UT Austin to announce changes to fall semester in June


AUSTIN (KXAN) — Administrators from the University of Texas at Austin said in a virtual news conference Friday that they will announce the changes to the upcoming fall semester in June.

In a press release, UT stated that it will not announce any major decisions, but it will provide an opportunity to learn about the process of planning for the fall semester.

The press conference covered the university’s broader goals as well as some of the factors being considered as students and faculty get ready to return to campus.

Those speaking at the press conference included UT President Gregory Fenves, Interim President Designate Jay Hartzell, Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Students Soncia Reagins-Lilly as well as Art Markman, Chair of Academics Working Group, Professor of Psychology and Marketing and Director of IC2 Institute.

Markman stated the university is now trying to balance an in-person experience during the fall semester and safety concerns since COVID-19 will likely remain present at that time. He said administrators are considering what appropriate social distancing will be and identify which classes need to meet in person or could possibly involve a mixture of online instruction. He said UT Austin may even lengthen the school day in the fall so that classes could be spread out throughout the day, so campus would be potentially less crowded at previous peak times.

When asked about how COVID-19 would impact the university’s athletics program, Fenves stated UT Austin is coordinating with other schools in the Big 12 conference to guide decisions on what the football season might look like and what the schedule might be.

Fenves also explained that the university gave out budget guidelines across campus given the financial impact that COVID-19 has had on campus. He said the first phase of actions include limiting hiring to a significantly less level than what it would be normally. He also said the university is pulling back on merit-based pay increases for faculty and staff members.

Hartzell, the interim president designate, said at the conclusion of the virtual briefing that UT Austin will be able to share the “ultimate resolution” in June about what changes will happen during the fall semester.

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