April 24, 2020
To the Campus Community,
Each week of learning and working remotely brings new achievements and new obstacles. Through these ups and downs, it may sometimes feel like we are taking two steps forward and two steps back. With so much uncertainty, it can be challenging to remain motivated — in all aspects of our lives. However, persistence is vitally important. We must remain persistent in following the guidance from public health experts to slow the spread of COVID-19. Students must remain persistent in their pursuit of degrees and certificates, with a vision of realizing a better future for themselves and their families. Faculty and staff must remain persistent in our support of students, one another and our mission.
I am saddened to share with you that a CSUN employee has tested positive for COVID-19. Our thoughts are with this member of our campus community, who has not been on campus in more than a week. Consistent with the protocols for infectious disease response, anyone identified as having had close contact with this individual has been or will be notified immediately if they need to be isolated, self-monitor or self-quarantine.
COVID-19’s economic impacts have already been deep, and past history tells us that recessions have a greater negative impact on those with less educational attainment. Now is the best time for students to redouble their efforts to pursue their educational goals and even consider graduate degrees or certifications so that they will be more competitive and better prepared when the economy recovers. The fact remains that education levels the playing field and positions individuals for success. Now is not the time to step back from pursuing higher education. If anything, it is the time to persist and move with purpose toward completing degrees and certificates.
CARES Act Student Funding Update
We are working as quickly and efficiently as possible to connect eligible students with the CARES Act emergency funding. Our goal is that every eligible student with need will be able to access these emergency funds and continue their progress toward earning degrees. While we expected to launch an online application process this week, due to evolving guidance from the Department of Education, we are making adjustments and now expect to begin accepting applications next week. Eligible students should look for a communication from me with specific instructions on how to access the online application next week.
Planning for the Fall Semester
We continue our planning for multiple possibilities and instructional models for fall. With the health and safety of our campus at the pinnacle of our decision-making, we are guided by scientific data on COVID-19 and counsel from elected and public health officials with the city and county of Los Angeles, as well as the State of California and the CSU. The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health (LACDPH) held a briefing for colleges and universities this week outlining the different measures that will be necessary to offer face-to-face instruction. LACDPH expects to issue additional guidance in mid-May.
I understand and appreciate that students, as well as faculty and staff, want more certainty about our fall mode of instruction. That is why we are planning for multiple possibilities, including hybrid approaches. We all want to come back together as soon as it is safe to do so, and we expect to communicate more detail by mid-May, knowing that things can change depending on the regional and local circumstances.
Friday Moment of Sunshine
Long before we began to face the effects of COVID-19, we were moving to unveil a new online giving website that highlights the many areas of excellence and need across the university. Last week, we launched this website and shared it with our alumni and donors who have been instrumental in providing resources to the university. We also have been regularly communicating about other opportunities to support students, including the MataCare Emergency Fund and CSUN Food Pantry, both of which have been lifelines for many in our campus community. We thank all who have contributed to these efforts. Across the university, examples of persistence and innovation like these continue to flourish unabated. I encourage you all to continue these efforts, in whatever form they may take. One opportunity to do so comes from our partners at the Clinton Global Initiative that are providing grants of $2,000 to $5,000 to students for projects that address the COVID-19 pandemic. Finally, I hope faculty and staff saw the email this morning regarding our partnership with UC San Diego and will complete the survey to help us gain feedback on how we can continue to stay connected and productive.
Dianne F. Harrison, Ph.D.