Message from the President

Tuesday, May 5, 2020 :: Office of the President

Dear Campus Community:

As we head into the final week of the Spring Semester, I truly hope everyone is staying safe and healthy. When I think about how far we’ve come in six weeks, overcoming sudden and drastic changes to our operations, I couldn’t be more pleased with UTRGV’s current position. The momentum we will take into our Summer Semester is a testament to the hard work, resiliency and dedication of all our students, faculty and staff.

Throughout this health crisis our guiding principles have been safety and success. First and foremost, we want all of you to stay safe from the COVID-19 pandemic, and concurrently, we don’t want the pandemic to disrupt what we are here to do. We’ve accomplished both these goals this spring and have a plan in place for summer to maintain our progress.

Fall Semester Plans

I’m writing today to provide more details on how we plan to remain safe and successful in the Fall Semester. First of all, our campus and off-campus facilities will be open for business in the fall. We’re still not sure how the pandemic will affect our fall, but rest assured, we will use CDC social-distancing measures to guide how we operate.

To further ensure we have a safe and successful reopening in the fall, I have appointed a taskforce to propose a plan for a gradual reopening that is consistent with the guidance received from Governor Abbott and his team of experts. The plan will include bringing staff, faculty and students back to campus in a safe, phased-in approach. The taskforce will be chaired by Dr. John Krouse, dean of the School of Medicine and Executive Vice President for Health Affairs, and includes representation from our student body, faculty and staff.

We’re also aware some students may not be ready or may be unable to return to campus. Further, social distancing guidelines may necessitate that we do some things differently. As a result, we are also planning to provide a substantial number of courses online this fall – a significantly larger number than we usually offer.

Fall/Spring Relief Package – Double the CARES

Based on the tremendous success of our Summer Relief Package, we are happy to announce the Fall/Spring Relief Package — Double the CARES.

The new relief package will include cash grants to all eligible students from CARES funds received by the university. But what makes our relief package different is we will invest university funds to match the CARES allotment, which will allow us to provide all eligible students up to $1,500 in financial assistance for the entire academic year – up to $1,000 for fall and up to $500 for spring. We know how difficult this pandemic has been on our entire university community, so we are especially proud to make this bold financial commitment for our students who have persevered through this pandemic.

For more information on the new relief package, click here.

Student Emergency Fund

In addition, we will continue to support students through the Student Emergency Fund. We will add additional funds from our CARES allocation to the emergency fund, which has already awarded more than $600,000 to students facing financial hardship because of the pandemic.

Student Employment

Lastly, we will continue supporting our students by making more student jobs available in the fall and spring. All student employees will be required to enroll full time to be eligible. You take care of your education, and we’ll take care of you through employment!

For information on student employment, click here.

Overall, UTRGV received a total of $34 million in CARES funds and, by law, must allocate $17 million toward student support. In the end, through our Fall/Spring Relief Package and Student Emergency Fund, the university will give more than $20 million of our CARES allotment directly to our students. Further, UTRGV plans to match the CARES investment in our Fall/Spring Relief Package as we continue to look for ways to ensure our students stay on track in achieving their educational goals.

Spring Commencement

As you may remember, one of the toughest decisions we had to make because of the pandemic was to postpone our Spring Commencement ceremonies. Based on input from our spring 2020 graduates, we have developed a plan to ensure these students - and their friends and family - are properly celebrated for their extraordinary achievement.

First off, our inaugural class from the School of Medicine will partake in a virtual commencement ceremony at 10 a.m. Saturday (May 9). We will then host a virtual ceremony for the remainder of our graduates on Saturday (May 30), time TBD.

In addition, once safety and health regulations permit, the university will conduct a traditional commencement and all spring graduates will be invited to partake in that ceremony as well.

In closing, I am confident our current plans and the continued dedication of our students, faculty and staff, will keep the campus community safe and successful. Thank you again for all your hard work, and Vs Up!

Sincerely,

Guy Bailey
President

Source: Message was sent via email from the Office of the President on May 5, 2020.