Georgia State University President discusses plan for the future

Georgia State University President Mark Becker delivers virtual message about Georgia State's future plans. Photo by Brooklyn Valera | The Signal

On May 26, Georgia State University President Mark Becker shared a video message to discuss Georgia State’s plan to remain safe during the summer and fall semesters, as well as an update to this year’s budget. 

The plan was created following the guidelines put in place by the Georgia Department of Public Health and the CDC.

“Our plans will be based on the guidance and will change and adapt as we learn more about the virus,” Becker said. 

During the summer, all courses will be online, and there will be access to the Downtown campus, but it will be very limited. Only essential workers will be allowed on all Georgia State campuses.

This month, Georgia State is allowing faculty and staff back on all campuses. 

However, not everyone will return to their normal schedules. 

“Decisions about operations, work schedules and facilities will be made by heads of academic administrative units,” Becker said. 

Faculty and staff will be contacted by their supervisors on who, when and how they’ll return to campus. 

Masks are expected to be worn in public areas and are required in elevators. There will be limited occupancy of at least four people in an elevator. 

Georgia State has also enhanced a sanitation plan that will be available in public areas for everyone to use. 

In the fall, there will be face-to-face courses. 

“We know students have a strong preference for face-to-face instruction, that is abundantly clear,” Becker said. “At the same time, we know we cannot populate our classrooms as we did this past fall.” 

On May 29, Vice President of Student Engagement and Programs Allison Calhoun-Brown sent an email to all Georgia State students about the plan for the fall semester.

According to Calhoun-Brown, Georgia State will be using a “blended learning” model, which will allow students to meet with professors while also following social distance guidelines. In this model, students will attend their classes in person once a week, and they will be expected to complete the rest of the week online. 

Courses will be offered from three categories: completely online, blended or entirely face-to-face.

“We also will offer a limited number of courses — such as some clinical, laboratory, practicum and small seminar courses — entirely face to face,” Calhoun-Brown said in the email.

Also in the fall, university residence halls and university facilities will be open to students under safety protocols.  

Georgia State’s budget is still undecided because the state’s budget has not yet been passed.

“The university budget will not be finalized until after the Georgia General Assembly passes Georgia’s budget, which may be in late June,” Becker said. 

There is a plan for a 14% reduction, which is about $40 million in funds to Georgia State. 

Since there will be a payment reduction, Georgia State is planning to eliminate hundreds of vacant positions, reduce its staff and implement a furlough system. 

The furlough system will follow the guidance from the University System of Georgia. 

There will be a temporary pay reduction, resulting from mandatory days of unpaid leave. 

The USG’s guidance starts with no reduction for the lowest-paid employees. The USG will establish payments based on employee’s income.

“I personally will take a 10% furlough reduction,” Becker said. 

According to USG, chancellors and presidents at every USG institution will take a 10% pay reduction that includes 26 furlough days for the year 2021.

Georgia State will limit new hiring, travel, events and activities for the upcoming semesters. 

“We need every member in our Georgia State community to do his or her part,” Becker said. “Not just in the work we do, but in showing every day how much we care about one another through our shared commitment of practices that assure the health and safety of every member in the Panther family.”