June 24, 2020
Dear Faculty and Staff,
I hope you and your families are safe and healthy. You may have read that COVID-19 cases in the city of Houston and Harris County are increasing. I am urging you to please be careful and follow guidelines related to handwashing hygiene, social distancing and face covering whether you are on or off campus. I am also asking you to please consider ordering masks with the UH logo instead of shirts as giveaways to students and your teams this fall.
Here are new actions taken since my last update.
$1 Million Research Fund: I am pleased to announce a $1 million fund to provide research grants to faculty to conduct research in two pressing areas: race relations and COVID-19. Vice President for Research and Technology Transfer Amr Elnashai’s office will send more details about these grants and how to apply for them. Funds will be available immediately.
Mandatory Face Covering: After careful consideration of health and safety issues along with local conditions, I have approved a mandatory face covering policy on campus. The Face Covering policy document, which is available on the COVID-19 website for easy access anytime, includes guidelines on social distancing, provisions for seeking exception, and mechanism for enforcement.
COVID-19 Response Coordinator: Considering the complexities of issues related to COVID-19 and its impact on every facet of University operation, I am appointing Kelly Boysen as the UH COVID-19 Response Coordinator. She has been leading our emergency management efforts for several years and is intimately familiar with emergency situations and existing cross divisional networks that assist in finding solutions.
COVID-19 Diagnosis and Symptoms Protocols: Upon the recommendation of the health and safety experts, the University of Houston is also instituting a COVID-19 Diagnosis and Symptoms Protocol for all faculty and staff. This protocol provides extensive guidelines for individuals and supervisors on self-monitoring, testing, reporting and contact tracing and return-to-work for COVID-19. Please take few minutes to familiarize yourself with the protocol and direct any question that you may have to the COVID-19 Response Coordinator at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I am also directing your attention to an FAQ with relevant questions about instruction and research asked recently by the members of the Faculty Senate. These will provide useful information to all faculty.
Race Relations and Social Justice: In my last update, I had announced the formation of a university-wide group of faculty, staff, students and alumni to bring meaningful change to race relations. After seeking suggestions from deans and vice presidents, I am pleased to announce the members of the Race Relations and Social Justice group whose expertise and experience will help us understand racism, its systemic roots and how to bring meaningful change. History has presented us with an opportunity to be an agent for transformation, and we must make our most sincere effort. I am further pleased to announce that Vice President Elwyn Lee and Dean Robert McPherson have agreed to co-chair. Other members of the group are listed here.
Virtual Town Hall Meetings: I will be hosting a number of virtual town halls during the coming weeks to discuss the reopening of UH with a panel to include Provost Paula Short, Vice President Steve Spann and Vice President Jim McShan. You will receive an invitation for registration for one of the following dates:
|Faculty Chairs||June 26||11 am – Noon|
|June 29||9 – 10 am|
|Faculty||July 7||1 – 2 pm|
|July 9||10 – 11 am|
|Staff||July 14||2 – 3 pm|
|July 16||2 – 3 pm|
I look forward to getting to visit with you during these sessions.
I thank you for your attention and appreciate your understanding during these difficult times. Please stay safe and send any advice/suggestions/questions to me or to the relevant cabinet member. We are here to help you navigate your challenges and to move forward together.