Our students have finished finals, faculty are wrapping up grading, and all of us are preparing for a well-deserved (and much needed) holiday break.
I am proud of how we, as a community, approached the Fall 2020 semester and I am looking forward to what will be a wonderful Spring 2021 semester. It may be winter now, but spring is coming, and with the coming of the spring we are hopeful for great improvement in our pandemic mitigation because of the new vaccines. We will have welcomed new leadership to campus in several key roles, and we’ll have hired dozens of new faculty members for Fall 2021 starts. Perhaps, by the end of the spring, or maybe at the beginning of the fall semester, we’ll be able to once again gather on the south deck or sit side-by-side in the auditorium, or take meetings in person rather than by Zoom. Better times are coming.
This past weekend we celebrated the graduation of 3812 students—all now proud UHD alumni—who received their degree during 2020. This was the University’s 68th Commencement. Our students were able to gather with their families for a virtual ceremony. I understand that this was not the ideal or long awaited celebration that many of our students and their families imagined but the celebration was an exciting and memorable event because of the thought and dedicated efforts of the faculty and staff who pulled it together.
This year the University of Houston-Downtown ranked No. 3 in list of most affordable institutions in TX with online offerings. I am proud of this ranking, for it highlights our commitment at UHD to providing quality academic programming within the context of a thriving campus while keeping our tuition rates very low. Access to affordable education is essential in Houston and across the nation, and we are dedicated to creating pathways to a college degree that are open to everyone.
With student debt soaring in the United States and reaching crisis-level proportions for some students across the country, UHD is at the forefront of trying to keep costs and student indebtedness as low as possible, so that our graduates can embark on their lives and careers without the weight of excessive student loan debt. I look forward to seeing all of you in the New Year. As noted in President Tillis’s recent letter, the university will remain in “Step Two—Orange” through the holiday break and into the first week of January. By January 8th, we anticipate sending out additional information about what the response-level will be at UHD when classes begin on January 19th.