Dear UD Community,
As an alumnus of the University of Dallas and now president, it is a great honor to lead this remarkable university — a university in which our Catholic and liberal arts mission, the mission of forming students in intellectual and moral virtue, remains at the center of all that we do. I confess that while I expected unexpected challenges in my first year as president, I could never have anticipated what we have faced together in the past five months.
As with any grave challenge, character is tested and revealed. I am happy to say that the character of UD — the administration, the trustees, the faculty, the staff, and the students and their families — is remarkably resilient and generous. I know that I speak for everyone when I express my gratitude for the words of support and promises of prayer that we’ve received from so many of you.
Challenges remain, however, and we will need our entire community working together to meet these and continue the important work of Catholic liberal arts education.
You might suppose that with in-person classes canceled for the second half of the spring semester and summer activities on campus coming to a halt, the workload would have decreased. But the opposite has been true. Faculty are busy preparing for a fall in which they need to be adaptable. The administration, particularly our COVID-19 Task Force, has been meeting almost daily. I am grateful for everyone’s tireless work.
I hope that each of you will take the time to express gratitude toward staff and faculty members for their sacrificial work during this difficult time and for their inspiring love of UD.
I am happy to report that we plan to return to in-person instruction and residential living for the fall semester. We wish that we could return to completely normal operations, but that is both impossible and unwise.
With the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic, the university, indeed the entire world, is facing an unprecedented public health crisis. To reopen campus safely this fall, the university is consulting guidance issued by federal, state and local government and public health officials, including the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the American College Health Association, the State of Texas, the County of Dallas, and the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, along with doctors and public health officials directly associated with the university.
The university has created specific policies for community life, i.e., health and hygiene practices, cleaning practices, dining practices, etc., on the basis of its understanding of the common good and this scientific and health guidance. We thank each one of you who has contributed comments and concerns in the development of the university’s reopening plan — your input has been invaluable.
Our inquiry and research has not only been scientific, identifying best practices to contain the spread of the COVID-19 virus, but also a moral inquiry — what are the best practices to promote the dignity and respect of each member of our community, to protect the emotional, intellectual and physical needs of our students, staff and faculty? We engage in this inquiry primarily through the lens of a public health crisis, and not from a paradigm of free speech or freedom of expression, the goods of which we do not deny.
However, we must operate in a community, especially in this time, and act for the good of one another. This we must do — for the protection of the common good. As Saint Paul urges in Ephesians, we are “to live in a manner worthy of the call [we] have received, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another through love, striving to preserve the unity of the spirit through the bond of peace.”
In a spirit of self-discipline and forbearance for one another, we head into the fall semester with the plans that we send to you today. However, planning is not finished, and indeed there may be need for alteration in light of changed circumstances. The university will constantly re-evaluate its plan, and adjust it accordingly as public health guidance changes.
Thomas S. Hibbs, Ph.D., BA ’82 MA ’83
All members of the University community--faculty, staff, students--will be asked to sign the Groundhog Pledge prior to their return to campus this fall.
University of Dallas
The Groundhog Pledge
Academic Year 2020-21
I pledge to take responsibility for my own health, the protection of others and to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 in the UD community.
I pledge to:
I acknowledge that my individual effort and that of every other person on campus contributes to the likelihood of UD remaining open for this semester. I agree to do my part to promote the common good and well-being of my friends, colleagues, and the UD community by staying true to my Groundhog Pledge.
Health Center expansion: The Health Center is being expanded into the Campus Ministry space to accommodate students sick with COVID-19.
Health Center supplies: The Health Center will maintain a stock of masks available to all members of the University community.
Health Center services: The Health Center will continue to provide health services for all UD students. Telehealth measures and mobile health apps will be deployed for students to obtain health and counseling assistance and to make medical appointments for all illnesses--COVID-19 and non-COVID-19 related illness. The Health Center will hire additional medical technicians and work with Dallas County Health and Human Services to assist with essential services and contact tracing for the duration of the fall semester.
Contact tracing: The University will promptly identify and isolate potentially infectious individuals and implement a contact tracing protocol. People who have been exposed to someone who tests positive for COVID-19 will be contacted immediately and will be asked to quarantine.
