September 23, 2019
Dear Cougar Community,
Once again, the people of Houston showed their resilience in the midst of horrible flooding. Some of you had homes flooded. Others had cars damaged or were stuck in traffic for hours on freeways trying to get home or to your children’s schools. What a helpless feeling! It’s unbelievable how quickly much of our city can come to a standstill.
I was away on a business trip and couldn’t believe the pictures and video I was seeing at home. So much of that was brought to life when I was able to return, hearing about what members of our Cougar family went through.
If there’s one thing we all learned from Harvey, it’s that it takes time and support to recover, and it can be an especially difficult time for those who are new to Houston and don’t have family here to rely on. Dedicated staff worked hard to meet the needs of many who remained on our campuses by keeping our buses running, making sure food service options were available and, for those who couldn’t get home, we provided a place to shelter during the storm and while roads remained flooded.
But I also understand that circumstances were not ideal; for some it was scary. When determining when to delay or close our campuses we make decisions based on the best information we have, and your safety is always our highest priority. Imelda proved particularly challenging— conditions changed quickly leaving much of the city stranded. After each event like this, we listen to your feedback and no matter the outcome, look for ways to do things better. This time is no different.
As we resume our classes today, we do so with the same three commitments that we made after Harvey: maximum flexibility, full support and heart-felt compassion for those whose lives were and continue to be impacted. While Imelda’s scale of impact was smaller in our immediate area, we understand that many communities in our region are still reeling. Once again, I am asking all supervisors and faculty to be flexible and compassionate in accommodating the needs of those still recovering.
Thank you to all of you who do so much to make our University what it is, especially during challenging times.