Campus Conversation Recap: 80% of in-person classes will return for Spring 2022


Sebastian Artola

Associated Students Kaitlyn Orozco, top left, met with Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Mary Beth Walker, right, and Vice Provost in the Division of Academic Affairs Matthew Cahn to discuss the university priorities during a campus conversation on Oct . 26.

Sebastian Artola, Assistant News Editor

CSUN community members gathered on Oct. 26 for the second campus conversation of the semester with Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs Mary Beth Walker. The campus conversation, which is a monthly discussion with campus administrators, included questions that were submitted beforehand.

80% of in-person classes will resume in Spring 2022
A crucial component discussed in the meeting was the upcoming course schedule for the spring semester. Walker stated that the campus is looking to have about 80% of the courses on campus, either fully in-person or as a hybrid, where half of the meetings are in person. The rest of the courses will be fully online in the spring. Walker stated that the university will attempt to do away with classes that have infrequent class meetings.

Certain factors such as class standing, major and individual college will determine which classes are offered either online or on-campus, according to Walker. She estimates the number of people on campus next semester to be up to 13,000 — down from the standard 18,000 people on campus. This is because some departments on campus will continue to alternate between virtual and in-person activities.

When asked about some students’ wishes to have the spring semester online, Walker stated that the individual colleges make those decisions. However, she said it’s likely that classes offered online will primarily be lower division because these classes offer more flexibility than upper-division classes, some of which may require hands-on practicum classes.

If the state of the pandemic worsens, the university will pivot back to online classes, according to Walker.

During the fall semester, over 90% of students and employees attested to being fully vaccinated, according to Walker. This percentage has been verified by the self-certification that students and employees completed at the end of September, according to Vice Provost Matthew Cahn. The remaining students and employees with medical or religious exemptions undergo weekly testing.

As of Oct. 29, there have been 288 students, 159 employees and 14 independent contractors who have tested positive for COVID-19 at CSUN since March 2020.

When it comes to the Student Recreation Center and the Oasis Wellness Center, Walker said that the use of those facilities will continue to be allowed for unvaccinated students as they undergo weekly testing.

Across all campus buildings, there is improved ventilation that allows for better air quality, which creates a safer environment. Walker also mentioned that while people have reported positive cases of COVID-19 in different areas of campus, it has not led to widespread transmission of the virus.

Strict cleaning protocols will remain in place for the spring semester. In addition, Cahn indicated that there will be various hand sanitizer stations around campus.

On academic advising and other services
Walker said that the university has an opportunity to improve student advising in the upcoming semester. She agreed with student concerns about finding an advisor in a timely manner and admitted that the administration needs to do better. She said there will be more academic advisement on-campus, along with online services in the spring semester. The university plans on hiring more advisors.

“We are ramping up the capacity in that area, because we know how critical it is,” Walker said.

Students have indicated that they would like to keep some virtual services in place, such as academic advisement and counseling. Walker acknowledged that managing the current health crisis of the pandemic is a dynamic process and that the campus will provide a clear update before the start of the semester.

When it comes to commencement, the plan is to have an in-person ceremony next semester. This plan is subject to change.

On faculty diversity
In a follow up to a topic from the last campus conversation, a question was asked about how the university could diversify its faculty to represent the student population. According to Walker, plans are underway to implement a completely rebuilt recruitment plan. This will include more training for search committees, wider advertising and enhanced understanding of the entire process, including highlighting the university’s focus on diversity.

Walker noted that this decision is based on extensive research that has been done by the university. It is the first step of a larger process that will be fully implemented next year. This process will include methods to create more diverse hires, as well as retention, according to Walker.

A campus roadmap to the future
Students who want to voice their opinions and be a part of the conversation of how the university moves forward are asked to participate in CSUN’s plan, Road Map to the Future.

Based on discussions with students, faculty, staff and alumni, the Road Map to the Future aims to advance the university’s priorities that include equity, inclusion, justice, student success and shaping CSUN’s culture and fostering community. The Steering Committee, which is led by Walker, is in charge of executing this plan, and is looking to work with the CSUN community by exchanging ideas and finding common ground on how the university should move forward.

This means evaluating various aspects that affect the community, having several conversations about the roadmap, and setting campus priorities for the next decade.

The final draft of the road map will be finalized by the end of the spring semester, while its implementation will begin in the summer of 2022.