Building an infrastructure to support students online takes commitment, investment

Editor’s note: The following message was sent to Colorado State University students and families on March 30 from Provost and Executive Vice President Rick Miranda.

A lot about this academic year has not unfolded as planned amid the backdrop of a global pandemic. We are learning to adapt to being a virtual community and what that means for the college experience. And of course, we are all focused on the health and well-being of our loved ones, and doing our share to slow the spread of the virus while moving forward together.

With the shift to remote learning in response to COVID-19, we have received questions about tuition and fees, including whether or not CSU will offer partial tuition reimbursements for students enrolled in courses for Spring 2020, since classes are no longer being held on campus.  Since we anticipate completing the semester of instruction for all our students, tuition and fee refunds are currently not being offered.

(CSU’s refund and tuition adjustment policy will follow the university’s regular semester protocols which can be found here:  catalog.colostate.edu/general-catalog/financial/tuition-fee-adjustments/.)

Rick Miranda portrait
Provost Rick Miranda

Providing an online learning infrastructure virtually overnight

We have heard from some students and families the concern that virtual instruction is not as costly for CSU as in-person instruction. Please know that it is not less expensive for the university to make this shift to remote learning to ensure we continue to serve you and our mission of access and academic excellence. On the contrary, the university has invested an enormous amount of time and energy to develop comprehensive resources to support transitioning our courses online. Any cost savings that we might have had as a result of not using our instructional buildings are more than offset by providing the infrastructure to go online, virtually overnight.

Our faculty are working hard to provide remote learning experiences for you that allow you to achieve the learning outcomes you need this semester. Learning via online platforms is a different experience for students than in-classroom learning, of course, but online learning is proven and effective for most coursework. Colorado State University is committed to learning from the experience of this spring semester and to ensuring that in future semesters our faculty will be able to navigate even more exciting hybrid modes of learning. Our students will benefit from this investment!

Student services offered through online systems

As for student fees, they fund a package of services, spaces, support and opportunities for our student body as a whole. Many student-fee-funded programs will continue to be available to students throughout the Spring 2020 semester through online or other virtual systems, including CSU Libraries which have created new services and strengthened existing ones to support research, teaching and learning in a fully online environment (source.colostate.edu/csu-libraries-are-still-here-for-faculty-and-students/). Among other support, CSU is providing online services for students with disabilities, student government and organizations, mental health services, student legal services, interpersonal violence response and safety, career advising, services and education offered to students through Off Campus Life, guidance and tailored support provided to adult learners and veterans, and technology fees. In addition, the university is investing in additional resources to support our students in their success as we deliver academic courses online.

A message of gratitude

Our faculty and staff have done extraordinary work preparing for virtual teaching under challenging time constraints and with a commitment to maintaining academic excellence. I sent out a message of gratitude  to them last week for their tremendous efforts, and would like to share this excerpt with you:

My first thought is one of extreme gratitude – and amazement – as to how everyone has stepped up to the unique, once-in-a-lifetime challenge we all have. You have responded with grace, with expertise, and with lots of extra energy, and I am humbled by what I’ve been seeing and hearing “in the trenches” as our community has committed itself to maintaining our students’ learning momentum through the end of this semester (and beyond).

I also want you to know I am grateful to you, too, and proud of all you have done to make the transition to online so you could continue to pursue your academic goals and aspirations. It takes determination and courage, and I know your families are proud of you (we’ve heard from many of them). Move forward, knowing CSU faculty and staff are working with you, and doing all that we can to ensure your academic and personal success.

Stay safe, Rams.

– Rick M

Rick Miranda
Provost and Executive Vice President
Colorado State University