Presidential Update to Staff
Grossmont held a virtual presidential forum April 30 with Dr. Nabil Abu-Ghazaleh on hand to share updates and address concerns or questions from college faculty and staff. His main update was on the budget cut and decline in enrollment since the COVID-19 pandemic hit.
While the college’s enrollment has been declining over the last few years, it is now down by 5.2% since Spring 2019. This is not necessarily due to the coronavirus, but because of the need for some to join the workforce or difficulty registering, the president said. At the time of the forum, about 1,299 students had dropped one or more courses, and 417 students dropped all their courses due to COVID-19.
Abu-Ghazaleh explained the leniency and support of many universities that students are transferring to because of the environment we are in, but made it clear: “We are not encouraging students to withdraw and take the EW … We are encouraging students to take the EW if they cannot maintain their enrollment. There is a difference in that nuance.”
Another important update was the financial deficit the Grossmont-Cuyamaca Community College District will face in the upcoming semesters.
“For this year, they are going to shorten the district by about $4.3 million district-wide because the state’s revenue is less,” the president said. This means Grossmont College will be taking a $2.3 million cut, causing the summer schedule to be dramatically reduced and hourly employees will only be paid for actual time worked effective May 8.
To deal with this, the college will limit the hiring of hourly workers, reduce section counts by about 7%, reduce travel, renegotiate contracts and reduce renovations.
Finally, the president gave a commencement update. While there is no physical way we can gather by the thousands in just a few months’ time, Abu-Ghazaleh emphasized the tone of the developing virtual
commencement will remain congratulatory.
“It’s painful,” he said, “but we need to do what we need to do, and we need to give to our students as good a farewell as we can, and that needs to be done.”
COVID-19 Grossmont Update
As of March 20, 2020, after Gov. Newsom’s stay at home order Grossmont classes and student support services transitioned online until the end of the Spring semester due to COVID-19. President Dr. Nabil Abu-Ghazaleh held a virtual presidential forum on Tuesday, March 31 with an update on the situation while addressing student and staff concerns.
The president is aware of the challenges that are now being faced while physical distancing such as the lack of access to campus resources for staff and students. He explains the strict rules. “We simply can’t negotiate with this virus.”
The president reminds the listeners of the hourly rapid changes in circumstances with this virus and its devastating impacts. During these times of uncertainty, it is important for Grossmont to remain certain in the continuity of education, and maintain student support. One significant update was the decision to have a virtual commencement versus the traditional on-campus commencement ceremony in June. Students will still be celebrated and congratulated however the form of an online celebration has yet to be determined.
“The idea of shaking hands with 700 students at five and a half seconds per student is not what today’s world requires or suggests and it would be somewhat irresponsible to think that in seven to eight weeks from now everything will be just fine,” said the president. “Medical science has not moved that quickly and I don’t think that would be a wise thing.”
Updates on summer classes are pending due to budget cuts at up to 15 percent and uncertainty of the financial standing of the school. The plan as of now according to the president is a delayed start to the summer session if its budget doesn’t cut into the core Fall and Spring semesters. He makes it a point that the standing of summer sessions is unclear at this moment. As of the upcoming Fall semester, it’s too early now to determine how it would be held.
There was also talk of extending the Spring semester to June 30 as an additional aid for students struggling with resources for online learning. Again, the president expressed it’s still too early and there is not enough knowledge yet to tell.
One student emotionally expressed her need for deadline extensions because she relied on technology at school, and is struggling to complete schoolwork. She also continues to work overnight and explains her instructors have denied her requests to extend certain schoolwork deadlines. The president is empathetic to the impact of her situation, he addresses how professors along with grading systems were instructed to have “maximum flexibility” with students during this time. As for technological resources, he encourages students in need to apply for available grants with up to $80,000 in grants. The president also became emotional when speaking on the struggles of students, parents and staff.
“I just have to think of the kid walking down the beach throwing sea stars back in the water,” said the president “no matter how big the beach and how large the ocean to the sea star that got thrown back in the water its life I’m inviting you all to the beach.” Although the hope is to eventually return on campus, Grossmont will continue to adapt, change and grow throughout this learning process, but like the president said: “this meteor does not un-hit once our world has changed it is going to be changed forever.”