Office of the President
I am writing to update you regarding steps we are taking that impact university operations for the coming months and academic year. As you likely know, last week Georgia’s shelter-in-place order was lifted for the general population. In addition, the state directed the University System of Georgia to plan an annual budget containing 14 percent less funding from the State of Georgia beginning July 1. Both changes require planning that is practical and strategic.
While the removal of the shelter-in-place order does not change university operations immediately, it marks the beginning of the transition to a so-called new normal where life, work and education will be conducted differently from the past. We continue to live with the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, and must anticipate that preventive measures and social distancing will be the norm for the coming year.
In accordance with University System of Georgia guidance, we have created multiple task forces to develop plans to return to full operations while aiming to preserve the safety and health of our university community. In the weeks ahead, we will announce a phased plan that details how university employees will return to our campuses this summer as required to resume key operations and prepare for the fall semester. Concurrently, we are developing our plan to resume fall semester operations under a framework provided by the University System of Georgia.
Our objective is to strike the appropriate balance between social distancing measures, such as teleworking and online learning, and achieving our core missions of education and research at the highest levels possible. We intend to once again be working on our campuses and educating in face-to-face settings, while also employing new policies and practices to ensure our campuses remain safe.
As we plan a return to full operations in the fall semester, we also are strategically working on how to operate effectively with less revenue. How much less will not be known until the state budget is finalized and we receive our allocation from the Board of Regents. We did, however, experience a similar reduction in state funding in 2009, and then, as it is now, our approach was strategic and targeted. Coming out of the Great Recession, Georgia State experienced an unprecedented period of growth and recognition. With fewer resources available to us we became more innovative, and we made cuts where appropriate while carefully investing in our future.
While difficult, those changes are why we are now nationally recognized for innovation, our commitment to undergraduate education, having one of the fastest growing research portfolios in the nation. In preparing Georgia State’s budget for the coming fiscal year, we will draw on our culture of innovation and strategic budgeting to ensure we deliver on our commitments to excellence in education and research.
This is a time of great uncertainty, and such uncertainty can be highly stressful. I promise to keep you informed as we arrive at greater clarity on the path ahead, in terms of the budget, fall semester classes and our work environments. I will not, however, engage in false optimism or empty promises. The virus that causes COVID-19 presents extraordinary challenges that require us to be nimble and adaptive.
Our Georgia State community has demonstrated through the years that we are innovative and possess the grit and determination to rise above every challenge that has come our way. We will do so again. Georgia State will provide the best possible educational experiences for our students, and we will perform our research and university operations at the highest possible levels while also employing appropriate public health protocols to ensure health and safety.
Please be safe and stay well. There are difficult times ahead, and it is in challenging times that the very best of our Georgia State community shines through. Thank you for all you do to make Georgia State unique and important to the future of higher education.