President's Message: Welcome to the Spring Semester
Welcome to the first week of classes in 2022! I’m looking forward to another excellent semester at the University of Houston-Downtown, one that will provide comprehensive academic and career preparation as well as lifelong learning opportunities for each of you. Being a part of UHD can be one of the most transformative and impactful decisions you will ever make, and I am eager to do my part to deliver on that promise.
Of course, while the beginning of a new year can be filled with exciting possibilities, I know many of you have questions about how the University will operate, given we are still living with the effects of the pandemic.
I recently made announcements to faculty, staff and students regarding spring 2022’s soft opening, which will last through Sunday, February 6. Just as we did last semester, we will follow this protocol to reduce the density of people on campus for the first few weeks.
For those of you who are already familiar with UHD, you know these procedures are easy and important to accommodate. For those of you who will be on campus for the first time this semester, know that these practices are put in place for your safety and well-being.
High-level components of our soft opening will include the following:
- UHD will remain open, with all student-facing offices maintaining both in-person and virtual office hours from Monday through Friday. Non-essential staff may be allowed to work hybrid schedules at their managers’ discretion, with remote work not to exceed two days per week.
- Face-to-face classes that meet twice a week will hold class in person at least once a week during this period. Classes that normally meet once a week should also plan to meet weekly during this period. All online courses will be conducted as regularly scheduled. Faculty and students should use Gatormail to communicate if there are any questions about class schedules and expectations.
- Events scheduled during the first few weeks of the semester may be affected by the soft opening. Please check UHD’s Events Calendar for updates.
- Specific details on implementing UHD’s soft opening can be found online. If there is a need for clarification or additional information, please contact the Office of Academic Affairs at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Our news sites, UHD News and Gator Update, provide a wealth of information about events, updates and interesting news involving UHD – I recommend you check them frequently.
On Monday, February 7, we plan to return to normal operations. Again, I want to reassure you that UHD is using the utmost precaution to ensure your health and success.
We have many safety protocols in place, including hand sanitizer stations located throughout campus, daily cleanings of rooms and laboratories, Plexiglas barriers placed within highly congested spaces, and more. Also, we are consistently monitoring conditions from the local, state and national levels to make the appropriate adjustments when warranted.
As an extra precaution, we are encouraging masks, vaccinations and testing – all of which we provide for free. Masks can be found throughout our campus’ main corridors and areas of high foot traffic. We are holding a vaccination clinic from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., Thursday, January 20, in the Welcome Center, thanks to our partner H-E-B. Another partner, Curative, operates a COVID-19 testing kiosk on campus seven days a week from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., located beside the Jesse H. Jones Student Life Center.
I urge you to use these resources and services ... and use them often.
You have shown great resilience throughout the last few years. I appreciate your enthusiasm for the new semester and anticipate a robust spring with you.
UHD remains committed to your continued growth and well-being. I look forward to hearing about all the success stories and life-changing experiences you encounter this semester here at UHD.
Loren J. Blanchard, Ph.D.
President, University of Houston-Downtown