CSUB President Lynnette Zelezny recaps spring semester

Zeltzin Estrada-Rodriguez, News Reporter


  The Runner sat down with CSU Bakersfield’s President Lynette Zelezny to ask her some questions concerning the past year of learning during COVID-19 as well as what the future looks like for CSUB.  


  Q: How do you feel that you and your team have handled this hectic year? What have been the challenges? What have been the good experiences? 

  A: I am feeling very proud, to be honest with you. I’m proud of our students who have been so patient and resilient. I’m also proud of our team; our team has been incredibly dedicated to the priority of health and safety for our entire CSUB family and we’ve been very student-focused throughout it all. I’m feeling that there is a lot of hope coming into the year and a lot of excitement.  


  Q: How do you feel about where CSUB is now as we stand here at the end of Spring 2021 compared to where we were in Spring 2020? 

  A: So it’s really pretty amazing. I think  a lot of people thought that with the pandemic and all that we went through that CSUB would just stop in its tracks, but [that is] far from the truth. We have had a record year of enrollment. We’ve had record graduations that we’ll be celebrating…We have had record applications for the Fall, which is very unusual. Most of the universities in the nation saw a very strong decrease in applications for fall 2021; not here at CSUB. It’s really a testament to the fact that students are eager to continue their education and we’re here ready for that. So, I’m really proud of that. But, more than that, we had an amazing 50th anniversary. We also have had an amazing campaign year…highest gift in terms of amount: a 5 million dollar gift, that’s the largest in our history… it all went to academics…So I’m really proud of the year, despite the fact that it was a very unusual year. 


  Q: What can students look forward to next year? I know you’re saying that things are going to kind of start going back to normal, but what exactly does that mean? 

  A: Well, it’s more than kind of. We’ll have about 50% of our classes–that’s what we’re planning. We have a focus on freshmen getting that one on one experience. We have a focus on seniors and making sure they have a great senior year. We’ll have about 50% of students coming back to campus. Staff will be coming back to campus August 2nd to get ready to support our students. Faculty is already preparing for fall. Professional development is going to be offered to them, and they’ll be ready with some exciting, innovative pedagogy. And then not to mention co-curricular things; we are hopeful to open up the Student Recreation Center– I know that’s very important to students. Athletics will be back in competition, might be restricted audiences, maybe they will have to wear masks especially if we are in theIcardo center, but we are going to see a lot of engagement. And so I think the fall is going to be a really good entry with a lot of energy, and I think people are excited to come back… In the Spring, about 95% of classes will be face-to-face, 5% virtual for those who want that opportunity to have online. 


  Q: We received an email that said that students who are going to be coming in the Fall need to be vaccinated. What options can we offer to students who do not wish to be vaccinated? 

  A: So, we’re still having those conversations. This is a system-wide decision by Chancellor Castro. He is the leader of all 23 of the California State University systems, of which CSUB is but one. He alongside [President Drake] of the University of California system…came together to represent the 4-year public universities in California, and they made that joint decision…I do want to emphasize that of course there will be students, faculty, and staff that may wish to have a religious or a medical exemption and legally those will be respected. But we’ll have further discussions about those students who choose not to be vaccinated for whatever reason. But we’re really hoping that the majority of our faculty staff and students will be vaccinated because that herd immunity that you hear about on the news is pretty important to try and reach, and we’re getting very close in our nation and we’re moving forward everyday in the community so I hope folks will take advantage of the opportunity to get vaccinated. We’ll give you details as they come from the Chancellor and from President Drake. So, this is actually a big statement right; for anyone going to a UC for anyone going to any CSU, that [vaccination] mandate is going to apply to them.  


  Q: Our vaccination hub is closing soon, [correct]? 

  A: It is closing in a few weeks.. Over 40,000 people have been vaccinated at CSUB. That’s huge! And we really I think have been great partners to the community….We feel like we’ve done a great job with those who really wanted the vaccine; now we have to take the vaccine out to the people…We are [now] going to shift the resources from the medical staff that operates the mass vaccination site…the facility is what we give to the partnership, and then the medical partners do all the operations. So, they will now be focusing their nurses, their doctors, the staffing to go out to the communities. It does work actually very well for us because we want to get our student recreation center up and running, and that will take us a bit of time. So, I think the timing is really good.