November 11, 2020
I hope that you and your families continue to be safe and healthy. I further hope that your studies are going well, and that you are progressing toward your degree despite all the challenges posed by this global pandemic. These are difficult times, but I am very proud of the resiliency and tenacity that you have shown. Classes for Fall Semester are being held largely online; however, more than 3,000 students continue to live on campus. We have been fortunate that there has been no COVID-19 outbreak on campus, and there is no evidence of transmission in our classrooms.
Now I’d like to share some information about our plans for the 2020 Commencement Ceremony and the Spring Semester.
Commencement for 2020 Graduates: After thoughtful consideration, we have decided to hold a virtual commencement ceremony for 2020 graduates (Spring, Summer and Fall) on Dec. 17. We had hoped to hold an in-person ceremony; however, this decision for a virtual event became prudent for several reasons:
- COVID-19 cases around the nation, the state, and the region continue to rise. Given that we are approaching winter months where people are likely to spend more time indoors, containing the virus may prove to be even more challenging.
- To keep everyone safe, all classes and operations of the University are shifting online after Thanksgiving. Computer labs and the library will remain open albeit with limited hours.
- Unlike athletics, where games can be cancelled at the last minutes (in fact, five of Cougar football games have been cancelled due to COVID-19 this season), the graduation ceremony cannot be jeopardized because you need to formally receive your degree.
Your professors and I are deeply disappointed that we will not be able to shake your hand and give you a special send-off. But our commencement team is planning to give you some special experiences. In addition to the virtual ceremony and college-organized celebrations, the team has planned few activities that will bring you to campus and create special memories safely.
- A Senior Decal Drive-Thru on Nov. 23 and a Ring Pick-up Celebration on Dec. 6 organized by the UH Alumni Association.
- A special graduation stage set up for all graduates to take the walk and for them and their family to take photos will be shared in an upcoming communication. A downloadable UH photo shoot map, with this and other iconic, share-worthy locations on campus to capture photos commemorating your commencement, will be included. For more information, please visit our Commencement site.
Once the virus is contained and conditions are safe, we will consider having you attend an in-person commencement ceremony in future.
Fall Semester: The Fall Semester academic calendar remains the same; however, all classes shift online after Thanksgiving. Buildings – offices, research labs, computer labs and the library – will remain open, some with limited hours and access. The Interim Undergraduate Grade Policy remains in effect this semester, offering our students leeway in determining how they wish their classwork to be evaluated. Our graduate and professional students will continue to be graded under the established Graduate Catalog. For additional details, please see this recent message from the Provost.
Spring Semester: Enrollment for Spring Semester will begin Friday, Nov.13. The student survey conducted in October indicated that students wish to take more in-person classes. Based on this information and also on the results of another survey of the faculty, the Office of the Provost is planning to offer more classes on campus in a face-to-face setting. It is, of course, contingent upon the virus being contained and the environment being safe for you and your professors to be in the classroom. We will make sure that there is enough selection offered for those students who wish to continue their studies online. Please note that if health conditions are not considered safe, classes and student support services will shift online, as they did in Fall Semester.
Your Health, Your Safety: My colleagues and I are fully committed to providing you the best learning opportunity in the safest possible environment. I am sure that we can count on your commitment to adhering to all safety protocols by wearing a mask, keeping social distance and maintaining good handwashing hygiene. I ask you to do so whether you are on campus or not in order to keep your family and yourself safe.
That’s all for now. Stay safe!
With warm regards,