The world looked much differently before the COVID-19 pandemic. This is especially true for us in the academic world - and at the University of Houston Law Center as we switched to remote learning and working for the past eighteen months. We traded our lecture halls for Zoom meetings, and we conducted our learning, teaching, and working at home away from each other. Now with increased vaccinations, it appears as if hope is on the horizon, but we are quite well aware of the increasing prevalence of the Delta variant.
I would like to take this opportunity to address what the reopening means for our students, faculty, staff, alumni, and visitors, programs and events. As we transition back to work on campus in the fall, we anticipate largely face-to-face instruction. However, safety remains our priority. The University cannot require vaccinations, but we strongly encourage faculty, staff, students, and alumni to get vaccinated. If you have not been vaccinated and have questions, please check out the UH vaccine resource finder. The vaccine is readily available, at no cost, at local retail pharmacies. By being vaccinated, you will reduce your personal risk of being infected, and you will reduce the risk of spreading the virus to others. Please encourage your friends, family, and neighbors to get vaccinated.
Pursuant to a recent state executive order, the Law Center can no longer require face coverings. However, UH Guidelines strongly recommends that you should continue to wear a face covering while on campus, especially if you are not vaccinated. Please continue to monitor your health before coming to campus. If you have a temperature, feel sick, or have tested positive for COVID-19, you should not come to campus until the symptoms abate. In the case of a positive COVID-19 test result, we ask that you get clearance from your doctor before returning. We also encourage you to keep washing your hands and practice safe hygiene.
Despite all the challenges that we collectively experienced with the COVID-19 pandemic, I am most enthusiastic about our collective adaptation to video-conferencing technology. In our quest to return to “normal,” we should not abandon the technological innovation that we have gleaned during the Pandemic. Embracing virtual technology has had many benefits. Our admissions teams did more outreach, held more online events, and were even more accessible to answer questions from prospective students resulting in a record number of applicants, the highest since 2010. We had more than 1,500 people attend our Black Lawyers Matter Conference co-convened with Southern Methodist University Dedman School of Law and many of our other online events had record high attendance with national and international audience reach.
We plan to maintain this technological innovation and momentum while striking the balance between those signature face-to-face, in-person events like the postponed 2020 graduation ceremony, the new building ceremony, and the annual Holiday Coffee.
At the Law Center, we plan to embrace this “new normal” because we have seen how effective it has been in promoting our brand beyond the geographical limits presented purely in-person opportunities.
Thank you for your patience as we continue to navigate these challenging, turbulent times. Despite the wildly different and difficult circumstances, we faced in the last eighteen months, let us recognize that we accomplished a great deal and persevered through the toughest of obstacles.
I look forward to seeing many of you soon. As always, stay safe.
Leonard M. Baynes
Dean & Professor of Law
University of Houston Law Center
The University of Houston Law Center
100 Law Center
Houston, TX 77204-6060