Residential Student with COVID-19: If a student is diagnosed with COVID-19, he/she will be isolated in a designated space on campus, or in overflow space off-campus. The student’s parents/family will be contacted immediately. Meals and health care services will be provided while the student is isolated. Students who are isolated with COVID-19 will be closely monitored to ensure their needs are being met and to monitor their recovery process. For symptomatic cases, re-entry into campus life will be permitted after at least 3 days have passed since recovery (resolution of fever without use of fever-reducing medications, improved respiratory symptoms), and at least 10 days have passed since COVID-19 symptoms first appeared. For asymptomatic cases, re-entry into campus life will be permitted 14 days after the positive test date, only if the student has a negative COVID-19 test result at the end of the 14 day period.
Phased Plan for Closing Campus: We will have a phased plan for closing down various aspects of campus life should the need arise due to an increased incidence of COVID-19.
Accommodations for high-risk individuals:
Training: The University will provide COVID-19-specific health and hygiene training for supervisors/employees/faculty prior to their return to campus (how to wear a mask, when to use hand sanitizer, what to do if you or someone you work with gets sick, how to identify high risk individuals) and throughout the fall semester to provide up-to-date COVID-19 risk factors and recommended protective behaviors.
Emergency Alerts: The University will employ its emergency e-mail alert system to send alerts regarding the incidence of positive COVID-19 cases on campus to the University community. Personally identifiable information will not be released. Should a COVID-19 outbreak emerge, the University will issue daily status updates and step-by-step emergency plans by e-mail to the University community. Information will also be available on this website.
Daily health monitoring: All members of the University community are encouraged to monitor their health condition every day by evaluating whether they have COVID-19 symptoms, such as those recognized by the CDC:
The University will provide no-touch thermometers in dormitories and in the Student Health Center. The University requests that all students bring a personal thermometer with them to campus.
Masks: All members of the University community and guests and visitors to campus are required to wear a mask in all buildings on campus, except when an individual is alone in a dorm room (or with a roommate), in an office, or private vehicle, or while eating. Mask wearing is not required in outdoor spaces, unless it is impossible to social distance (defined as 6 feet apart from another person). Students who do not follow this policy will be subject to disciplinary action under the University Code of Conduct. Anyone who does not wear a mask at a University-sponsored event or class will be asked to leave. Similarly, faculty and staff who do not follow this policy will be subject to discipline, and guests and visitors who fail to wear a mask in University buildings will be asked to leave campus.
Water fountains: Drinking fountains are safe to use as long as you do not physically touch any fixture on them with bare skin. Use a cloth or towel, but not your bare hand to activate the fountain. Students, faculty and staff are encouraged to bring their own water in reusable bottles to minimize the use of water dispensers and minimize waste.
Travel policy: No professional, University-sponsored, travel is permitted during the fall semester. To obtain an exemption, a faculty or staff member may obtain approval from their Vice President-level senior staff member of the University administration.
Hand-washing: All members of the UD community are encouraged to wash their hands under running water whenever possible for at least 20 seconds.
Hand sanitizer: Free-standing sanitizing stations will be located throughout campus. Sanitizing wipes will be available at the entrance to classrooms so that students and professors can wipe down their chairs/desks as desired. Cleaning products will be provided for employee and faculty use in every office on campus.
Social distancing: Please maintain 6 feet distance between yourself and another person while on campus-- in classrooms, elevators, stairwells, hallways, public spaces, library. Follow directional signage, especially in narrow hallways and stairwells and when entering or exiting a classroom.
Coughing etiquette: Cough away from people and into a tissue or your elbow.
Schedule for increased, routine cleaning and disinfection (daytime and nighttime protocols)
Minimize sharing of materials:
Common area policies:
Physical distancing plan:
The University will adhere to Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference (SCAC) Competition Guidelines. Pursuant to the SCAC policy statements linked below, the University has cancelled fall sports.
SCAC Statement on Alternative Playing Seasons (July 22, 2020)
SCAC Presidents Council Statement Regarding Fall Sports (July 16, 2020)
University athletes will be asked to agree to the Crusader Code of Conduct.
Visitor registration and certification: see Policy GV (Guests and Visitors)
Please review the July 9, 2020 Letter to Parents, outlining our plans to move forward with our Rome program this fall.
If you have any questions or concerns regarding the University’s plans for reopening campus in the fall, please write to Executive Vice President John Plotts at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you.