President's Message: COVID-19 Update for March 20
Dear Students, Faculty and Staff,
Without a doubt, the past two weeks have presented the university, our families and friends with unprecedented challenges as a result of the Coronavirus (COVID-19). Every professional at UHD understands without equivocation the health risks posed by this pandemic and that it needs to be taken seriously. Recently, the decision was reached to keep classes online for the remainder of the semester and to postpone Spring Commencement for a date later in the summer or early fall. But let me be clear, the university will remain open with the minimum personnel needed to maintain its operational integrity.
These decisions were not arrived at lightly, but made with your safety and well-being first and foremost in mind. Below, I detail the additional measures my office and the UHD leadership is taking to protect and support all of the members of the immediate and extended Gator family. First, I want to acknowledge that the University received notification that an employee has tested positive for COVID-19. The employee is currently under medical care, and we wish our colleague a quick and complete recovery. We also will keep this person’s loved ones in our thoughts.
As directed by the Governor, the University is doing its part to not only protect its community, but to help flatten the curve and limit the spread of this virus in Houston. The latest actions taken to achieve these objectives include but are not limited to the following:
• Campus operations will go online starting March 23; Faculty and staff should be prepared to telecommute. Detailed information about telecommuting will be shared with employees via an email message from Employment Services and Operations.
• Only essential personnel should report to campus after today; essential personnel are those needed to maintain campus infrastructure including a limited number of individuals from the UHD Police Department, Facilities Management, Information Technology and the mail room.
• Library resources will be available online. However, physical access will not be available to the library or computer labs on campus.
• There will be limited access to campus. Faculty and staff needing access to the campus during this time must present a photo ID at the UHD Police Department in order to enter any university building.
Spring Commencement Postponed
• Spring Commencement is postponed until late summer or early fall (date to be determined).
• Eligible students will still graduate on-time despite this delay and diplomas will be mailed to graduates through the U.S. Postal Service.
Classes Online Starting March 23
• As previously announced, face-to-face courses will take place online for the remainder of the semester starting March 23.
• All UHD campus events and activities are canceled through the end of the semester.
Support for Students
• UHD is preparing to offer compensated telecommuting options to student employees (work study, non-work study). Detailed information will be communicated to student employees by their supervisors.
• If you are experiencing anxiety or stress because of COVID-19, please consider contacting Counseling Services by phone at 713-500-3852.
• Student Health Services will answer health-related questions by phone at 713-221-8137.
In spite of all of the challenges and changes taking place at UHD and across the country, remember that your health should be your highest priority at this time. Continue to practice preventative measures (hand washing, social distancing) and make smart decisions that keep both yourself and your families safe.
It has simply been a unprecedented few weeks, but the UHD leadership, faculty, staff and students are responding in an equally impressive way to this temporary situation. I’d like to offer my deep personal gratitude to those faculty and staff who have been working around the clock to ensure that course materials are ready for our students by Monday. I would also like to offer my support to our students who are preparing for a new learning opportunity and environment.
COVID-19 is the latest challenge faced by our University, and it certainly won’t be the last. Together, we will continue to adapt, adjust and categorically overcome this adversity.
Stay Strong, Gators.
Dr. Juan Sánchez Muñoz
The University of Houston-Downtown (UHD) – the second-largest university in Houston – has served the educational needs of the nation’s fourth-largest city since 1974.
As one of four distinct public universities in the University of Houston System, UHD is a comprehensive four-year university led by President Loren J. Blanchard. Annually, UHD educates more than 15,000 students; boasts more than 61,000 alumni and offers 45 bachelor’s, nine master’s degree programs and 16 fully online programs within five colleges (Marilyn Davies College of Business; Humanities & Social Sciences; Public Service; Sciences & Technology; and University College).
For the fourth consecutive year, U.S. News & World Report ranks UHD among universities across the nation for Best Online Criminal Justice Programs (No. 27 and No. 15 for Veterans) and Best Online Bachelor’s Programs.
UHD has the most affordable tuition among four-year universities in Houston and one of the lowest in Texas. U.S. News ranked the University among Top Performers on Social Mobility and awarded UHD a No. 1 ranking as the most diverse institution of higher education in the southern region of the U.S. The University is noted nationally as a Hispanic-Serving Institution, Minority-Serving Institution and Military Friendly School. For more on the University of Houston-Downtown, visit www.uhd.edu.