Classes start at the University of Houston on August 24. UH leaders, and many others throughout the region and across the state, have been working toward that day pretty much constantly since the pandemic began.
COVID-19 has changed the way we look at everything, and that’s certainly true with the look, feel, experience and attitude of the start of the fall semester. Lots of classes will be remote and on-line. Many activities will be different or gone altogether. A lot of this — maybe even most of it — will be enormously frustrating and, yeah, disappointing. There’s also real reason to have some fear.
But despite the challenges, this is still a vitally important time for students. It needs to be valuable, and we’re all committed to making it work. Let’s be flexible and open to different ideas. Let’s create new ways of doing things, improving methods and processes wherever we can. Let’s be considerate of others. And let’s have empathy for those who may have greater challenges with all of this than we do. Hear them. Help them.
Many, many people are helping to ensure that this unprecedented semester goes as smoothly as possible. At UH, President Renu Khator created the New Normal Task Force, among other efforts, to deal with these unusual circumstances. As a member of that task force, I’ve seen first hand how hard so many are working to have things ready and to think through how we’ll operate safely and well in this unprecedented time. That’s happening in schools and institutions across Texas. There’s no way it will be perfect. There will be problems. Truthfully, all of this is an experiment of sorts.
It’s okay to be frustrated, disappointed, and anxious. It’s normal to be sad and even a little angry. Seek out help if you need it.
But let’s squeeze everything out of the educational experience that we can, even in a painful time. This is the time we have. And it can be special. It should be. Let’s seek out the fun, delight and joy that is here—that comes from embracing this moment of growth, learning and, yeah, experimenting with living enthusiastically in this extraordinary time.
The Hobby Hour
This Wednesday, August 19th, I’ll host The Hobby Hour for a second time. The Hobby Hour is our new monthly webinar series where we talk policy and politics. On Wednesday, I’ll be interviewing Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo and Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner. We’ll talk about things like governing in a time of crisis, budgeting, flood issues, COVID and more. It’s interactive, so folks in the audience can suggest questions, too.
And go ahead and mark your calendar for The Hobby Hour on September 16th at noon. I’ll be talking to Bob Harvey (the President and CEO of the Greater Houston Partnership), Ramanan Krishnamoorti (the Chief Energy Officer of the University of Houston), Bill McKeon (the President and CEO of the Texas Medical Center), and Laura Murillo (the President and CEO of the Houston Hispanic Chamber). We’ll be talking about the Texas economy, the impact of COVID, and the recent shock to the energy sector.
Stay safe, happy and healthy
Founding Dean, Hobby School of Public Affairs