Welcome back and Happy New Year!
We are only one month into the New Year and already much has happened. As a nation, we have witnessed the transfer of power from one president to the next, and the gator community is now preparing to welcome Dr. Loren Blanchard to campus in mid-March. Let me take this opportunity to thank Interim President Tillis for his service to UHD—he joined us mid-pandemic, and has provided steady and dedicated leadership during his administration. I know I speak for all students, faculty, and staff when I say that we are thankful for his leadership and we wish him nothing but success in his next adventure. Thank you, President Tillis.
Yes, the pandemic is still causing significant disruption to life on the UHD campus, highlighted by the fact that out of a sense of caution, and in an effort to keep the density of students on campus as low as possible right now, classes will remain fully online till March 1st. However, I look forward to the resumption of on-campus instruction as soon as possible this spring, and I am looking forward to a fall semester where the widespread use of the vaccine will hopefully make it possible to reopen campus fully. Till then, please continue to stay safe, wear a mask, and social distance.
Despite the ongoing challenges of the pandemic, I continue to be inspired by the heart of our community. Even during the turmoil and uncertainty of the past month many of you have found ways to give back to fellow gators and to support the local community in new ways. Thanks to the dedication and creativity of colleagues in Student Affairs, the Food for Change Program continues to provide students access to the food they need through contactless pick-up. Meanwhile, the great tradition of the UHD GatorServe program was able to continue—modified through masks and social distancing and other safety precautions—and on MLK day volunteers were able to help the Japanese Gardens at Hermann Park and Mission Milby Community Center Garden in the East End.
In this spirit, let us as a community embrace this New Year as an opportunity to uphold the mission of our institution and work together to make a positive impact on our community at UHD, in Houston and beyond.
Please know that UHD is here to support all of you and offers a variety of services to encourage your wellbeing – which can be found HERE. Additional counseling services have been made available to faculty, staff, and students.
Thank you for all that you are doing. Have a great and rewarding spring semester.