Dear Faculty Colleagues:
I hope you and your family members are safe, dry, and out of harm's way. This weekend's storm and its unprecedented aftermath have severely impacted the lives of our family, friends, colleagues, students, and fellow citizens across a major portion of our state. As you know, we have been particularly hard hit in the Greater Houston Area with catastrophic flooding caused by the continuing impact of Hurricane Harvey, the consequences of which will be felt in our neighborhoods, city, and region for a very long time to come.
Today, I wanted to reach out to you as a member of the UH Faculty to reassure you that you are in our thoughts and prayers. I realize that each and every one of you has been impacted by these events in one way or another. Please know that I and the University of Houston family stand behind you in this very trying and stressful time. Rest assured that as an institution and a campus community, we will work together to do everything we can to help, assist, and facilitate returning all of our lives to normal over the coming days, weeks, and months.
I want to take this opportunity to state unequivocally that our primary concern has been and will remain the continued safety and well-being of our faculty, staff, and students. Our second concern is to ensure that as we begin our efforts to return the University to normal operations, we do not place any of our faculty, staff, and students at risk when returning to campus. Neither do we want to place any added burden on those that have already suffered significant disruption in their personal circumstances because of the storm.
In the short term, the University will not reopen until we are certain that resuming operations will not put our faculty, students, or staff in a more precarious position than they may already be in with regard to returning to campus, especially in the wake of major road flooding and potential fuel shortages in the area. As of now, the University is officially closed through Monday, September 4, 2017.
The University also is acutely aware of the severe personal strain that the consequences of such a catastrophic weather event may have had on those of our faculty, staff, and students. With that in mind, the University is diligently developing a series of contingency plans to deal with not only the severe disruptions caused by Hurricane Harvey and its aftermath on our academic operations and scheduling, but also on how best to assist and accommodate the needs of those faculty, students, and staff whose personal circumstances have been significantly impacted.
Students, rightly so, are very concerned about their courses and course expectations/deadlines. While I will be working to obtain input on specific decisions regarding the semester schedule and instructional time, please remain flexible and understanding with your students who may be impacted by the hurricane and are especially concerned about their courses and deadlines for assignments. As I solicit feedback from the Faculty Senate, colleges, and other groups to determine the best manner to address loss of instructional time and semester schedule, please know that I plan to provide specific suggestions to the campus community on how best to address these challenges. Please continue to monitor your email over the next few days for communications and information on this particular subject, as well as status updates on reopening of the University.
I hope that, wherever you and your family find yourself today, you are safe, dry, and comfortable. Please do not hesitate to reach out to me or any of my senior staff if you have any questions or concerns. I will continue to update you as new information becomes available.
Paula Myrick Short