Much has happened since our last update just 2 weeks ago. We are now fully focused on preparation for the fall semester and what a return to campus might look like given current health and safety conditions in our area.
Before moving into the most current information we can provide, I’d like to take a moment to welcome our new Interim President, Dr. Antonio Tillis—from his first moments, he has been deeply involved in the complex conversations we face. As a key first step, he is leading our response to the COVID Response Task Force report which the Cabinet received on July 6. As recently communicated, the cabinet has accepted the conceptual framework proposed by the task force, and has built an action plan that is synchronized with the Harris County threat assessment color coding model. This is a result of the great work of the COVID Response Task Force. Leadership across the university are building out details of that action plan for their units right now. I have appreciated Dr. Tillis’s thoughtful engagement with us and I look forward to working with him and sharing all that is amazing about UHD. I hope you will also all have opportunities to get to know Dr. Tillis in coming months. On behalf of the entire UHD community, welcome to campus, Dr. Tillis.
COVID Task Force Work: The COVID Task Force has shared a set of recommendations specifically focused on a safe-return-to-campus strategy as well as some additional planning considerations. The work of this task force will continue to inform our planning, along with other data and most recent best practices from government, CDC, UHS, and our colleagues in the broader academy. Should you have questions or suggestions for the task force, please contact the chair, Cynthia Vargas at firstname.lastname@example.org.
International Students: We are elated that ICE agreed to rescind the policy barring international students from studying online this fall while in residence in the United States. If you or any of your students have any questions about the initial policy or this change of events please contact the Office of International Admissions at email@example.com and/or Bryan Nguyen at 832-534-3080.
Faculty Course Planning Resources for Fall: Dr. Johnson is coordinating conversation among the CTLE, TTLC (check out their latest newsletter), and Online Task Force this week in order to review current support and offer a collected set of information as faculty plan for fall. This discussion will include resources for students for all instructional modes. We will share some as soon as next week and in an ongoing fashion as we develop and curate these resources.
Communicating with Students about Fall 2020: As you communicate with students about the fall semester, especially course modalities, please ensure you are using the following terminology and encourage students to check the schedule for required meeting days/times. The Registrar created a helpful video regarding how to search the schedule:
- Online: Two types of online courses will be available: 1) synchronous: a fully online class with required regular virtual meeting times in which you will engage with your instructor and classmates in real time, and 2) asynchronous: a fully online class without set meeting times; you will complete coursework independently and by the assigned due date, engaging with classmates and instructor via a range of online strategies.
- Online Interactive: This fully online course type will allow you to meet at a scheduled time with your professor and classmates who are in the classroom in real time while you are joining online.
- Hybrid: This course type combines online and face-to-face meetings in the classroom. A portion of the class be online and you will complete the other portion during scheduled meeting times in the classroom, where masks will be required and social distancing guidelines followed.
- Face-to-face: This course type means that all class meetings will occur on campus in person at scheduled meeting times unless health and safety require otherwise; social distancing will be enforced and masks are required in all face-to-face classes.
We want to ensure students are receiving consistent information about the modalities and what each format entails. This will help minimize confusion and anxiety about the fall semester.
Syllabus Content: The Office of the Provost will coordinate with FSEC and the Online Task Force on a number of items for syllabi, including the following types of information:
- Face mask guidelines (requirements, enforcement, possible ADA exceptions)
- Additional ADA COVID-specific issues
- Best practices in Zoom (e.g., use of video as optional due to privacy and bandwidth, recordings, etc.)
- Possible changes to schedule, modality, etc. due to disruptions from COVID, natural disasters, etc.
- Reasonable response timelines from faculty to students
- Virtual office hours
- Plausible technology requirements
- How to handle disruptions specific to smaller contexts such as individual classes due to COVID exposure.
If you have specific questions/concerns related to course policies or related issues, please contact Senate leadership and Michelle Moosally. We will try to address as part of our discussions.
Accessibility: Please continue to include accessibility of front-facing materials in your fall preparations. We continue our commitment to good faith efforts to meet some minimum targets with our BB Ally tool (65% green or no red), while recognizing that there are still challenges and exceptions to collect and address. Please share any of these issues via our BB Ally hotline: Elizabeth Wade (firstname.lastname@example.org or 713-221-8288) and go to the IT page .
Technology for Students: The University will again make an effort to support student technology needs—we are currently assessing our resources and will establish a process for students to apply for technology to support their learning. On-campus resources will also be available to students, subject to health and safety restrictions—messaging will be developed to notify faculty and students about what campus resources will be open and when.
Regardless of our efforts to support student technology needs, we anticipate that students will have varied types and levels of technology. Thus, as you plan your fall classes, please remember these potential limitations, particularly if your class requires proprietary software typically available on campus.
Finals and Testing: As noted in recent communication, students will not return to campus after Thanksgiving. Thus there are several related issues:
- There will be no in-person testing capacity.
- We will develop guidelines to ensure that final exam testing periods are distributed for students given the large number of online classes for fall. In general, best practices for online testing suggest a large window of availability, though the actual completion window can be restricted (e.g., exam is available for 24 hours, but once they start, they must finish within two hours). The larger window provides time for you and the student to address any technology issues that may arise as well as gives some flexibility to the student for scheduling.
Test integrity remains a significant concern; at this time, Respondus lockdown monitor remains an option, but flexibility will be required due to the technology issues: Test Security and Use of Respondus – Issues to Consider.
For classes with in-person meetings, you will need to specify in your syllabi how classes will be conducted after Thanksgiving (synchronous same times or asynchronous).
Updates Regarding Dr. Khoja’s Areas
With Dr. Khoja’s departure and given the current hiring restrictions, we have reorganized a couple of areas in the Office of Institutional Effectiveness (OIE) and reallocated the responsibilities of the AVP of Academic Affairs to ensure that our work continues uninterrupted. Below is a brief description to help direct your queries—as always, feel free to contact anyone in the Provost’s Office with questions.
The portfolio of work done by the team in OIE has been grouped into three offices, each lead by an Executive Director:
|Office of Assessment and Accreditation (OAA)||Executive Director, Dr. Lea Campbell||Provost (until AVPAA hired)|
|Office of Data Analytics and Institutional Research (ODAIR)||Executive Director, Dr. Nazly Dyer||Provost (until AVPAA hired)|
|Office of Impact Learning (to include Study Abroad and CCESL)||Executive Director, TBA (search to commence shortly)||AVP, Programming and Curriculum|
In addition, as part of this reorganization, Mr. Mik Yegiyan has been asked to take on additional leadership as Director of Institutional Data Analytics, and Ms. Taheshia Hobbs will be working alongside, and reporting to, Lucy Bowen.
I would like to thank Dr. Campbell and Dr. Dyer for their leadership. More importantly, however, I would like to thank each member of the OIE team for their flexibility and dedication. They are an outstanding team and UHD is fortunate to have them all on board.
Other areas currently reassigned:
|Faculty Credentialing||Jerry Johnson|
|Houston GPS||Michelle Moosally|
|MOUs and Contracts||Provost, Jerry Johnson|
|SACSCOC Liaison||Lea Campbell|
|THECB Liaison||Michelle Moosally|