By Caden Merrill, Oct. 5, 2021

During its first meeting of the academic year on Sep. 29, Cal Poly Pomona’s Academic Senate confirmed the majority of spring 2022 classes would be taught physically in the classroom, reverting back to a traditional face-to-face modality.

This confirmation comes after the campus fell short of its goal of 51% of fall courses including at least some in-person components, with 47% of fall semester courses being offered as hybrid or entirely in-person.

Interim Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Iris Levine elaborated on the situation, cementing the fact that spring 2022 would mark a turning point in the university’s readjustment to teaching and upholding its mission in a post-COVID-19 environment.

“For spring 2022, we are asking that all programs offer at least 51% of their schedule in a face-to-face modality,” Levine said. “The good news is that right now, our schedule has nearly 81% of in-person or hybrid classes. The Office of Academic Programs will soon announce an approach for thoughtfully defining each program’s curriculum so that we will be in line with what we are approved to offer.”

On-campus study spaces were one of the first in-person activities sanctioned by the university amid the pandemic. (Joshua Hernandez | The Poly Post)

The upcoming winter 2022 intersession would be the last academic session to have most of its classes taught in a hybrid modality, as most Cal Poly Pomona classes are currently operating.

In other business, the Academic Senate agreed to add more tenure-track faculty to Cal Poly Pomona’s Counseling and Psychological Services, with 87% of the Senate voting in favor of the resolution.

Brought forth by Hanna Lee, clinical psychologist and CAPS tenured faculty member, the resolution suggests more tenure-track faculty should be hired at CAPS to help combat rising cases of mental health issues among students.

“I was brought on as a tenure-track faculty for CAPS 10 years ago; I did not know at the time that I would be one of the last,” Lee said. “Since then, we have encountered significant difficulty adding more tenure-track faculty members to our department, which has directly impacted the services we can provide to our students.”

Particularly in recent years, the positions the counselors and therapists employed at CAPS have held have mostly been transitory and temporary, resulting in high turnover rates and hindering more qualified and experienced psychological professionals from being hired and retained.

With the COVID-19 pandemic causing turmoil, which has threatened millions of people’s mental health, Lee is not alone in thinking that hiring more tenure-track faculty is essential for students’ wellbeing.

“We are trained to help our students through the most painful, difficult situations. That is what we do; that is our call in life. We do it with love and passion,” CAPS therapist Maria Gisela Sanchez Cobo said. “We help the students and provide a safe space so that they can show up in the classroom to do what they are meant to do in this institution: learn. It is time to help CAPS so that we can continue supporting our students. Honestly, the students deserve it.”

CLASS Sen. John Lloyd, a professor in the History Department, agreed.

“So many of our students, especially during this time of COVID, have struggled with death in their families and financial struggles,” Lloyd said. “I express my appreciation for our CAPS professionals here on campus who do a tremendous job helping our students, and that is really what this is about.”

Regarding other matters, Vice President for University Advancement Dan Montplaisir and Director of Events & Special Projects Helen Yniguez presented early details on the upcoming 2022 commencement ceremonies. To comply with health and safety protocols, there will be more ceremonies than in past years to prevent crowds from exceeding capacity restrictions. The university plans to implement a ticketing system to keep attendance numbers in check.

Specifically, over the third weekend in May, the university will host 12 commencement ceremonies, evenly dividing out to four ceremonies per day, occurring at 8 a.m., 11:30 a.m., 3 p.m. and 6:30 p.m.

Each college will have its own corresponding time on its assigned day. On Friday, May 20, 2022, the College of Education and Integrative Studies, the Collins College of Hospitality Management, the Don B. Huntley College of Agriculture and the College of Environmental Design will host their ceremonies.

On Saturday, May 21, 2022, the College of Business Administration and CLASS will host their ceremonies during the former two times and the latter two times.

Finally, on Sunday, May 22, 2022, the College of Engineering and the College of Science will host their two ceremonies in the same fashion.

The next scheduled Academic Senate meeting will occur on Oct. 20. For those interested in attending or participating and for more information about the Academic Senate itself, details can be found on the Senate’s website.

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