I know that we are all still recuperating after the winter storm and resulting power and water outages. Each time this city is hit with a disaster I see the compassion, generosity, and neighborly support shown around our community. Houston is a truly vibrant and resilient city, and so is our Gator community.
Despite the storm, offices around campus have remained hard at work and this past week leadership across Academic and Student Affairs came together—virtually—for the Spring 2021 Leadership Council. That meeting was accompanied by a written report detailing many of the activities going on across ASA at the institutional level. This month’s newsletter focuses on updates provided in that Leadership Council report and in the presentations given at the meeting.
A few key items of note in this report include:
The reporting of historical gains in summer 2020 and the all-time record enrollment set in fall 2020 have been followed by increases in both headcount and SCHs in the current spring 2021 semester. UHD is up close to 4% in SCH production this spring. This is a significant achievement for all involved, and signifies the ongoing value of the programming we offer here at UHD.
The spring semester began fully online and will remain online until March 15th (as mentioned in Interim President Tillis’ memo). The week before spring break another university wide memo will be sent stating how the remainder of the spring semester will be conducted. Spring commencement exercises in May 2021 will be virtual out of caution—plans are underway to make it a fantastic virtual event—and we are hopeful for a great, celebratory, in-person commencement in December 2021.
Numerous faculty and staff hiring initiatives are underway. Faculty searches are being conducted this year that will lead to one of the largest incoming classes of full-time faculty in several years. We have welcomed Dean Meritza Tamez into her new role as Dean of Students, we have welcomed Daniel Villanueva into his new role as Vice President for Enrollment Management, and Dr. Poonam Gulati has been named the inaugural Executive Director of the new Office of Impact Learning. Searches for the next dean of the College of Humanities and Social Sciences and the next Associate Vice President for Academic Affairs are both in the interview stage, and we hope to have successful appointments to both of those positions within the next five or six weeks.
Summer 2021, the expectation is that the majority of our academic programming will be online, with occasional F2F and hybrid/flex sections offered when necessary for pedagogical reasons. We anticipate that all current health and safety measures (mask wearing, social distancing in the classroom) will still be in place during the summer session. Therefore, any limited F2F programming should use the COVID caps for classes scheduled in classrooms. Deans will work directly with department chairs and faculty to assemble a suitable and strategic slate of summer offerings.
For the planning of Fall 2021 the expectation is that campus will be fully open and all classrooms will be in use this fall. However, out of caution, given the current uncertainties about when the region will be in a clear post-pandemic operational position, for all classes that have an in-person component, we will hold enrollment at the current COVID-caps in our initial build of the fall schedule. We also ask that departments/colleges take full advantage of the Flex classroom spaces in order to preserve standard enrollment caps while maintaining social distancing in the F2F components of the class. As the spring and summer progress, if conditions suggest that social distancing will no longer be necessary, we will ask departments to raise caps accordingly.
We have much to be proud of as we continue to uplift and empower our students and the Houston community. The work we do across the institution is essential in the lives of our students, our communities, and our disciplines.
Thank you once again for all that you are doing for UHD, and have a great rest of the spring semester.