Working Together on a Safe Return to Campus

Dear UHD Community,

I hope this note finds you and your families in good health.

Today, myself and members of the University Leadership team met with the Faculty Senate Executive Committee and Staff Council officers to address concerns expressed in a joint resolution presented by these two groups last week. The conversation, I am pleased to say, was quite productive and we agreed to viable solutions to specific points referenced in the initial resolution. I am honored to be part of an institution that works together to resolve challenges and develop a productive way forward. Below is a summary of our response to the resolution’s key points.

  • Based on the changing nature of this pandemic and the increases in Houston-area cases of COVID-19, UHD is postponing Phase I of its Safe Return to Campus until further notice. In addition, we are extending the University’s COVID-19 Emergency Leave effective immediately, as noted in the email you received from Vice President Montalbano on June 15.
  • As addressed in the joint resolution, there is an overwhelming concern among faculty and staff regarding job security during these uncertain times. As stated in previous communications to the University community, UHD will not execute furloughs or reductions in force for the remainder of the fiscal year.
  • Recently, I charged the COVID-19 Management Task Force (chaired by Cynthia Vargas, director of Emergency Management) to advise University Leadership on the University’s pandemic response. The Task Force is comprised of faculty and staff and includes representatives from Faculty Senate and Staff Council. Today, I asked Faculty Senate President Dr. Michael Duncan and Staff Council President Dr. Rhonda Scherer to nominate an additional representative from their respective organizations to serve on this task force for the specific purpose of providing another voice during the next several weeks as we prepare for a Safe Return to campus. The participation of the Faculty Senate and Staff Council is essential to support UHD’s spirit of shared governance and ensure that all voices are heard as the University prepares for a Safe Return to Campus.

The following is a joint statement issued from the Drs. Duncan and Scherer offering support for the responses proposed in today’s meeting:

We appreciate the administration’s swift response to our concerns. This meeting addressed all of the points in the joint resolution and offered an opportunity to further support our University as it navigates this pandemic. We are grateful that the voices of faculty and staff have been heard and look forward to working with the administration on future decisions related to safely reopening our campus.

Nothing is more important than the health and well-being of our UHD Community. The COVID-19 pandemic requires constant monitoring, careful communication and thoughtful responses. Like higher education institutions throughout the country, we will continue to face many challenges as a result of the pandemic. Working together we can create and maintain a safe environment for the University community.

Dr. Juan Sánchez Muñoz
UHD President