By October 1, 2015 Read More →

InterView – Dr Joseph Sheley

Dr. Joseph F. Sheley
President California State University Stanislaus
By Chris Murphy

The central valley of California has been known for decades to be synonymous with hard work and values from agriculture, culture and education. CSU Stanislaus continues that theme by offering a world-class education mixed with the no-nonsense work ethic to produce outstanding students who are becoming tomorrow’s leaders. The campus is growing in enrollment and stature and is under the guidance of an excellent forward thinking President. An alumnus of Sacramento State, Joseph Sheley returned to his alma mater in 1996 after serving as a faculty member in sociology for 21 years at Tulane University where he also held the positions of chair of the Department of Sociology and faculty head of the University Senate. He holds a Ph.D. in sociology from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. Sheley was honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award from Sac State as the Distinguished Alumni Awards recipient in April 2012.

In 2015, Money magazine ranked Stanislaus the No. 1 public university in the nation for helping students exceed expectation. These high marks in the Money magazine rankings mirror the U.S. News & World Report, which placed the University among the top 10 four-year schools in the country in serving Hispanic students.

I am a proud CSU Stanislaus alumus (BCIS ’84) and fondly remember my college experience. I loved computer programming and coding, worked at Mom’s, enjoyed the school life, rode my bike to school and realized what a bang for the buck I got for my education. I hope that we can encourage more people to experience the value of a college education and our community needs to rally around our top ranked University. Smart cities and regions need a well-educated population. Let’s meet Joe Sheley.

ModestoView: At what point in your life did you realize you wanted a career in education?
Joseph Sheley: I got the bug during my senior year in college. I was lucky to have professors who were really engaged in their field, and I liked what I saw. They encouraged me to do graduate work, and thus began a long career.

MV: You see the gem that we have here with CSU Stanislaus, what do you think makes it so special in the network of CSU campuses?
JS: Stanislaus State has been a gem for a long time, but it was a hidden gem. People are now beginning to realize that it a special place. A size and scale that promote individual growth, big enough to afford privacy, small enough to recognize the individual. A beautiful campus. A very good faculty and a dedicated staff. Most important: a university experience that provides the foundation for life and career. All CSUs do this, but we do it especially well.

MV: CSU Stanislaus was ranked as the #1 university for exceeding expectations by Money Magazine; what does this mean to you and your team?

JS: That honor is a huge source of pride. It means that we are doing more than offering a curriculum. Instead, we know that our students most often are the first in their families to attend college. They come to Stan State without the confidence and generational advice that more traditional students have. Our faculty and staff aim to build self-confidence and strength in the basics without cutting corners. That’s the heart of the value-added Stan education for which we are ranked so high.

MV: As a student, what do you think means most in their college experience at Stanislaus?

JS: The quality of our academic experience is very high. But what puts us over the top is the opportunity for students, living on and off campus, to engage in the broader university life. All the research points to engagement as the key to success — student government, music, athletics, residence life, clubs, peer mentoring, etc. Whatever the choice, growth, confidence, communication, social awareness, and organizational skills come from engagement outside the classroom.

MV: Stanislaus has a unique combination of commuter students and those that live on campus, do you think that this enhances the experience for each kind of Student?

JS: It is true that, technically, the majority of our students commute. But their experience is not drive-on, drive-off. They remain on campus throughout the day for both classes and non-academic experiences. They study together, work on extracurricular projects, socialize. In most ways, it is difficult to distinguish the commuter from the residential student. Few other universities achieve this as we do.

MV: What are your key goals for the Stanislaus in the next five years?
JS: Our focus is upon strengthening advising before as well as after students begin college. We want to work with our K-12 and community college partners to make sure that families understand that college is financially within reach and that, with early attention to the basics, their children can enter college truly ready to compete. This will help with our overriding goal: produce more college graduates for the region.

MV: Attracting new students and keeping them in school is a very important goal, how does the One Purpose Scholarship program break new ground in this effort.
JS: One Purpose affirms for our students that their hard work is understood and appreciated by our community. A One Purpose gift also represents an investment in the future of our region. Most of our students come from the region and likely will remain as part of an incredibly talented professional workforce that will attract business investment in the region.

MV: If you had unlimited budget, what would be the one big thing you would bring to the Stanislaus Campus?
JS: If I had to choose only one thing, it would be stronger attention to writing. Good writing skills encompass everything that an individual needs to make a difference in life and in employment: strong communication, critical thinking, economy, adaptability, nuance. The knowledge base matters, but employers really value the capacity to adapt and communicate.

MV: When you are not leading your campus, describe your ideal day.
JS: Getting away, spending time with my wife, Bernadette, watching baseball.

MV: Beatles or Stones?
JS: I like the Beatles…. but always the Stones.

To donate to the CSU Stanislaus One Purpose Campaign, please click here:



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About the Author:

Chris Murphy is the President and CEO of Sierra Pacific Warehouse Group and Publisher and Founder of ModestoView Inc. Chris worked globally in the cycling industry returning to Modesto in 1996. He is also the founder of the Modesto Historic Graffiti Cruise Route, Legends of the Cruise Walk of Fame, Modesto Rockin’ Holiday, the Modesto Music History Organization and co-founder of the Modesto Area Music Association. Chris is married to his artist wife Rebecca since 1985 and has two daughters Madison and Abigail, both graduating from Modesto High and UC Berkeley. He is lead singer and guitarist for his band, Third Party that donates their performances to non-profits.