UHD Community Receives Updates at Return to Campus Town Hall
This week, University of Houston-Downtown employees returned to campus and resumed pre-pandemic work schedules in preparation for the fall semester. Before the return to UHD, employees had the opportunity to receive updates on the status of campus and ask questions during the July 8 Return to Campus Town Hall.
Faculty and staff were invited to the session where UHD leaders addressed topics such as the Texas Governor’s executive order on facemasks and shared information about campus safety enhancements.
The event was moderated by Johanna Wolfe, Vice President for University Advancement & University Relations, and included insights from Dr. Michelle Moosally, Associate Vice President of Planning & Curriculum and Chair of UHD’s COVID-19 Task Force; Ivonne Montalbano, Vice President for Employment Services & Operations; Cynthia Vargas, Director of Emergency Management & Fire Safety; Mary Torres, Director of University Business Services; Dr. Daniel Villanueva, Vice President for Enrollment Management; Dr. Akif Uzman, Interim Senior Vice President for Academic & Student Affairs and Provost; Tim Rychlec, Assistant Vice President of Facilities Management; and University of Houston System Senior Assistant General Counsel Jennifer Bloom.
At the onset of the Town Hall, UHD President Loren J. Blanchard welcomed attendees and expressed his enthusiasm at UHD resuming in-person operations and encouraged safety as a priority when returning to work.
“While I look forward to seeing everyone back on campus, I want to ensure that we continue to not only work hard … but work smart,” he said. “Let’s continue to make the best decisions regarding health and safety on campus … to not only benefit ourselves … but others in our community.”
Moosally followed his welcome with a presentation outlining what to expect when returning to campus.
Moosally reminded the UHD Community that masks are no longer required, per Governor Greg Abbott’s Executive Order 36. However, persons who wish to continue wearing masks may still continue to do so. Social distancing measures are no longer mandatory, but community members are encouraged to pay attention to their safety and proactive personal accountability in safeguarding their well-being.
“Since more students will be in classes, we have taken safety measures in the classroom, such as shields and posting the safety procedures in classrooms and on the UHD website,” Moosally said.
With regards to health services, it was announced that H-E-B will offer free COVID-19 vaccines in the UHD Welcome Center from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Aug. 26 (first dose) and Sept. 17 (second dose). Those interested are encouraged to register. Also as a free service, UHD continues to partner with Curative to offer COVID-19 testing at a kiosk outside the Jesse H. Jones Student Life Center. Employees or students who are not feeling well are encouraged to stay home. In cases where someone tests positive for COVID-19, they should follow UHD’s COVID health protocols.
Moosally also spotlighted campus health safety enhancements that include hands-free door openers in restrooms, hand sanitizer locations and Plexiglas barriers installed throughout campus. Enhanced cleaning also is being conducted nightly on campus.
The full opening of campus also brings changes in some services auxiliary services. Dining hours for Starbucks, Burger713 and the Gator Bite Café will offer mobile and in-person ordering. However, Burger713 will move to mobile only ordering at the start of the fall semester. Those interested in mobile ordering may download the Boost mobile app.
Moosally also mentioned that the parking permit fees from Parking & Transportation Services will revert to pre-COVID rates starting at the start of the fall semester.
Indoor gatherings and events requiring support or reservations from UHD’s Events Office will resume as per pre-COVID operations starting Aug. 2.
Other updates provided during the Town Hall included the following:
Shuttle Service: Shuttles are not running during the summer due to minimal face-to-face campus instruction and a reduced student presence on campus; however, the service will resume operation at the begninning of the fall semester.
Cleaning in Computer Labs: These spaces will continue to be cleaned daily with EPA-approved cleaning agents.
Acclimating New Student Cohorts to UHD: According to Villanueva, the University will host on-campus opportunities to familiarize freshmen with UHD and the campus. Additionally, UHD’s Freshman Convocation is scheduled for the early fall, and will be open to last year’s freshmen who were unable to attend this event due to the pandemic.
Attendees also were reminded that UHD policies and campus information regarding COVID-19 are available to review on the University’s Coronavirus Website.
President Blanchard closed the event by reminding those in attendance that UHD leadership and others are working diligently to ensure that employees and students return to a campus that is safe for learning and working. He added that a future event addressing fall 2021 will be scheduled soon.
“All of these plans guarantee that our most important stakeholders—our students—will have a rich, immersive academic and student life experience this fall,” he said. “These opportunities to return to the traditional operations so often associated with our institution reinforce the academic success, persistence and degree attainment of our students.”
The event may be viewed in its entirety on the UHD Network on YouTube.
The University of Houston-Downtown (UHD) is the second-largest university in Houston and 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 approximately 14,000 students, boasts more than 66,000 alumni, and offers 45 bachelor’s degrees, 12 master’s degrees, and 19 online programs within four colleges: Marilyn Davies College of Business, College of Humanities and Social Sciences, College of Public Service, and College of Sciences and Technology. UHD has one of the lowest tuition rates in Texas.
U.S. News and World Report ranked UHD among the nation’s Best Online Bachelor’s Programs for Applied Administration and Best Online Master’s Programs in Criminal Justice, as well as a Top Performer in Social Mobility. The Wall Street Journal/College Pulse ranked UHD one of the best colleges in the U.S. for its 2024 rankings, with notable distinctions: No. 1 for diversity (tied) and No. 3 for student experience. The University is designated as a Hispanic-Serving Institution, a Minority-Serving Institution, and a Military Friendly School. For more information on the University of Houston-Downtown, visit uhd.edu.