April 22, 2020
Dear UT Community,
We know that this is a semester like no other. It has been challenging and uncertain. Yet what every Longhorn also knows is that our community of students, faculty and staff is also like no other. Your imagination, spirit, energy and passion are leading us forward, and we sincerely thank you for all that you are doing for The University of Texas.
Now, as we near the final weeks of spring semester, the university is looking to the future and evaluating options for how we will teach, research, learn and operate during the fall.
We will continue UT’s mission to educate our students during the fall semester and hope to reopen the campus to do so, but we recognize that our nation will still be facing COVID-19 for the foreseeable future. As a result, we need to determine what the risks will be and how we can mitigate those risks by examining the ways we teach students and schedule classes, operate research labs and coordinate housing for students who live on and near the Forty Acres.
We expect to announce the university’s plans for the fall semester by the end of June. This timing will enable faculty to prepare their classes and curriculums so that they can deliver the extraordinary educational experiences UT is known for. It will also provide time for our dedicated staff members to reopen the facilities, integrate new learning technologies and prepare to implement new health-conscious practices and policies. In late June, we will have more information about the state of the COVID-19 crisis, and a strategy to help students plan for the fall semester will be in place.
During the months ahead, we will be working to answer many questions: How and when can we safely bring students, faculty and staff back to the Forty Acres? How do we expand testing for COVID-19? What will social distancing look like on campus? How can we enhance the online learning experience? When will the Longhorn football team be able to take the field at DKR-Texas Memorial Stadium again?
These and other questions are being evaluated by a university-wide task force to assess our operations for the fall semester. This task force is being led by Art Markman, professor of psychology and marketing and director of UT’s IC² Institute. He is overseeing a planning team that is directing subgroups, each charged with a specific sector of campus life and learning. These subgroups are harnessing the talent and expertise of UT faculty, staff and undergraduate and graduate students, while coordinating with city and state officials as well as off-campus housing providers.
The results of this university-wide assessment will help UT students prepare for success in the fall semester. And it is very important that current students register for summer and fall courses starting April 27. By knowing which classes our students are taking in advance, we will be able to develop a plan for coursework and academic delivery this fall. Current students can learn more about how to register for classes here.
As we look ahead, there is much to prepare for. But one thing is certain: The University of Texas will make it through all of these challenges together, and we’ll end up stronger and more prepared to do what we do best — change the world.
Stay safe, stay healthy and be well!
Gregory L. Fenves
Interim President Designate