Chancellor Joseph Castro discussed budget, Graduation Initiative 2025 and pandemic safety

By Jizelle Saucedo, Feb. 16, 2021

In a Feb. 11 zoom press conference, California State University Chancellor Joseph Castro aimed the conversation toward the health and safety of students, faculty and staff during the pandemic, as well as the university system’s potential 2021-2022 budget and expectations for the CSU Graduation Initiative 2025.

Castro discussed the CSU 2021-2022 budget and intentions for restoring the $299 million funds cut from last year’s budget.

“Our priority is to make sure that we inspire our state-elected officials to reinvest in the CSU,” said Castro. “We have been very aggressive in our advocacy so far by involving our students, faculty, staff and alumni to restore the funding we lost last year.”

In response to the reduced funds in the previous budget, Castro explained his proposal of $365 million in additional resources to fund CSU Graduation Initiative 2025 and restore the $299 million. He also proposed a one-time fund of $565 million to upgrade classrooms and laboratories and complete deferred maintenance across the 23 CSU campuses.

Castro also covered his plans for CSU Graduation Initiative 2025 and his intention to close equity gaps and work closely with his colleagues to raise graduation rates.

“It is important to take into account what happened during the pandemic which can include potential learning loss, food and financial insecurities and other challenges that we are familiar with during this time,” explained Castro.

One way that Castro intends to move forward with the CSU Graduation Initiative is through the assembly of a steering committee that will meet through Zoom. Their objective is to identify strategies to reach higher graduation rates and close equity gaps to provide more opportunities for underrepresented students and students receiving a Federal Pell Grant.

“We are the largest and most diverse public university system in the country so I’d like the leverage the size and complexity as we look at different types of partners that will benefit our students, faculty and staff,” stated Castro.

On the topic of equity and enhancing students’ experience at CSU campuses, Castro stressed the importance of increasing diversity in faculty and the use of technology. With the upcoming fall semester eyed for a return to predominantly in-person instruction for some CSUs, he aims to prioritize the needs of the CSU community.

Considering that health officials have yet to release information about state health guidelines for the fall 2021 semester, Castro stated that it is still early to determine how the upcoming semester will look.

For now, the CSU system intends on acting accordingly once the guidelines become available when addressing the topics of mandating masks and the COVID-19 vaccine.

When asked if vaccines were required to return to campus, Castro said that the CSU cannot require vaccinations.

“Our goal is to inspire people to get vaccinated and accelerate the progress that we are already making,” Castro added.

With the wide distribution of COVID-19 vaccines and testing sights opening across 23 CSU campuses, including Cal Poly Pomona, Castro hopes to raise the number of people vaccinated and increase accessibility to stop the spread of COVID-19 before classes move back to in-person instruction.

“Ensuring the health and safety of all of our students, faculty, staff and communities is our first priority by focusing on ways that we can do that and support your continued success,” said Castro.

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