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Dean's Update: Special Edition

April 2, 2020


I’d like to share some comments from one of our teaching undergrads:

“Professors have been doing a great job checking in on students. They have set aside Zoom office hours for us to be able to communicate with them personally. All my instructors have been proactive about sending constant updates, reminders and love through their emails. I seriously don’t think this situation could be handled any better and am extremely thankful and grateful for the COE, teachers and peers.”

I want to thank you all for extending empathy to our students and colleagues. I hope this attention to our students and our own social-emotional needs continues beyond COVID-19.

As we learn and improve upon the last three weeks, let’s continue to keep our students and each other feeling connected.

Onward in good health,

Banner photo: Last week’s office – and the Harry Potter cup – belonged to Margaret Hale (CUIN). Today’s banner includes coloring by Jaime Questell’s daughter Harlow.


  • Virtual Coffee and Conversations with the Dean via Zoom:
    • Monday, April 6, 10:30 – 11:30 a.m., Dean and Professors
    • Tuesday, April 7, 10:30 – 11:30 a.m., Dean and Associate Professors
    • Wednesday, April 8, 10:30 – 11:30 a.m., Dean and Assistant Professors
    • Wednesday, April 8, 1:30 – 2:30 p.m., Dean and Staff
  • CITE is operating a “ Virtual Help Desk ” weekdays from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. to address basic student, staff and faculty tech questions and to assist in escalating requests as needed.
  • Nominations for COE Staff Awards are due Thursday, April 30. See April 1 email from Tracy Markovich.



What If?
For parents worried about helping their children with schoolwork, Ruth López (ELPS) shared advice on Univision Houston. As a mother of two, she urged having patience and focusing on what they can do, not on what's missing. Also, in her first synchronous class, López read aloud this open letter from the Spencer Foundation, which asks in part, “What if we recognized this moment as also a possibility to reconfigure life towards the world we want?”

‘Beyond Supportive’
With K-12 schools closed, Justin Burris (CUIN) is working to bring the classroom experience to teaching candidates virtually. He’s shown videos of elementary school children explaining their math thinking, for example, and his students will model a math lesson to an online classroom of their peers next week. A doctoral student commented on Facebook: “Dr. Burris is fantastic! He also advises the Ed.D. Math Ed cohort and has been beyond supportive to us!”

Solving Problems
To prepare to offer remote advising, the UGS advisors got their home computers equipped with VPN and new webcams and had daily tech check-ins. Their efforts to transform a high-traffic office to a virtual one are paying off. They advised more than 120 students in the first week of remote operations and 160 in the second. “The advisors work as a team, supporting and helping each other,” said Associate Dean Sesa Edgar. “They are amazing problem solvers.” (Photo: Throwback to Bagel Wednesdays!)



  • The dean’s Ad Hoc Research Committee has compiled Guidance for Research Impacted by COVID-19. Ideas for continuing research if your data collection needs to be suspended include:
    • Writing up manuscripts you put on the back burner.
    • Doing new data analyses for new manuscripts.
    • Doing preliminary data analyses to inform any revisions to your study based on COVID-19 impact.
    • Writing up an IRB protocol for that “next study” you intended to do.
    • Reading all of those research articles that have been piling up.
    • Considering publishing things you may not have considered before.
    • Getting lab members or students supported in your work to assist you with literature reviews.
    • Catching up on your CITI Training.
    • Any continuing education you were planning on doing but hadn’t yet had the chance.
    • Beginning to work on your progress reports (as applicable).

Working Remotely

Dr. Li's standing deskWho Needs IKEA?
Miao Li (CUIN) got resourceful to create a standing desk.

Tackling Tasks
The dean’s Faculty Ad Hoc Committee suggests author Stephen Covey’s matrix method as one approach for prioritizing tasks. Chart into quadrants: urgent and important (highest priority), not urgent but important, urgent but less important, and not urgent and less important (lowest priority).


  • Where in the world is….? Spice up Zoom meetings (and hide your home clutter) with a customized background image. Jacqueline Hawkins and Kristi Santi (ELPS) are pros if the Zoom instructions don’t help. (Bragging rights to anyone who knows all the landmarks below.)
  • UH warns against COVID-19-related cyber scams and offers best practices to minimize risk.


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