CSUSM President Reacts To Proposed State Budget Cuts, Online Fall Semester
KPBS Midday Edition Segments / May 21, 2020
The 23-campus California State University system is facing a $404 million reduction in funding compared to last year's budget.
Speaker 1: 00:00 Students looking ahead to the fall are dismayed to discover that many colleges and universities are planning to continue with mainly online learning. Cal state university campuses face 10% budget cuts from the state budget next year and they are working to restart the new semester safely with us as the president of Cal state San Marcus. Dr Ellen Newfeld who took office just last year. Thanks so much for being with us. Thank you for having me. So now the CSU system faces significant declines in state funding for the federal government, doesn't come through with extra help. If those cuts come to fruition. How do you see them affecting Cal state San Marcus?
Speaker 2: 00:38 You know, um, we have been working on that and working through that, um, looking at, um, everything from how we're organized, um, to how we serve students and, and really we're focusing on our priorities. Uh, really in student success is at the top of that. Um, but, but it is disappointing and I know it's a part of the, uh, economy that we're facing across sectors, um, to, to face these budget cuts, um, moving forward.
Speaker 1: 01:03 So while we're talking about that, what about tuition fee increases? Is there any talk of that?
Speaker 2: 01:09 Uh, not at this time, no. Um, we want to make sure that we keep, uh, our, uh, that we stay affordable and that we make sure we're giving the best experience to our students as we move forward in this unprecedented time.
Speaker 1: 01:23 So no talk of fee tuition increases. That's good. What about furloughs for the faculty? It's premature for that at this point. So how would Cal state San Marcus handle any budget cuts?
Speaker 2: 01:34 Well, right now, uh, we're looking at scenarios across the campus and having discussions we already have in place a hiring freeze, uh, um, or, or slow down, I should say, some with a few positions moving forward as well as we're not traveling at this point. Um, so we're looking across the board at some of those things that will create savings. We will be looking at, um, you know, as, as we create, um, the virtual experience, um, some people's jobs will shift and change as we, as we work through that. And so we're looking at every, uh, cost cutting measure that we can, but we're not going to compromise on the quality to our students.
Speaker 1: 02:12 It does appear that CSU is planning to go pretty much a completely online. Is that right or, or are you planning on keeping some of your courses, um, in person? I mean, is it, is there a chance that you would be doing like the UC system talking about a hybrid model? How are you approaching this? Virtual education?
Speaker 2: 02:32 Safety is the first and foremost for our students, faculty and staff. So any of our lecture classes will, will be virtual, will be complete virtual. But when it comes to things like nursing with, uh, the, the clinical practice that they have on campus in the labs with the mannequins or our labs, um, certain experiential learning, we're putting together a plan through our emergency operations committee, working with the County and the CSU to bring those classes on. Um, and to possibly have limited housing in our residence halls, uh, at, at a much reduced to occupancy. Again, with the idea of safety first moving forward. But we are planning on our campus to be ready for everything from completely virtual if the environment dictates that, um, to also, but, but primarily hoping that if the conditions are right and we can put the right safety measures in place, that we will have experiential learning classes on our campus, some limited housing. And also there are faculty research labs where the faculty you need to have access to move that forward. So those are some primary areas we're looking at right now. We're also looking at, uh, to the point you raised earlier about student successes. What are the technology needs of our students and our faculty and staff. And so when we look at that, um, moving forward, seeing how we can meet those needs, uh, virtually, and if there's any way that we can create spaces on campus for things like wifi and broadband or computer access,
Speaker 1: 03:56 do you mean that students would be able to come on campus to work online? Very possibly.
Speaker 2: 04:01 We're looking at even using our parking lots that have wifi, um, to possibly offer that at. Ron banned it when we closed in this spring. We distributed literally hardware and laptops, uh, to our students, faculty and staff that needed them. And then we also distributed some hotspots, but we still are finding that we do have people that, that were broadband is really the issue. And so, um, we're looking to see if we can create that, some of those spaces on our campus if needed as well as distributing the hotspots.
Speaker 1: 04:31 Right. For people that don't have online access. So now some students have said that universities should consider lowering tuition given that they're paying for in person instruction that they won't be getting. What, what do you think of that idea?
Speaker 2: 04:43 You, I think one of the misnomers here is that that um, offering a robust, uh, virtual experiences less expensive, we're going to be investing right now in making sure that we bring a lot of those services, that those, these provide a right into those students' homes where they are. And that's going to take a lot of work through the summer or we've already done a lot of work through the spring. So I think there's a misunderstanding there. By no means do we want to raise the cost to our students, but, but we're going to make sure that we deploy those dollars as they're intended for the students they're used in making sure they're successful.
Speaker 1: 05:16 However, they are not getting that in person, face time with professors. So what do you say to students who are saying that online learning is not as effective for them?
Speaker 2: 05:26 You know, they're, they're actually, uh, um, in the university I came from, one of the things that I would, uh, would say that there was robust online learning service, uh, services and individual time with faculty and staff. And I have seen that, uh, many times over here already on our campus now. We yet we are still learning and what we continue to learn over the summer. But I would say to our students, we're gonna do everything we can to make sure that you have that connection that you have, that it may not be in the same office, in the same place, and that you have that time with the faculty and staff that you need and that instruction that you're looking for to make sure that you're successful. That's part of the hallmark of Cal state San Marcos. And we're going to do everything we can to make sure that that continues in this new, in this new day.
Speaker 1: 06:16 So for people who are coming back to campus, what kind of changes might they see or expect to work in? Well,
Speaker 2: 06:22 if you're, if you're coming back to campus, we've got, we've already got some, um, essential workers on campus now and so there'll be safety protocols coming in as far as everything. We're working with the County from temperature checks to, to, um, testing, uh, looking at how we would do contact tracing and then you'll be fewer of us on campus. For those that do come on campus, we won't be creating some of those physical gathering spaces, um, that we are used to having in the past. But I will tell you that people have been very innovative on creating that, uh, connection. We just last Friday had a graduation parade with appropriate social distancing masks, uh, for anyone that was outside and the graduate state in their car with their families and sometimes their dogs and cats as they drove through the parade. So we're going to be looking at very innovative ways to make sure people still feel connected.
Speaker 2: 07:16 But all of it will look different. We'll have masks as we walk around campus and we won't be able to gather in large groups because we've got to put the safety of our students first. So we've got to be very creative in both the virtual and on campus environment to make sure that we create the most robust learning environment that we can. Our faculty are going to be, uh, working over the summer, um, on a new, uh, new ways and ideas about teaching online. But our student services and support are also working on new, innovative ideas to make sure that we stay connected and support our students.
Speaker 1: 07:49 Well, president Neufeld, thanks so much for your, a positive approach to this challenging situation. Thank you for having me. That's dr Ellen Neufeld, who is the president of Cal state San Marcos.