End of the Semester Update for Faculty and Staff - University of Houston
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End of the Semester Update for Faculty and Staff

December 9, 2021

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Dear Faculty and Staff,

As we approach the close of the year and I reflect on the past few months, I am both in awe and grateful for the comeback we have experienced. We started the semester with cautious optimism that we could fully return to campus with success. And thanks to the COVID-19 vaccine and your precautionary actions, we accomplished that goal. Thank you for helping make this vision a reality and for giving our students the immersive experience they deeply missed.

Not only did we return safely, but we also returned with gusto. Sponsored research saw a significant increase as did faculty publications.  We also received more freshman applications this year than ever before, crossing the 35,000 mark. Continuing our return to normal this weekend, we will graduate more than 5,100 students through nine in-person ceremonies. Just think. What a difference a year makes. Graduation is always special. This commencement we have a mother and daughter who are both graduating from the College of Technology and our youngest graduate is receiving her master’s degree at the impressive age of 18.

Here are some additional updates:

Health Happenings: UH Health, our platform that integrates the University’s health-related services, programs and research, is expanding its footprint. In January, we will open the new UH Health Family Care Center in our Health 2 Building with UH College of Medicine faculty serving as practicing physicians. We look forward to the clinic providing affordable and convenient high-quality services to the community as well as our faculty and staff.

Building Excitement: New facilities are on the rise across campus and there is more to come. I am grateful to the Texas Legislature for allocating funds to UH for the construction of four new facilities. The entire campus community will benefit from the Innovation Hub (Idea Lab), which will house innovation and entrepreneurial-related programs, as well as maker space. New buildings for the Hobby School of Public Affairs and a second academic building at our Sugar Land site for the College of Technology are in the planning phases.  Last but not least, the legislature also provided partial funding for the construction of a medical research facility in the Texas Medical Center’s TMC3 campus. As you may have already seen, the new College of Medicine building, the John M. O’ Quinn Law Building and a second tower at the Conrad N. Hilton College of Hotel and Restaurant Management are well underway.

Whose House? Athletics continues to break modern-day boundaries and make us proud to be Coogs. Our Cougar football earned a spot in the conference championship game and has been invited to play in the Birmingham Bowl against Auburn on December 28. Go Coogs! Between the NCAA Final Four, bowl game and so much more, the Athletics Division’s continued success will build a nationally competitive athletics program and help elevate UH’s reputation and brand. I am so excited about our new achievements. For the first time since 1973, both Cougar football and basketball teams are nationally ranked at the same time — men’s basketball is ranked No. 14 and football is No. 20 in the College Football Playoff rankings.

Business Matters: The Cyvia and Melvyn Wolff Center for Entrepreneurship within the C.T. Bauer College of Business has once again been named the No. 1 undergraduate entrepreneurship program in the United States by The Princeton Review. This program serves as an inspiration to us all that we can reach our apex, especially as we aim to boost our University’s rankings. The Wolff Center for Entrepreneurship has ranked in the Top 10 since 2007 and No. 1 for three consecutive years. They mean business.

A New Frontier Awaits: The Presidential Frontier Faculty program has launched and is already getting noticed by other universities. I am so proud of this bold new initiative, which will put us closer to our goal of becoming a Top 50 public university. Budget permitting, this ambitious and impactful university-wide hiring campaign will recruit 100 research faculty who will respond to societal challenges and federal priorities. The positions are strategically linked to the expansion of UH research priority areas — health, energy, security and sustainability. Twenty-two Frontier faculty are currently being recruited to start in fall 2022. These positions are in addition to any replacement hires that the Provost’s Office has authorized.

Keeping Up with COVID-19:  The COVID-19 omicron variant’s exact effects are unknown, but its emergence serves as a reminder to stay on guard against this ever-changing coronavirus. Founding Dean of the College of Medicine and vice president for medical affairs Dr. Stephen Spann outlined sound guidance in an earlier communication, which I encourage you to read. As you leave campus for the winter break, please continue to practice the precautions that have kept you, your families and our campus community safe. Our free COVID-19 Curative Testing kiosk is readily available for testing and will only be closed from December 24 - January 2 during the winter break.

Thank you for your dedication, ingenuity and tenacious attitude that makes this great University soar to higher heights. You make UH a top destination for our students to learn, thrive and grow. Moreover, you make me proud to be a part of this winning team.

May the joy of the season fill your hearts and grant you a bright start in 2022.

With warm regards,

Renu Khator