Some Cal State University campuses are planning to expand the amount of in-person courses next semester, said Joseph Castro, the CSU chancellor-select and Fresno State president.
At a press conference on Wednesday, Castro said he does not anticipate that next semester would be too different from the current one, but that each campus president will prepare a plan to be reviewed and approved by the chancellor's office.
“There will be some campuses that have the conditions in which they can add more in-person courses,” Castro said. “So for example, here in Fresno, our plan is to actually have more in-person courses in the spring than in the fall.”
He added that some campuses would be unable to extend the amount of in-person courses due to the local health conditions.
Castro said he hopes that the 2021 summer and fall semesters will have significantly larger numbers of in-person classes, but added that it would depend on the state COVID-19 pandemic.
“I promise you, as chancellor, I will keep you in touch on those kinds of issues, and I'll just ask for your patience because we're all living in this fluid environment,” Castro said. “So, we'll have to be flexible in terms of how we approach this.”
In September, Chancellor Timothy White, who will pass his role onto Castro in January, announced the continuation of virtual instruction into the spring. Students across the state, including the Cal State Fullerton community, have called for reduced tuition, as buildings such as the Titan Student Union and Student Recreation Center remain closed.
Castro said he was not fully aware yet of the varying campus fees, but that he has tried to make sure the fees charged at Fresno State are appropriate, such as eliminating fees for parking or housing if those services are not in use.
However, he noted that though facilities like fitness centers and student unions aren’t in use, it’s necessary to keep funding them.
“It's true that students are not using those facilities, but I would say that those are like the houses that some of our families own and they will be used in the coming years,” he said. “And it's really important that we continue to fund those and support those and I realized that is a bit of a sacrifice, but I do think that it's worthwhile for you and other CSU students.”
The CSUs, along with most universities, has suffered a massive financial hit at the hands of COVID-19. Last spring, CSUF lost about $20 million in a little over a month alone as a result of parking and housing refunds, said Fram Virjee, the university’s president, in April.
“We’re going to need to tighten our belts across the divisions and across the colleges in the coming months and likely, frankly, in the coming years,” he said.
The grim financial situation sparked fear among CSU employees, who were warned of possible layoffs in July by White.
Of the nearly 55,000 CSU employees, 303 of them received layoff notices with 99 from management positions, said Joseph Jelinic, senior director of collective bargaining.
Many colleges anticipated a drop in enrollment for the fall semester as a result of virtual instruction, which would add further financial strain to the system. Castro said that they need to be as “aggressive as we can” in regard to pursuing eligible students to keep up enrollment numbers.
“I think even during a pandemic, it's very important that students like all of you stay in school and get your degree and graduate and you'll be better off after COVID,” Castro said.