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University, community bid fond farewell to retiring president
Sheley farewell
Retiring Stanislaus State President Joseph Sheley was honored for his four years of service at the Turlock campus during a reception on Thursday. - photo by KRISTINA HACKER / The Journal

In his inaugural address to students in 2012, California State University, Stanislaus President Joseph Sheley laid out what would be a four-year mission to raise awareness of the high-quality education offered at the Turlock campus.

“We are a gem, no two ways about it. But we cannot afford to stay hidden,” Sheley said in September 2012.

Sheley encouraged alumni to brag about their university. He asked them to be proud of a beautiful campus with great facilities, employees that care about students and outstanding degree programs.

That pride is contagious, Sheley said, but the university must also “lead from the front.” Sheley called on the university to become more active in the region, showing local leaders the university’s true value.

During a reception held Thursday night to honor the retiring president and his wife, Dr. Bernadette Halbrook, Sheley once again called on alumni to tout the accomplishments of the university.

He said when he arrived to Stanislaus State, the university community was "under appreciating itself" and its alums had a "don't ask, don't tell" attitude about where they went to school.

"They were grateful for the education, the great faculty and the experience but they didn't feel the pride," he said.

"One of the things we've worked on very hard here with our alums is to make sure they know what the university is doing, the part they played in it and the part they will play in it as they mentor kids who come up," Sheley continued.

During his tenure, Sheley has worked to build strong ties between Stanislaus State and the community. The university has also gained national recognition as one of America’s best universities in advancing its graduates’ economic mobility and life outcomes.

Money Magazine ranked Stanislaus State as the number one public university in the nation for helping students exceed expectations and a study commissioned by the National Public Radio placed the university as fifth in nation in providing upward mobility. In this ranking, Stanislaus State was only preceded by Harvard, MIT, Stanford and University of California, Irvine.

"This man and this woman were life-changing for this area and they jumped into it. I always look back and think we were praying for someone like Dr. Sheley and we got someone like Dr. Sheley, someone who is a healer, someone who incorporated the community and we got it," said County Supervisor Vito Chiesa, who said he was speaking for all the elected officials present at Thursday's event.

While Sheley was honored by members of the university and community as a whole on Thursday, his official retirement date is July 1.

California State University has undergone a national search for the next president of Stanislaus State over the past four months. The university is expected to announce who the next president will be by the end of the month.