Message to faculty and staff:
Current planning for fall 2020 semester, budget planning for 2020-21 and events

Posted on April 28, 2020

Dear Colleagues,

As the spring semester comes to a close and we prepare for final exams, we want to express our gratitude and admiration for how you have adapted to the unprecedented challenges of the last several weeks. Many adjustments had to be made, including the postponement of commencement ceremonies, and we thank you for your continued support and flexibility as we navigate this situation together.

We know that you have questions about campus plans for the fall 2020 semester. We want to share information with you as transparently as possible while we carefully monitor the evolution of the COVID-19 pandemic. (An abbreviated version of this message will be distributed to all students today, as well.)

Like other universities, we are preparing to make critical decisions for the 2020-21 academic year. The following information reflects our current planning, based on both public-health and budgetary considerations. We will update our coronavirus website as more details are announced.

In-person vs. virtual instruction decisions

We are working closely with our local and state public health officials and the California State University Chancellor’s Office to determine when we will resume in-person instruction. At this time, we do not have an estimated date. Some or all instruction for the 2020-21 academic year may be delivered via virtual instruction. Currently, Provost Jiménez-Sandoval and the deans are exploring various options, so that we’re ready to proceed once we determine the best option. We are monitoring the pandemic’s evolution in our region closely, and will make a decision about the fall semester as soon as there is enough information to do so. The health and safety of our students, faculty and staff will always be our top priority.

We recognize that many students, faculty and staff are eager to return to campus as soon as possible. When we do resume in-person instruction, it will likely be through a phased approach, with certain types of classes considered more appropriate to resume in-person than others. We will also likely make changes within classrooms and laboratories to observe public-health directives and guidance, such as increased hand washing, avoiding sharing equipment when possible, appropriate facial coverings and/or physical distancing.

Given that some of our students may not be allowed to travel in order to return to campus in the fall, we plan to continue to offer some virtual instruction, for some courses, as an option for fall 2020, even in the case that the campus returns to face-to-face instruction.

Decisions about broadly offering Passed/Not Passed (P/NP) or Satisfactory/Unsatisfactory (S/U) grading for the fall semester will be made according to CSU directives, informed by consultation with the Academic Senate, and will take into account the situation at the time.

We appreciate your patience as we weigh these factors and gather more information about what the circumstances may be like in the fall.

Tuition and student fees for fall 2020

In accordance with CSU policy, tuition and campus mandatory fees will not be refunded in the event that instruction is delivered by alternative means (virtual) for any part of an academic year. Even as CSU campuses, such as ours, have curtailed limited aspects of their operations in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, we are providing students with academic credit for courses taken and support services such as registration, financial aid and academic advising. Further, campus mandatory fees, such as the health fee that provides students medical and counseling services, will continue, as well.

2020-21 budget planning

The duration and impact of the COVID-19 pandemic are unknown at this time. The loss of revenue for many areas of our University has been significant, in particular for our auxiliary organizations (e.g. housing, dining and parking), and this will most likely continue through next academic year. 

It is important to note that the University has already taken several proactive steps to reduce expenses in the midst of this crisis, including pausing events and travel, and halting non-critical searches.

Further, the State of California has delayed its assessment of tax receipts, which will delay the final 2020-21 state budget allocation to the California State University until early fall. The Governor’s May Revision to the proposed 2020-21 state budget, which is expected around May 15, will help to guide our budget planning for next fiscal year, with the understanding that a more complete budget scenario will not be known until late summer.

In light of the significant fiscal impact COVID-19 is having on our state’s economy and the likelihood of reduced tax receipts, we have begun to plan for possible adjustments to the general fund budget proposed by Governor Newsom in January. To that end, we have asked each Division to significantly reduce its operating expenses and identify opportunities for additional administrative efficiencies and greater collaboration amongst all Divisions.

In addition, while our enrollment projections for next academic year are strong, it is vitally important that we remain fully engaged with our students — including through the summer — to support their continued academic success during this critical time for them, their families and California.

Events for summer and fall

With the uncertainty of the ongoing public-health situation, as well as possible budgetary constraints, Fresno State has extended the postponement of all in-person university events until August 1, 2020, and will reevaluate at that time. As such, planning for any future events should not occur until further notice.

While preparing for different scenarios, we are hoping for the best and remain committed to moving forward as a community. We admire your resilience and commitment to our academic and service missions during this extraordinary time.

With our four Principles of Community in mind — kindness, respect, collaboration and accountability — we will overcome this situation together, and Fresno State will emerge stronger and bolder than ever.

Sincerely,

Joseph I. Castro, Ph.D., M.P.P., President

Saúl Jiménez-Sandoval, Ph.D., Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs