university system, with 23 campuses, 477,000 students and 56,000 faculty and staff, according to its website.

Castro, appointed in 2020, was the first Mexican American and California native to lead the CSU system.

“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,” Castro said in a statement. “While I disagree with many aspects of recent media reports and ensuing commentary, it has become clear to me that resigning at this time is necessary so that CSU can continue to focus on its educational mission and the impactful work that remains to be done.”

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