FRESNO — In one of his final acts as president of Fresno State University, Dr. Joseph I. Castro announced the appointment of organic farmer, memory keeper and artist Nikiko Masumoto to the University Advisory Board.

Nikiko Masumoto

The 22-member University Advisory Board is a panel of community members that provides strategic input on development of the university. Members generally serve three-year terms. According to the University Advisory Board website, board members serve in an advisory capacity and provide counsel and advice to the president.

Masumoto, a Yonsei, works with her father David Mas Masumoto on the Masumoto Family Farm in Del Rey, an 80-acre organic farm that grows peaches, nectarines, apricots and grapes for raisins.

Masumoto developed and performed a one-woman show called “What We Could Carry,” which showcases the experiences of Japanese Americans before, during and after the internment of World War II. In 2016, she performed an excerpt from the show at the White House.

She has co-authored two books, “The Perfect Peach” and “Changing Season.” Along with Fresno State faculty member and poet Brynn Saito, Masumoto co-founded the Yonsei Memory Project, which uses arts-based inquiry to generate dialogue connecting the WWII incarceration of the Japanese American community with current civil liberties struggles.

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Castro also named NBA executive and former Fresno State basketball standout Rod Higgins to the Foundation Board of Governors. He played in the NBA for 13 seasons (1982-1994) as a member of the Chicago Bulls, Seattle SuperSonics, San Antonio Spurs and Golden State Warriors, among others. From 2007 to 2014, he was with the Charlotte Hornets, starting as general manager and going on to become president. After Higgins left the Hornets he joined the Atlanta Hawks as a college scout in 2017 and was then promoted to vice president of basketball operations for the Hawks in 2018.

“These incredible leaders will bring their nationally recognized expertise and diverse perspectives to our boards with these appointments,” Castro said. “Both boards are instrumental in helping Fresno State achieve its critical mission of empowering future leaders for the Central Valley and beyond.”

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