Welcome back to campus! I know many of you are nervous about what the fall semester has in store for us and I want to provide some guidance to help you navigate the next few months.
First, the best thing you can do to protect yourself is to get vaccinated. The student vaccination rate is very low and the highly contagious delta variant of COVID-19 is on the rise. The university provides vaccinations at the Student Health Center Pharmacy for all UT students, staff, faculty, and retirees. Appointment times vary each week. Learn more about vaccination efforts on campus.
Masks are required in classrooms, labs, and required orientation events, but not in other indoor spaces, such as hallways or the Student Union. I strongly encourage you to follow CDC guidelines and wear a mask in all indoor spaces. If you see a student not wearing a mask (or not wearing it properly) in a space where it is required, you may remind them to put one on or offer a mask, if available. If the student does not comply, I recommend to all instructors that you dismiss the class and report the student to the dean of students.
If you need language for your syllabus related to COVID-19, the Teaching and Learning Innovation website has templates and language available. If you need to change your course modality, you can, but only with approval from the college. If you need accommodations for your personal health, please contact the Office of Equity and Diversity.
In other college news, I want to welcome our new department heads: Nicholas Nagle in geography, Casey Sams in theatre (interim), and Hap McSween in earth and planetary sciences (also interim). We have several new faculty and staff in the college as well and will introduce them in the September edition of Dialogue.
We kick off our College Conversations: Spotlight on Diversity series next Thursday, August 26 with “Religion, Race, and Ethnicity” at 5:30 p.m. via Zoom. Faculty from our religious studies department will discuss the intersection of religion, race, and ethnicity and highlight their new concentration in this area. Learn more and register for the event online.
We have another challenging semester ahead of us. Our students will need our support, but we will also need the support of each other. Please take care of yourself, get the rest you need, and be kind to each other as we start the long journey back to some semblance of normalcy. There are many resources on campus for you to turn to if you need help. The Be Well Program from the Center of Health Education and Wellness has several opportunities to get involved in healthy lifestyle choices at UT. The Student Counseling Center is open to all students needing personal counseling, psychotherapy, and mental health services.
Please do not hesitate to reach out to me if you have questions or concerns about the upcoming semester. I am here to support you. Thank you for all you do for our Volunteer community.
Theresa M. Lee
Dean, College of Arts and Sciences