May 22, 2020
Dear faculty colleagues,
In more than three decades at UT, I’ve learned a great deal about the University. Your commitment to educating and supporting students is remarkable. The dedication of faculty and staff to research, scholarship, and creative activities is incredible. I’ve been fortunate to see this as a faculty member, a department chair and as Vice President of Research.
My understanding of the campus and my respect for everything you do has grown enormously in my first three weeks as interim provost. At the end of this turbulent semester, I am grateful for the new uses to which you have put your skills and the dedication with which you have done it.
There is no area of your lives this crisis has not touched. Within a matter of weeks, you transitioned thousands of in-person courses to a remote format. You have had to adapt your research and scholarly activities in a multitude of ways. Away from work, many of you struggle with serious issues. Parents are needing to participate in their children’s education and look after their welfare in new ways. Some of you are caregivers for elderly relatives, and some are at higher health risk from COVID-19 or have health issues that make you acutely vulnerable. You probably have family and friends who are out of work and need support. And for those who live alone, isolation presents very real challenges. The list goes on.
You deserve a great deal of credit and thanks for everything you have done. Thank you for your work to be responsive and flexible during this spring semester. Thank you for your support to expand our summer course offerings. And thank you for your patience and your help as we continue to plan for a safe fall semester that provides the educational experience UT students need and deserve.
I want you to know that faculty voices are a part of the overall conversation about the way forward. I am regularly joining meetings with the faculty council executive committee. There are faculty on all of the fall planning working groups. The update you received earlier this week explains that scenario planning is well underway, and the working groups are making considerable progress. Health, safety, and well-being are a central factor in this planning. You can expect to continue receiving regular updates about the progress of the task force. We are also working on plans to provide more detailed information to the campus about the many conversations happening as part of our planning process.
Congratulations to you all at the conclusion of one of the most extraordinary semesters our campus has ever experienced. I look forward to celebrating our graduating students tomorrow during our virtual commencement ceremonies and continuing the important work at hand.
Wishing you a healthy and relaxing Memorial Day weekend,
Interim Executive Vice President and Provost