Office of the President

Planning for Fall Semester 2020

May 12, 2020

Dear Cal Poly Pomona Community,

At today’s CSU Board of Trustees meeting, Chancellor Timothy White addressed CSU’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic and laid out the necessary and responsible approach to planning for the next academic year – namely, that circumstances related to the pandemic require that each CSU campus prepare for fully virtual instruction in the fall. (You can read Chancellor White’s public statement here). While realities may allow a different result when the fall semester begins, this approach allows us the most flexibility and, most importantly, preserves as many options to continue learning and degree progress for as many students as possible.

Our campus has already launched a full-scale planning effort that prepares for a variety of scenarios dependent on guidance from public health officials. I am writing in follow up to Chancellor White’s remarks to provide information on these planning efforts.

Guiding Principles

Throughout our response to the COVID-19 pandemic, our top priority has been the health and wellbeing of the university community. Underlying that commitment remains our unending dedication to our academic mission: providing a one-of-a-kind polytechnic education with creativity, discovery, and innovation as its touchstones. I am proud of the outstanding efforts that our faculty have given in achieving instructional continuity and our staff in maintaining operations this spring. I also appreciate the impact and the resulting adjustments students made this semester in order to continue towards achieving their academic goals. Despite this historic disruption, Cal Poly Pomona has been and remains open thanks to the commitment and perseverance of our campus community.

Planning for Fall

While we were able to shift quickly to virtual instruction this spring, we are committed to ensuring that new and continuing students this fall receive the highest quality learning experience that is reflective of Cal Poly Pomona’s inclusive polytechnic approach. As Chancellor White noted in his remarks to the Trustees, even with the plateauing of infections and mortality in California, it is critical that we prepare for fully virtual instruction due to the potential for additional waves of infection in the summer and fall.  Additionally, regardless of what modalities we use in the coming semester, some students, faculty, or staff may not be able to safely or conveniently travel to campus.

Living up to our commitments as an institution of higher education will require spending the coming weeks and months in a concerted and campus-wide focus on bolstering our ongoing training and support for faculty and staff and enhancing our online teaching, learning, and student support offerings. In the case that we are able to transition to some in-person activities, we know that our investment in these efforts will only strengthen the multiple ways that our students access and experience their courses and campus services.  

To prepare for a potentially virtual fall semester, we are creating a comprehensive operational plan with a formal timeline and benchmarks. To help conceive and carry out the plan, we have created three working groups that will inform and direct our readiness in partnership with our campus Emergency Operations Center. These working groups are organized around our major stakeholder groups — faculty, staff, and students — to ensure that the distinct and mutual needs of our campus community are fully considered and addressed. The working groups are led by the following:


  • Sylvia Alva, Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs
  • Academic deans of the Colleges


  • Christina Gonzales, Incoming Vice President for Student Affairs
  • Terri Gomez, Associate Vice President for Student Success
  • Megan Stang, Executive Director of University Housing and Administrator-in-Charge for Student Affairs
  • Reginald Blaylock, Presidential Associate for Community and Campus Partnerships and the Student Experience


  • John McGuthry, Vice President for Information Technology
  • Nicole Butts, Presidential Associate for Inclusive Excellence and Diversity
  • Kimberly Allain, Associate Vice President for Employee and Organizational Development and Advancement

Each of these leaders are assembling a team representative of our campus community who will work together to identify key outcomes, action steps, and a timeline for assuring that we effectively use the summer months to prepare for a successful fall semester. As a central component of their efforts, the working groups will thoroughly engage with our Academic Senate, Staff Council, labor unions, Associated Students Incorporated (ASI), and other campus constituencies.

Our planning efforts go beyond instruction, and we will continue to inform the campus community regarding stay-at-home and remote work procedures and necessary safety and sanitation-related changes to our physical campus. Likewise, we are closely monitoring developments related to state funding and carefully planning in regards to budgetary impacts from the pandemic. We will continue to provide regular updates on all of these matters via email and on the CPP Health Alert website.

I know how hard each of you has worked this spring under very challenging conditions. This experience has tested our resolve and our ingenuity in countless ways. I know that with our collective commitment to thoughtful preparation we will deliver on our promise to our students and reignite in ourselves the true spirit of “learn by doing.”  Thank you.


Soraya M. Coley, Ph.D.