Friday—California State University, Dominguez Hills (CSUDH) was the first of 23 CSU campuses to publicly welcome the newly appointed CSU Chancellor, Joseph I. Castro. During the virtual press conference, CSUDH President Thomas Parham candidly stated, “You will not find a more committed leader to student success than Joe Castro.”
This fall, California State University (CSU) campuses plan to return to in-person education and reopen a majority of classes for in-person, hybrid or virtual instruction. During the virtual press conference, Chancellor Castro described a fistful of arrangements to reopen campuses as well as his goals moving forward.
Prior to his new position as chancellor, Castro served as president of CSU, Fresno (CSUF), and during his tenure, Castro notably led CSUF to be a national leader in recruiting, as well as graduating students from diverse backgrounds.
Castro is the eighth chancellor, and the first California native and first Mexican American to be appointed to oversee the 23 CSU campuses—succeeding Timothy P. White who retired from the position.
“I plan to visit all the 23 campuses over the next year or so; initially, that will be virtually and then over time (when it’s safe), I look forward to doing it in-person,” Castro briefly mentioned in Friday’s press conference.
Despite his past success as CSUF president, Castro’s new position as chancellor has arrived during a global pandemic, a vast moment that tragically took the lives of millions in less than a year.
CSUDH President, Thomas Parham stated, “One of the students [Castro] had a chance to meet today [was] a former student and now alumni—who is now physician on the frontline, [and] that is indicative of what we try to do Dominguez Hills. What we do at Dominguez Hills is we transform lives that ultimately transforms America.”
Castro plans to admit a new protocol relevant to retaining student and faculty safety under annual state appropriation. Briefly noting that, “We received good news this week from the governor and legislative leaders. They have agreed to restore the 299,000,000 million dollars that was cut in this current year budget, and that’s very good news for Dominguez hills,” said Castro.
Reference to last summer’s budget cut due to COVID-19-imposed impacts to the state’s economy for the 2020-21 fiscal year, which originally ceased all new hires and also led to non-essential layoffs.
Chancellor Castro said, “We’re one of the best values in the country, and I believe that the return on all investments is very high. President Parham and I are ecstatic about that and it is great news for all of our campuses. In addition to that [Governor Newsom] has pledged other permanent funding, and so we will receive according to his plan, at least 444,000,000 million new recurring dollars in the budget proposal.”
The Chancellor also described the Graduation Initiative of 2025 as “one of my highest priorities.” A plan to increase graduation rates and eliminate equity gaps in college degree completion, ultimately to meet California’s needs in today’s workforce. He stated, “We have been making terrific progress in meeting those ambitious goals at each campus and across the system. I feel confident that with further investments we will meet those targets.”
Furthermore, he assigned a new committee to accelerate progress relating to equity gaps; such as, The Federal Pell Grant, which is usually awarded to undergraduates whose families have a total income of up to $50,000. Though, in many cases Pell grant money goes to students with a total family income of below $20,000. Castro said, “Especially, as it relates to eliminating equity gaps, and those that relate to students from underrepresented backgrounds who received Pell Grants and who are still at many campuses not graduating at the same time as other students. So, we’re going to work on that across the system, building on the great efforts that have already taken place.”
With CSU Campuses set to reopen in the fall, Chancellor Castro highly encourages students and faculty to get vaccinated, “As we have announced before our intention is to have a majority of our courses in-person throughout the system when we get to the fall. Our success in doing that depends on adequate vaccination inspiring our student, faculty, staff and their families to get vaccinated… keeping everyone safe [and] following all the appropriate guidelines,” said Castro.
The CSU system plans to work with the University of California (UC) system and the Community Colleges (CC) system to create marketing campaign and on campus vaccination, with hopes to “maximize the opportunity for [campuses] to repopulate at a higher-level overtime.”
Chancellor Castro stated, “As of two days ago, 16 of our campuses were either approved or are in approval process to provide vaccination or will partner with local public health agencies to offer facilities for vaccination distribution; and there are ten currently operational, including the federal community of vaccine center at Cal State LA, and that’s operated by FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) and our state.”
The chancellor noted that “however, “we [cannot] legally prohibit a student from getting their education or an employee from working” if they have not received the COVID-19 vaccine.