Fresno State president Jiménez-Sandoval debuts new booth in efforts to connect with students


Carlos Rene Castro/The Collegian

Fresno State President Saúl Jiménez-Sandoval debuts his new booth located in front of the University Student Union on March 16.

By Sarah Delgado, Lifestyle editor

Last September, Jaqueline Moline Berber was one of three students given the opportunity to create the newest landmark on the Fresno State campus. She was tasked with coordinating and building a new booth for Fresno State President Saúl Jiménez-Sandoval.

Berber, an architectural studies student, said she was eager to get the job after being interviewed by Jiménez-Sandoval. It fell in line with what she wants to do with her major. “I found it really cool because we were going to work alongside CM [construction management] majors, and in the real world, that’s exactly what you’re gonna do. You’re gonna work alongside a lot of different people from different fields. That’s why the program is pretty cool,” Berber said.

Three construction management students were commissioned with the project of building Fresno State President Saúl Jiménez-Sandoval a booth. (Carlos Rene Castro/The Collegian)

Jiménez-Sandoval debuted his new booth in front of the USU on Thursday, March 16, in efforts to build closer connections with students and faculty. The president will occupy the new booth two times a month with the next pop-up scheduled for March 27.

Carlos Antonio and Anthony Sousa were the other selected students who worked alongside Berber.

Berber said modifications were made to handle certain weather conditions after recent California storms.

“Originally, when I presented to the president, we had a low-end, middle-end and then a high-end one. My favorite one was the high-end which ended up being the one we built,” Berber said. “I wanted a calm-weathered, cabana type of vibe because a big emphasis on what the president wanted was to make it really welcoming.”

Brad Hyatt, the associate dean of the Lyles College of Engineering, said that over a dozen students had applied for the opportunity to build the booth for Jiménez-Sandoval. “​​Jiménez-Sandoval talked about this about two and a half years ago. We had tried to do it with some volunteer students last year, but because of the pandemic and different things that made it a little bit challenging,” Hyatt said.

He said that instead of volunteers, he coordinated with Jiménez-Sandoval to hire three students who could not only build his new booth, but also work alongside each other as design and construction students.

“A group of students that come from different backgrounds and have different ideas and different experiences can collaborate together and come up with something that it’s going to make a lasting impact,” Hyatt said.

Lauren Nickerson, associate vice president of University Communications, said that the new addition allows students and faculty to have full access to the president.

“I know the president is particularly excited to have access to students to hear from them directly. It’s been a huge part of his priority as our leader,” Nickerson said. “We’re hopefully going to be doing this multiple times a month, so they [faculty and students] can get used to interacting and connecting in that casual way.”

Nickerson said that with the new addition, students will have the opportunity to speak up about any concerns or advice that they seek from the president.

“Student voices absolutely matter, and from a campus leadership perspective, when we’re making decisions we want that student voice,” Nickerson said.

The idea to build the booth came to Jiménez-Sandoval as he often found that students would approach him during lunch time. “I have not been a student for the past 23 years, so what are the issues facing our students nowadays? We need to know that in order to then resolve them, in order to empower our students with our resources that we have,” Jiménez-Sandoval said.

In between his scheduled days of the month, he hopes that deans from the different colleges will occupy the booth to speak to students as well.

“Other administrators will be here so that the students get to know who is advocating for them, who is leading the university,” he said.

Jiménez-Sandoval’s main goal for the new booth stems from knowing what challenges the students face and how he can advocate for them. The booth also serves as another line of communication amongst the students and community.

“I think it’s one way to open the lines of communication and in letting our students know that we are all for the students,” Jiménez-Sandoval said. “This university exists to empower students who become leaders who then impact the Valley in a pretty tremendous way.”

Victor E IV attends the debut of President Saúl Jiménez-Sandoval’s presidential booth in the Free Speech Area. (Carlos Rene Castro/The Collegian)

With Victor E. Bulldog IV attracting students to the booth, some students said that they were eager to introduce themselves to Jiménez-Sandoval.

Bianca Palma, a communications major and employee of Student Involvement, said that the opportunity to meet him on a personal level was important to her. “Getting the opportunity to meet him informally was nice because you just like to feel a little bit more of that connection,” Palma said.

Individuals will have other opportunities to talk with Jiménez-Sandoval on March 27 from noon to 12:50 p.m. and April 12 from noon to 12:50 p.m. Individuals can also check out the president’s website for more information on visits.