Welcome to the first edition of Gator Impact—a monthly ASA newsletter that will deliver information and updates to faculty and staff on policy, pedagogy, grants, student resources, and other news and information from across academic and student affairs.
I anticipate a great year ahead. Summer enrollment was up over 20%, and as I write this we are up 3% in headcount for the fall semester. Many staff positions that were once frozen have been thawed and we’ll be welcoming numerous newly hired colleagues to our campus in the coming weeks. Meanwhile, we welcomed fourteen new faculty members to campus during UHD’s first virtual new faculty orientation in August. We have also brought new programs successfully through the approval process in recent months, and we’ll soon have students pursuing masters’ degrees in professional accountancy and in artificial intelligence on campus. These are the signs of a campus that is continuing to grow and thrive. There is much to be optimistic about, and proud of, here at UHD.
As we step into this semester let us embrace this season as an opportunity for continued growth, innovation, and ongoing dedication to our students and to the values of our institution. It will be a dynamic year. The search for the next president of the institution has commenced. In the coming days and weeks we will reengage our strategic planning process with the goal of publishing our bridge plan in early 2021. Across campus, our efforts to expand our programmatic offerings at UHD continue, with several additional graduate and undergraduate degrees in development. Staff and faculty are working together to make sure that UHD shows leadership and vision on diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts—putting time, effort, and resources into building a campus where social justice is not a phrase, but an action.
As I write this (on a Saturday morning) I am also reading tributes to Chadwick Boseman, trying to save two trees that were partially knocked down in my yard during a heavy storm that passed through my neighborhood last night, and trying to figure out how to get my two younger children—Natalie and Nolan—ready to physically return to their high school campus this coming week despite the ongoing pandemic. It is, in many ways, a melancholy morning. But this moment will pass: I will re-watch (for the third time) Black Panther, I will get the trees staked and upright, and the kids will head off to school wearing masks and carrying bottles of hand sanitizer. I know that every one of us is navigating similar situations—and many in the UHD community are dealing with far more complex and challenging circumstances than these minor struggles in the Link household on a Saturday morning in late August.
Let’s continue to support each other and our students. Together, we will accomplish great things at UHD this year. I look forward to seeing you—probably virtually, at least for a little while longer—on campus. Thanks for all that you are doing to make UHD a great institution.