Changes are coming to CSUN, here’s what you need to know


Shannon Carter

The University Library, formerly known as the Delmar T. Oviatt Library.

Sebastian Artola, Reporter

Over the past year, there have been numerous changes in the wake of the pandemic, including in our own community here at CSUN.

Amid all of the changes at CSUN, President Erika D. Beck’s administration is working on transitioning the campus into its next era, beginning with changes coming this semester.

Key figures of CSUN’s administration

Beck is not alone in her mission to oversee operations for the university. Several CSUN administration members are aiding her in this. Here’s a list of the major figures in CSUN’s administration this semester:

Mary Beth Walker, provost and vice president of Academic Affairs Walker has held her title since 2019. She is responsible for 3,000 faculty and staff members in Academic Affairs. The provost is also responsible for carrying out academic priorities for the university, implementing the direction of the curricula as well as allocating the resources to support each initiative. Walker works with department heads, academic deans, and other faculty and staff to ensure that students receive the highest quality of education. Walker has a hand in recruiting and retaining faculty to further support the direction of CSUN’s educational programs.

Colin Donahue, vice president for Administration and Finance and chief financial officer. Donahue, a CSUN alumnus, first came here to lead CSUN through its reconstruction period following the 1994 Northridge earthquake. He oversees several university sections meant to serve students, such as financial operations, facility construction and maintenance, police services and parking.

Natalie Mason-Kinsey, chief diversity officer. Kinsey, who previously worked for the Metropolitan Transportation Authority Bus Company and The City University of New York, has served in her role at CSUN since May 2018. Mason-Kinsey serves as a lead strategist in helping to create means for diversity and inclusion, according to her biography.

William Watkins, vice president for Student Affairs and dean of students, CSUN alumnus. Watkins has over 40 years of experience working with CSUN in different capacities, culminating in his appointment as vice president of Student Affairs and dean of students in June 2010. He oversees many things, such as leading different departments like the University Counseling Services, Klotz Student Health Center, Student Outreach and Recruitment as well as the Associated Students and Student Union. His role is designed to advocate for students and enforce the code of conduct.

Amanda Quintero, special assistant to the president for inclusive excellence. Prior to coming to CSUN, Quintero served as associate vice provost at CSU Channel Islands. Her experience spans 20 years working in advancing “educational equity and student success” at different levels. At CSUN, she works with the community to fast track a campus-wide strategy to create a healthy culture, improve retention and stop equity gaps.


Budget plans for 2021-2022

CSUN’s budget for the 2020-2021 school year was approximately $491 million.

Because of last year’s state budget cuts due to the pandemic, CSUN managed a $33-million budget deficit during the 2020-2021 fiscal year. Through a combination of operating-expense reductions, a hiring-chill and tapping into $20 million in university reserves, the university was able to manage the financial shortfall.

The administration anticipates a deficit of $4.2 million for the 2021-2022 fiscal year, according to CSUN’s Budget Planning Brief. However, the finalized budget has not been released to understand the overall impact to CSUN.

After the release of the budget, campus leadership will look over any effects on the general budget and consult with different parties before publishing the new budget, according to Edith Winterhalter, associate vice president for Budget Planning and Operations.

Winterhalter also mentioned that the reserve balance should be finalized soon.

Crucially, a big part of the budget for this upcoming year will be the continuation of the Higher Education Emergency Relief Funds, which is a part of the government’s Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act. Universities use the federal funds to provide emergency grants to students affected in the wake of the pandemic.

From March of last year to fall 2021, CSUN will have received approximately $265 million in emergency funding from the federal government — the most of any university in California. This is due to the fact that two-thirds of CSUN students are considered low-income and are eligible for federal Pell Grants. Additionally, CSUN is a Hispanic-serving institution and receives additional funding for its high population of Latino/a students.

The university has spent a portion of the emergency funding on technology improvements, health and safety measures, and making up for loss revenue due to the pandemic. Additionally, CSUN distributed $53.2 million in grants to students, according to the Los Angeles Times.

An estimated total of more than $137 million remains, in which $65 million will go toward direct student payments, while the use of the remaining funds will be determined by the university.

In addition, the school received a large gift from Mackenzie Scott and her husband Dan Jewett on June 15. The $40-million gift is meant to support “presidential agendas,” according to CSUN Today.

Donahue said the gift will be used to help advance equity to help promote student success. In addition, it is “separate from the General Operating Budget.”


President Beck’s Listening Tour Report

With her belief of “leading through listening,” Beck released her Listening Tour Report, compiled from her first 100 days as CSUN president. She discussed her findings from her conversations with members of CSUN’s community and her report showcased different themes.

The first theme was diversity on campus. While CSUN was praised for its diversity in different areas, she noted that more work needs to be done. According to the report, the university needs to hire more diverse staff to ensure diversity has a better foundation.

Another theme is student success. Beck said that while the campus community takes pride in the different resources CSUN provides to help students, many feel that what is needed is making sure students have the tools they need to be successful and a “call for redoubling efforts to eliminate equity gaps.” The community also indicated better efforts are needed to promote a growth mindset and celebrate CSUN’s diversity.

Through her tour, Beck found that with everyone’s different perspectives, she believes the community wants to help build a better future for CSUN. Beck stated in her listening report that she will take all of the feedback and work together with her staff in the fall.

Returning to campus in the fall

The CSU announced that the university system will require faculty, staff and students who are planning to come to campus to be vaccinated against COVID-19.

Earlier in the year, the campus put together the Fall 2021 Tactical Repopulation Team, which is co-chaired by Provost Walker and vice presidents Watkins and Donahue. The planning group consists of faculty, staff and students that set out to establish a plan to increase face-to-face instruction, student and academic support services, and other operations “that will serve as a bridge to an anticipated full return to campus for spring 2022,” according to Beck.

With the various health and safety protocols that will be in place, CSUN will be able to have both on-campus and fully-online learning environments, with more than 50% of class sections having some on-campus components in fall. Students can go to the Matadors Forward webpage, which features several links like the schedule of classes, which indicates if classes are meeting online, in person or both.

CSUN has different goals for the future and the leadership is now undergoing the process of making sure those goals are met.