update for students, april 29, 2020 - University of Houston
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COVID-19 Communications

April 29, 2020

McGovern College Students:

I have taken some time away from my regular updates in order to allow you space to finish the spring semester. We have now passed the last day of classes in one of the most unusual semesters in the history of higher education; congratulations on what you have accomplished!

Of course I have been receiving questions since my last update and have continued to answer these to the best of my ability. If you have sent me a question to which I have not responded, please contact me.

Student fees

I have continued to receive questions, including within the last few days, regarding the charging of fees, including the fees charged in the college that are associated with specific courses or specific programs and majors. Please know that the question of these fees, and the question of all fees charged by the university, is in discussion at all levels, from the directors to the dean and up. The answer to how to handle the fees requires careful consideration of many factors affecting the university at this time, and it requires careful coordination across many divisions of the university.

Please know also that I remain very sensitive to the financial burden that the pandemic is causing our students and our community at large. I am committed to doing everything I can to address these questions and make informed decisions. 

McGovern College task forces

I would like to communicate to our students that I have appointed, or will appoint, two task forces in the college, comprising representatives from your faculty and staff. The first is the Financial Task Force, charged with addressing the immediate, short-term financial challenges in the college brought on by the pandemic. This task force has been appointed and is working as we speak. Members are as follows:

Beckham Dossett (co-chair), Associate Dean, McGovern College of the Arts
Courtney Crappell (co-chair), Director, Moores School of Music
Rob Shimko, Director, School of Theatre & Dance
David Politzer, Director, School of Art
Fleurette Fernando, Director, Arts Leadership
Steven Matijcio, Director and Chief Curator, Blaffer Art Museum
Adam Noble, Chair, Faculty Governance Committee, McGovern College of the Arts
David Ashley White, Moores School of Music
Rex Koontz, School of Art
Jim Johnson, School of Theatre & Dance
Ornela Santee, Director, College Business Operations

The second is the Strategy and Innovation Task Force, charged with addressing the new realities we will face as we move through summer and into fall 2020, addressing and making recommendations on the necessary innovation in our arts programs, how we can continue to provide you the very best student experience and the highest quality arts education, and how we innovate to ensure sustainability and relevance for the McGovern College of the Arts even in the new environment in which we find ourselves. I have asked Prof. Prof. Karen Stokes, Director of the Dance Program in the School of Theatre & Dance, to chair the Strategy and Innovation task force, and she has graciously agreed. This task force is being formed and membership will be announced shortly.

I invite all of our students to engage with the task forces as you feel appropriate and compelled to do so. The task force welcomes comments and ideas from students--including ideas for innovative future arts programming, how to meet the changing needs of students in the new environment, and any others that you feel our representatives need to hear. If you wish to make a contribution to the work of one of the task forces, please submit your ideas via this simple onine form. You will will have to login to Office 365 using your Cougarnet ID in order to use the form.

Fall instruction and enrollment

At this time there continue to be no decisions regarding fall instruction. There has been no decision to move fall instruction to an alternative, remote format. In fact, the Strategy and Innovation Task Force in the college is charged with addressing this question, among others, as we seek to make the best decisions. There are other groups of faculty and administrators addressing this question at all levels of the university as well. All of this work, and the still-evolving public health guidelines and research findings in the scientific community, will help us make informed decisions about how to move forward.

I will say again that we remain entirely committed to delivering to you the very best student experience possible, and the highest level arts education that you will find anywhere in the country. If you have ideas and feedback, I invite you to contribute these ideas to one of our task forces.

Fall enrollment is now open, and I invite you to register and take full advantage of the opportunity to continue to make progress toward your degrees. If you need advice, please contact your academic advisor and our brilliant academic advising team. Advisors are available for appointments via the Navigate app, as always.

Access to Technology

I have been updated that University Information Technology has experienced lower than expected demand for their laptop loaner program, and that laptops are available for checkout. If you need a laptop, please visit the UIT website or contact the help desk at 713-743-1411 (via call or text) or support@uh.edu.

Counseling and emotional support

The university's counseling and Psychological Services continues to provide psychological and emotional support for all students from the university community who find themselves in need. You may visit CAPS and explore their resources here. 

Please let me know what additional questions you have, and I will continue to provide answers.

Andrew Davis