FEBRUARY 23, 2021 — Editor’s note: The following message was sent today via email from President Taylor Eighmy, Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs Kimberly Andrews Espy and Chief Financial Officer and Senior Vice President for Business Affairs Veronica Salazar Mendez to all faculty and staff:
Last week’s winter storm was difficult for many in our community, leaving areas of San Antonio and Texas without water, electricity and access to other essential needs. We are proud of the persistence you continue to show and encourage you to seek out UTSA’s emergency resources if you need assistance. We are also very grateful to our staff who left their families and homes to work on campus during and after the storm, keeping everything running under severe conditions.
As we turn our attentions to the future, with plans for the summer term in place, we write today to provide an update about our planning for this coming fall.
The increasing availability of COVID-19 vaccinations means we can optimistically plan for a fall semester that is much closer to the traditional UTSA experience we all know and love. We are preparing for extensive in-person classroom instruction and a fuller array of on-campus activities and services this fall. As always, these plans may change as we continue to closely monitor the pandemic over the spring and summer.
The fall semester will feature extensive in-person learning experiences for our students, and we encourage faculty to take advantage of the flexibility that comes with enriched modality options.
While some courses may be fully in-person or fully online, most courses will be hybrid with a combination of in-person and online instruction. A variety of new hybrid course structures will offer different ratios of in-person to online class sessions per week.
In a sense, this approach gives us the best of both worlds, leveraging the innovation, convenience and on-demand access to online course materials with the immediacy and connectedness of face-to-face classroom experiences. Importantly, these flexible modalities will allow us to pivot quickly if needed, should the public health situation change at any point prior to or during the semester. The registrar will release more information on fall course scheduling soon.
To further inform fall course planning, we are conducting a survey of all UTSA students to better understand their modality preferences for lecture and laboratory classes. These data will be shared with department chairs and deans.
We are also working to upgrade classroom technology at both the Main and Downtown Campuses that support innovative instruction and enhance our capabilities. As part of the Academic Success District Initiative, this effort entails upgrading standard sets of equipment by classroom function, with the goal to provide greater consistency for faculty teaching and student learning experiences.
While details of specific services are still to be determined, we will offer expanded housing options for students and increased technology services campuswide.
Many other services—such as the Student Union, Campus Rec and the UTSA Libraries—will resume normal operations under appropriate public health guidelines. Virtual campus services and office hours have been effective and well-received and will remain available to accommodate student needs.
At this time we ask department leadership to begin actively planning how best to offer in-person services and activities this fall while also ensuring virtual services and office hours remain available.
Over the past year we saw significant innovative processes and efficiencies implemented throughout the university that demonstrate the many ways we can continue offering high-quality services with a primarily remote workforce.
As we plan for the fall we encourage offices to explore whether some or all of their employees may continue to telecommute without impacting their ability to offer a full range of services. These decisions will be made by leadership on an office-by-office basis.
We understand that many of you will have questions about work modalities and your specific circumstances. We encourage supervisors and managers to begin fall planning now and reach out to your HR business partner for support.
Public Health Guidelines
UTSA’s Public Health Task Force will continue to monitor progress and local warning indicators, ensuring the university is following guidance from UT System, the State of Texas and the CDC. Later this spring the task force will make recommendations for a safe return to campus this fall after considering the latest public health best practices, testing protocols, community vaccination levels, vaccine availability and the status of COVID-19 variants. Soon after their report is released, the task force will host a town hall to invite community dialogue, questions and feedback.
We know students planning to graduate in May are awaiting news regarding our plans for Commencement ceremonies. We are currently developing plans to offer modified in-person ceremonies for the spring 2021 graduating class as well as for those students who graduated in May and December 2020. We anticipate these ceremonies will be college-based. More information will be provided in the weeks to come.
A Last Note
While our fall planning is still in the early stages we are confident that all of you will be able to capitalize on the creative gains over the past year as we work to ensure our Roadrunner community can enjoy an active campus and traditional college experiences this fall. We will provide updates on our fall plans throughout the coming months as well as opportunities for dialogue through community town halls.
Lastly, we strongly encourage you to get a COVID-19 vaccination as soon as you are eligible. The vaccines are safe, effective and crucial to winning the fight against COVID-19. Learn more about UTSA’s vaccination program for faculty and staff.
This year has been challenging and the pandemic is still deeply impacting our community—yet there is cause for hope. As we’ve said time and time again, all of you have shown remarkable resilience. Thank you for your patience and for your continued dedication to UTSA throughout our journey.
Interested in wellbeing programs, events and resources? Every Wednesday at noon you can stop by virtually and ask any questions you may have about Student Health Services, Counseling and Mental Health Services, and the PEACE office.Virtual Event
Floor captains play a critical role in emergency preparedness, safety awareness and crime prevention techniques throughout the university. They focus on safety and security initiatives while providing guidance and direction to building occupants. During emergency activations, they assist with required evacuations and reentry, shelter-in-place commands, interface with police and other first responders, and help those who may require assistancer.MyTraining Webinar
Roadrunners who plan to learn, teach, live, work or research at UTSA this summer are invited to attend one of these town halls where members of UTSA's Public Health Task Force will share updates from their recently released 4.0 report. The town halls will be a terrific opportunity to ask questions and learn more about summer campus operations.Virtual Event
Honors College students will be presented with their stoles to wear to Commencement. The Honors College provides stoles only to students who are eligible to graduate with honors.Retama Auditorium
Victory celebrations in San Antonio always include honking car horns, and we are carrying that tradition over to UTSA. If you are in San Antonio, join us for a nostalgic Commencement Drive around the Main Campus. This new tradition began in May 2020 and will begin at the Brackenridge (BK 5) parking lot adjacent to the Child Development Center. Vehicles can begin gathering at 5:00 p.m. The parade begins at 5:30 p.m.Brackenridge (BK 5) parking lot, Main Campus
In person ceremony for students recieving their doctorate degrees.H-E-B Student Union Ballroom, Main Campus
In person ceremoney for University College students.Retama Auditorium, Main Campus
The University of Texas at San Antonio is dedicated to the advancement of knowledge through research and discovery, teaching and learning, community engagement and public service. As an institution of access and excellence, UTSA embraces multicultural traditions and serves as a center for intellectual and creative resources as well as a catalyst for socioeconomic development and the commercialization of intellectual property - for Texas, the nation and the world.
To be a premier public research university, providing access to educational excellence and preparing citizen leaders for the global environment.
We encourage an environment of dialogue and discovery, where integrity, excellence, inclusiveness, respect, collaboration and innovation are fostered.
UTSA is a proud Hispanic Serving Institution (HSI) as designated by the U.S. Department of Education.
The University of Texas at San Antonio, a Hispanic Serving Institution situated in a global city that has been a crossroads of peoples and cultures for centuries, values diversity and inclusion in all aspects of university life. As an institution expressly founded to advance the education of Mexican Americans and other underserved communities, our university is committed to ending generations of discrimination and inequity. UTSA, a premier public research university, fosters academic excellence through a community of dialogue, discovery and innovation that embraces the uniqueness of each voice.