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Dean's Update: Special Edition

March 26, 2020


As we wrap up week two of challenging and mostly remote operations, I hope you’re feeling a positive boost from being able to reconnect with our students. Though, I suspect you’re feeling some exhaustion as I do. I encourage you to rest and recharge over the weekend. Tomorrow morning I will slip into my son’s closed CrossFit gym to work out alone. I need the time for myself. I need to exercise.

Still, I’m confident that we will continue to get more and more accustomed to the new normal. We will get more efficient and effective. We will improve and innovate. We’re known for our resilience in Houston, and this is no exception. Hang in there!


Banner photo: Can you guess whose office? Hint: Look at the cup.


  • Farish Hall will officially close Friday at least through the duration of the “stay home, work safe” order. College leadership asks that no one takes the risk of going to the building.
  • Email Ezemenari Obasi with any questions regarding the UH directive for research activities in labs to be ramped down through at least April 3.
  • Thesis/dissertation deadlines have been extended:
    • Final defense: May 7 (from April 24)
    • Advisor approved document review: May 15 (from May 1)
    • Submission: May 22 (from May 11)
  • Access past memos from COE leadership related to COVID-19 via the intranet.
  • Continue to check the UH Coronavirus Webpage for updates.



‘Going to be OK’
Hosting her first ever Zoom meeting with students Monday, CUIN’s Celeste Alba admits she was nervous. “Initially,” she said, “they looked sad, anxious, no one was smiling. But as we shared some good news, I began to see the smiles. I will admit I got teary while talking to them. I was so worried about my lack of Zoom expertise, but they didn’t seem to care. I think they just needed reassurance that it’s going to be OK.” (Editor’s note: Check out her office view!)

No Complaints
After hosting tech trainings for faculty and staff, assisting with Blackboard set-ups and responding to emails well into the night, Velvette Laurence has no complaints. “Just wish I can get to everyone quicker,” she says. Continue to get your tech questions answered during CITE’s new virtual office hours: Fridays at 10 a.m. for instructors and Fridays at noon for staff, both via Microsoft Teams. See calendar invite from Velvette.

Playing Offense
On Monday, ELPS graduate assistant Selena Garcia was tasked with giving students the tools they needed to be successful with virtual defenses. Two days later, after quickly learning Zoom and Microsoft Teams, she drafted a 14-page guide with screenshots. Next up: hosting virtual sessions to answer students’ questions. Selena has “gone above and beyond during this time,” said ELPS program manager Yonelly Gutierrez.



  • To make the most of asynchronous classes, Sam Brower (CUIN) is recording lectures as mini teaching bursts of three to five minutes each as well as voice-over narrated PowerPoints, covering only the most crucial pieces he would have discussed face to face.
  • For classes where the main focus is completing a final paper, Susie Day (PHLS) has created a sequence of four assignments with specific discussion board directives to encourage class participation and feedback. Email her for the detailed sequence.


  • Need to scan a document? With an iphone, open the Notes app; tap the camera icon and select “Scan Documents” (If that doesn’t work, try to create the note in your iCloud notes folder; click “Folders” in upper left corner.) With an Android, open the Google Drive app, tap “Add” in the bottom right and tap “Scan.”

Mental Health

  • Let go of the guilt. “Kids are quite resilient. Take small steps to practice self care so that you can be as supportive toward them as possible. If that means they watch a TV show while you get something done that is stressing you out, so be it. Once you get that pressing task off of your plate, then you can be as present and patient with them as you can during the rest of the day.” (Erica Jordan, PHLS)
  • Keep the kids — and yourself — calm by coloring in this special UH mascots drawing designed by communications student worker Alexandra Hernandez. Tag @UHCOE on Twitter or Instagram with the finished products.

Working Remotely

  • Follow the five-minute rule. It’s easy to sit for too long, especially when working at home. Try to take five-minute breaks every hour to walk around to lift your mood and combat tiredness.
  • Sick of sitting? A kitchen counter makes for a cheap standing desk (and quick access to coffee!).


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